Bridges vol. 39, May 2014 / Feature Articles
By Energy Innovation Austria, BMVIT
This quarterly publication presents current Austrian developments and results from research work in the field of forward-looking energy technologies. The content is based on research projects funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology and the Climate and Energy Fund.
Today more than half the world‘s population and two-thirds of Europeans are living in cities or urban areas; the figure for Austria is 64 percent. The global trend in urbanization is upwards; the process will continue in the future, and the city will become the dominant environment in social and economic terms throughout the world. Europe‘s cities generate the bulk of our affluence although, at the same time, they face huge economic, ecological, and social challenges. Climate changes, migration, secure energy supply systems, and sustainable mobility are among the issues calling for pioneering strategies and solutions.
The hallmark of Smart Cities is intelligent system design bringing together new technologies and services for buildings and infrastructure, and generating and distributing energy, mobility, industrial production, and trades. In the future all the relevant sectors should be linked and attuned to one another with the help of integrated planning and modern communications technologies. Tomorrow‘s cities will combine climate protection with a high quality of life, making them attractive as business locations and contributing to a permanent reduction in energy and resource consumption.
At the EU level, the issue of sustainable urban development plays a key role in the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan), in the Horizon 2020 framework program for research, in the European Innovation Partnership Smart Cities and Communities (EIP SCC), in the transnational Joint Programming Initiative JPI Urban Europe, and in various transnational cooperation schemes and initiatives.
Since late 2010 the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT) and the Climate and Energy Fund have collaborated on funding the development of strategies, technologies, and solutions for climate-friendly, energy-efficient urban economic activities and lifestyles.
In step with EU initiatives, a pilot called “Smart Cities Demo” (Climate and Energy Fund) has been launched in Austria to support trend-setting pilot projects. In addition, in 2010 the BMVIT successfully started the JPI “Urban Europe,” a transnational research program under the aegis of the EU Council of Ministers, which tackles basic system-relevant issues related to urban development. Within the framework of “Building of Tomorrow,” BMVIT supports flagship construction projects; and the recently launched BMVIT program “City of Tomorrow” is intended to accelerate the development of new technologies, technological (sub)systems, and urban services.
In this program Austrian towns and cities are developing strategies and arrangements for the Smart City and have already started to implement these successfully in specific pilot projects. From the initiatives mentioned above, here are some examples that show the wide range of Austrian activities.
Smart City Vienna: Model for intelligent urban development in Europe
All over the world, the City of Vienna with its 1.7 million inhabitants is seen as an example of exceptional urban quality of life. The city aims to secure this status in the long term by means of comprehensive measures for a sustainable future in terms of energy and climate. Under Mayor Häupl‘s aegis, in 2011 the department responsible for urban development and urban planning launched “Smart City Vienna.” As part of the Climate and Energy Funds program “Smart Cities Demo,” “Vision 2050,” a “Roadmap for 2020 and beyond,” and the “Action Plan for 2012-2015” have been implemented in a stakeholder process.
Vienna‘s Smart Cities activities are embedded in various transnational and European programs. Vienna cooperates with other European cities and international business and research partners, e.g., in the project TRANSFORM (Transformation Agenda for Low Carbon Cities, partially funded within the EU‘s 7th Framework Program for Research). TRANSFORM plus pilot projects are implemented in “smart” city districts, and the overall urban strategy is advanced with the support of the Climate and Energy Fund.
aspern – Vienna ́s Urban Lakeside
At aspern a 240-hectare site, once an airfield, is being developed into a brand-new, multifunctional city district with residential accommodations, offices, and a section for small-scale businesses, science, research, and education. The Urban Lakeside is one of the largest urban development projects in Europe, where affordable accommodations for 20,000 people, plus 15,000 jobs, and top-rated public transport and infrastructure are underway.
As part of the BMVIT funding program “Building of Tomorrow,” the central project aspern addresses the issues of open space and microclimate, inter-building energy distribution and consumption, implementing specific demonstration buildings to surplus-energy standards, and monitoring systems to evaluate the buildings’ performance. As a first pilot project, the Vienna Business Agency‘s aspern IQ Technology Center went up in 2012.
