The world is changing at an increasingly rapid pace. This only reinforces the need to be prepared for future conditions. One proper solution would be to future-proof buildings and cities. With more than two thirds of the world’s population to live in urban areas by 2050, now is the time to reconsider the role cities can play in the shift towards a more sustainable society.
In order to build up resilience to the adverse effects of climate change, the transformation process has to be thoroughly prepared. Performance predictions and scenario planning are two very important tools.
A Sustainable Plus Energy Neighbourhood (SPEN) aims to achieve exactly this. A SPEN, as a highly efficient neighbourhood, should produce at least as much renewable energy as it uses in a year, but besides its innovative nature, an important aspect is the focus on the quality of life and indoor comfort. In order to ensure a high level of energy efficiency and a positive energy balance, the energy demand and the energy generation from the different energy sources should be modelled already during the design process behind the development of the syn.ikia demos.
syn.ikia demo neighbourhoods in Norway, Spain, Austria and the Netherlands have been designed from the start to ensure the projects a positive contribution in terms of energy to the grid, while ensuring high quality indoor comfort and a healthy social environment to tenants. Our recently published report shares inspiring results of integrated energy and future proof design in different climates and contexts.
One of the key aspects of this development stage is the ‘Integrated Energy Design’ (IED), whose aiming to ensure that environmental and energy performance of buildings is considered from the very beginning so that the project’s targets are met. While it may prolong the initial stage of the development, it allows the construction stages to be more efficient. More importantly though, is that IED also takes into account the qualitative aspect related to the social environment and economic framework when applied at a neighbourhood scale. Dynamic simulation tools were used for predicting the performance of SPENs. Parameters related to indoor climate, energy, power, and greenhouse gas emissions were modelled through them.
The report also focuses on the frameworks that were integrated in the design process. Two dimensions needed to be carefully analysed: the environmental and energy performance and the scenario planning process. The first one has as a purpose guaranteeing a positive energy balance and good indoor climate, for instance the passive measures that can be implemented to reduce the energy need and optimise indoor environment and life cycle costs; efficient ways to use local renewable energy sources and storage. The second one aims at finding the best possible solutions for future conditions, like robustness of the designs according to different future scenarios of changing weather patterns, different user behaviour, and energy/power tariffs; and different flexibility measures to respond to the various scenarios.
A wide range of design strategies adapted to the four demo projects in the different climates around Europe, comprising passive and active methods adapted to local contexts and climates, were tested to choose the most optimal solutions, robust enough for future conditions. The next steps during the remaining period of the syn.ikia project will consist of the construction, commissioning and monitoring of the demos.
To know more, check syn.ikia’s Report on Design Plus Energy Neighbourhoods in Each of the Four Climatic Types.