Areas for Activity: Seize Every Opportunity

Through a combination of various approaches, energy-efficient urban redevelopment presents diverse possibilities for simultaneously advancing the remaining goals of integrated city development. For instance, measures for the energy-efficient renovation of existing buildings can be planned in combination with climate-friendly mobility strategies and/or open space development. In order to construct a “Culture for energy-efficient urban redevelopment,” integrated and holistic strategies for sustainable city and regional development supporting forward-thinking neighborhood development and climate-conscious consumer behavior should become the norm.

Energy-Efficient Building Renovation
Residential buildings, community spaces, commercial properties: the highest potential for the reduction of CO₂ in terms of energy-efficient urban redevelopment lies in minimizing energy-usage for heating. In 2016, heating made up 71% of the total energy consumption for private households. This amount is not only far more than the percentual portion allotted to hot water (14%), but also to electrical and mechanical energy (8%), process heating (6%) and lighting (2%). Energy-efficient building renovation is not only important for protecting the climate, but also for apprehending increased energy costs and as such, supporting the long-term development of a socially responsible supply of living space. Neighborhood energy concepts include possibilities for energy-saving in addition to outlines and steps for strategic goal setting. This allows renovation concepts and time management plans to be individually tailored to each neighborhood. Additionally, neighborhood energy concepts support the differentiation of financial models and realization strategies based on building type. While still in the concept development phase, cooperation and strategies for voicing concerns and questions should be fostered. This allows relevant stakeholders, from private property owners to institutional owners, shared ownerships or organized housing groups, to be integrated early on in the process.
Energy-Efficient Heating
A defining characteristic of energy-efficient urban development is the assessment of heating sources not simply as they pertain to individual buildings, but rather pertaining to neighborhoods and building clusters as systems. Neighborhood energy concepts offer opportunities to thoroughly test the technical and economic feasibility of different methods and to gather the necessary stakeholders for its successful implementation. Strategies can be developed for the modernization and expansion of existing local and district heating mechanisms. Such strategies range from switching to low-temperature heating systems to (prospectively) integrating new heating sources such as solar energy, heat pumps, geothermal energy, or recycled exhaust heat. New approaches to heating networks, as well as the detailing of their operator models, may also be included in the neighborhood energy concepts. It remains essential that heating network strategies be developed in close conjunction with the appropriate, necessary steps towards restructuring the energy usage within buildings determined for sanitation. Neighborhood energy concepts could come to play an increasingly important role as local components within town-wide heat and energy supply systems.
Climate-Friendly Mobility
19% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in Germany are caused by transportation, making this sector one of the largest sources of pollution. The necessary environmentally friendly transformation of mobility structures as well as behaviors should therefore be addressed on a neighborhood level. A central approach towards achieving this is the bolstering of environmental alliances in the field of transport. Neighborhood concepts could outline the fundamental infrastructures for improving cycling conditions or demonstrate how to establish carsharing systems. Another focal point is the neighborhood-level expansion of E-Mobility infrastructures. This becomes even more important when development of various transportation sectors is integrated. The roles of renovation management prove not only central in terms of inciting, but also coordinating the transformation to environmentally friendly transportation methods.
Encouraging Climate-Conscious Consumer Behaviors
“Gentle” measures play a key role in the development of climate-conscious consumer behaviors. Such measures are achieved through sharing information, communication, motivation, coordination and service. The potential for energy conservation is high. A large amount of energy can be saved when residents change their behaviors. Should public infrastructures be optimized for the needs of users, CO₂ emissions could definitely be reduced. Only in this way can the aimed at sum for energy consumption in renovated buildings, as well as the neighborhood overall, actually be achieved. New climate-consciousness can lead to reduced power-usage. Public relations play a key role in encouraging participation from residents, private owners, business owners and other neighborhood figures. Therefore, in addition to the neighborhood concept, tailored measures like targeted informational and outreach campaigns should be developed to strengthen the feeling of individual responsibility.
Energy-Efficient Power Use
Electrical costs have risen consistently in recent years. Increasing the potential for saving electrical energy on the neighborhood level is practical for two reasons: firstly, to reduce CO₂ emissions, and secondly, for financial benefits. However, this area for intervention is subordinate to other ways for reducing energy consumption. In terms of neighborhood energy concepts, the potential for conserving energy mostly corresponds to upgrading community buildings and/or infrastructure, such as streetlights. Certain projects test clever systems and concepts for designing “Smart Homes” for a “Smart City.” Addressing these issues on a neighborhood level proves especially useful when trying to connect across varying scales for intervention.
Introduction of Renewable Energies
Possibilities for locally obtaining or outsourcing renewable energy exist in nearly every neighborhood and can partially support the supply of power and heat. This approach considers the entire spectrum of renewable energy options, from solar energy to bioenergy and wind power to geothermal energy. The neighborhood energy concepts should describe the potential for introducing renewable energies. In terms of heating, reciprocal effects between central and planned and decentral heating supply systems should be considered. At the same time, it is important to design strategies through which regenerative energy production is not only supported, but financially viable. New types of energy providers, such as local energy cooperatives, play an important role here. In order to most efficiently produce and use renewable energy, cooperation between locally active energy companies and property owners or real estate companies is helpful. Contracting offers another solution.
Incorporation in the Sustainable Planning of Cities and Regions
Embedding the reconstruction of energy systems in the continual processes of neighborhood development is fundamental in allowing energy-efficient urban redevelopment to become the norm. On a residential level there are already many examples, such as age-appropriate, accessible, and family-friendly living options, where energy-efficient sanitation has been introduced. Extending energy-efficient redevelopment across multiple neighborhoods offers benefits for social infrastructures, local commercial business, public transport connectivity, building culture and public space. Possibilities for energy sanitation may also be incorporated in handling existing consequences of climate change. Adaptation to climate change can most effectively be achieved by weaving concepts for sustainable development of internal, green and open space development, as well as the restructuring of wastewater infrastructure, with aspects of energy-efficient urban redevelopment. Additionally, concerns about resilience can be more easily addressed in an energy-renovated area. The embedding of concept areas in their regional contexts of city development funding has been successfully tried and tested many times. Existing forms of cooperation can function supportively not only in the development of neighborhood concepts, but also in terms of renovation management. In areas where city development is specifically funded, energy-efficient development measures can complement existing initiatives and targetedly build on the given focus areas for neighborhood development.