Liesing Mitte – Zero Emission and Urban Farming
The Liesing Mitte project connects three dissimilar urban areas (“In der Wiesen,” the Liesing Industrial Zone, and Atzgersdorf Zentrum) to create a model Smart City district. The focus, among other things, is on deploying intelligent building technologies in new construction and renovation and on setting up smart grids, thus making it possible to tie in surplus-energy buildings as suppliers of energy. The goals are to reduce the district‘s carbon-dioxide emissions step-by-step to zero emissions by 2050; to lower energy and raw-material consumption by a factor of 10; and to shift to 100 percent renewables as sources of energy. Social considerations, such as making these innovations affordable for low-income households, play a key part here. Around 100 different individual projects have been slotted into a road map. One important aspect is designing the open spaces as areas that the future residents can use. Urban farming projects in subsidized housing construction are intended to improve the quality of the surroundings, dissuade people from moving to the country, and re-establish their awareness of what makes good food.
TRANSFORM plus: Smart Urban Labs
For Aspern Urban Lakeside, a “Smart Citizen Assistant” is being developed – a tool to provide data to (mobile) terminal devices about residents‘ energy consumption and important local information. In the pilot project “e-delivery on demand,” a low-cost logistic pooling model for electric-powered vans is being thought out for the Liesing Industrial Zone.
Smart Future Graz: “Urban building blocks” self-sufficient in energy
Graz is a fast-growing city with limited space for settlement. That is why urban development in Graz is focused on packing more into parts of the inner city with excellent infrastructure. These areas are to be made into energy-efficient, resource-conserving, low-emission residential areas with a very high quality of life. In the strategic project “I live Graz,” future actions have been defined for the Smart City Graz in the areas of the economy, society, ecology, mobility, energy, and facility management. Apart from providing grade-A accommodations, the city‘s main aims are to provide attractive public spaces, to set up a network of attractive routes for walking and cycling, to mesh development with public transport facilities, and to reduce motor traffic’s share of travel.
Smart City Project Graz Mitte
A new urban district self-sufficient in energy is to take shape in the heterogeneous area (once an industrial zone) near the main Graz railway station. Here energy technologies for the intelligent “Zero Emissions” city will be demonstrated for the very first time via an inclusive planning process. The project involves:
- Testing new components and systems such as new solar modules, solar cooling, urban solar power generators, façade-integrated elements, mini-CHP units, and Smart Heat Grids
- Implementing demonstration facilities (the research-oriented Science Tower, the pilot PV unit “Grätzel-Zelle,” a power center plus local power grid, a solar updraft tower, and housing developments and premises for small-scale businesses featuring pioneering building technologies)
- Strategies for sustainable urban mobility, including electric-powered vehicles.
Citizens are brought into the process by means of active community organizing, providing information and ways to participate, and via an interdisciplinary panel of experts. Constant dialogue with partner cities in Austria and abroad is intended to promote learning processes, reflection, and the dissemination of results.
ECR Energy City Graz Reininghaus
As part of the flagship project “Building of Tomorrow,” an overall energy strategy has been worked out for Graz Reininghaus, as well as strategies for structuring, building, and running the district as an urban region self-sufficient in energy. Here pilot facilities are intended to become internationally trail-blazing “building blocks of urban sustainability.”
The overall energy strategy is primarily focused on linking up surplus-energy buildings (which produce more energy than they consume) and feeding the surplus energy into a communal grid. Energy consumption, supply, and distribution, building services engineering, and urban development aspects (e.g., geothermal energy, suitable orientation of a structural shell, solar exploitation of roofs and façades, using process heat, CHP facilities, etc.) have been investigated for the energy framework plan.
The surplus-energy cluster Reininghaus Süd was one of the first construction projects to be implemented. Here, 12 separate blocks of flats have been coupled together into a multifunctional cluster of buildings. An office and shopping complex in front screens the project from a nearby busy road.
The surplus-energy approach combines a variety of measures: The individual buildings have been designed to take maximum advantage of renewables (geothermal energy tapped via energy piles, and photovoltaics), while synergies have been created between the blocks of flats and the office complex. To even out peaks in generation and consumption, the power centers in the individual blocks of flats have been linked and power sharing with the office and shopping complex has been implemented.
Interview with Kai-Uwe Hoffer – Project manager for Smart Future Graz
“Smart City” refers to a city that combines a high quality of life with climate protection and resource efficiency. What specific measures does the planning department envisage to push the “Smart City” approach in Graz?
To do this, we deploy a variety of packages (energy, mobility, quality of architecture, providing public open space and parks, citizen participation ...), which are defined in line with the specific requirements of the project in question; for implementation they are subsequently incorporated in binding contracts.
Consuming less energy but maintaining quality of life, consumption, and mobility – how is that supposed to work?
Investigations show that if a residential area is developed compactly, with adequate public-transport links and proper infrastructure, this has a favorable effect on the modal split (how people move around). The technological innovations tested in the pilot projects are intended to improve energy efficiency considerably. Involving local agents alongside this is meant to spread awareness of the opportunities available with these new technologies.
Which pioneering technologies and services will be particularly important in the future when “smart” urban districts are taking shape?
User-friendly technological applications make a sustainable modal split possible (car-sharing fleets, electric bicycles, information management in public transport). Applications for building services lower running costs. Monitoring functions (apps) reveal how much each separate measure can contribute to saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions.
Salzburg – from Smart Grid to Smart City: New energy strategies for urban living quarters
As a Smart Grids Model Region, the City of Salzburg has a large repertoire of emission-reducing initiatives for climate protection. Building on this, the city has defined its vision for 2050 in a master plan and established a roadmap for developing into a Smart City. To restructure the energy system, it is essential, among other things, to expand and optimize the district heating grid in line with city development strategies, make more use of renewable energy sources, massively reduce energy consumption in buildings, and provide new options for mobility.
Innovative use of solar energy in the Lehen district
One of the flagship “Building of Tomorrow” projects is the restructuring of the Lehen district in Salzburg, where numerous building projects have been in progress since 2007. Parts of the overall project are being implemented within the framework of the EU initiative Concerto II “Green Solar Cities.”
On premises once occupied by the municipal utilities company, 287 apartments for rental, the new city gallery, a student hostel, and a nursery school have been built. The existing office block has been renovated and equipped with modern offices, laboratories, and conference rooms. The far-reaching renovation of the adjacent old neighborhood, Strubergassensiedlung, has been carried out using the most up-to-date technologies. The showcase project “Stadtwerk Lehen,” with its sustainable energy strategy, represents an important Austrian contribution within the research cooperation framework of the International Energy Agency (IEA-EBC Annex 51/ Energy Efficient Buildings and Communities).
Energy on the premises is provided through a system which complements district heating with solar energy. The building Stadtwerk Lehen was equipped with a thermal solar facility with a collector area of 2,000 m2. The heat is collected in a central storage facility with a capacity of 200,000 liters. A solar heat pump enhances the system and increases the output by another 15 to 20 percent. The heat is distributed via a low-temperature microgrid to flats and offices, as well as to renovated apartment blocks nearby. On the roofs of the apartment blocks, a photovoltaic facility with an overall rating of 20.16 kW provides electricity for the shared facilities.
The next step was to conduct a building structure analysis in Salzburg to identify further neighborhoods in need of comprehensive renovation with sustainability in mind.
Rosa Zukunft – Smart Grid technologies in the field
Internationally, Salzburg counts as a front-runner in the development of intelligent solutions for electricity distribution grids. In a close cooperation between researchers and industry, new technologies for tomorrow‘s electricity grids have been developed and put to the test since 2009 in Austria‘s first Smart Grid showcase region.
In the pioneer project HiT (buildings as interactive participants in a Smart Grid), all relevant Smart Grid low-voltage elements are linked up in an integrated building strategy. The project encompasses planning, constructing, running, and monitoring an apartment complex with 130 flats (rented and owner-occupied) for various groups of occupants. Here key issues related to generating energy from renewable sources, building technologies and storage facilities, and electric-powered mobility, are investigated under real-life conditions. The apartment complex has an intelligent energy management system able to control energy production and consumption (e.g., through automatic load redistribution) and to make use of existing storage facilities (e.g., batteries in electric vehicles). Environmentally friendly energy production from photovoltaic units and cogeneration are just as much a part and parcel of the overall strategy as sustainable mobility for residents.