A significant share of the present energy consumption is related to building heating systems as well as the supply of domestic hot water. As current heat supply systems are mainly based on fossil fuels, the energy consumption in buildings ultimately contributes to increasing climate change related problems. Furthermore, fossil fuels used for heating are often imported from outside areas, resulting in a significant loss in terms of economic resilience. In addition, many high-density urban areas present individual solutions with low efficient supply systems instead of community/collective solutions such as district heating, which in high-density areas is both more energy efficient as well as cheaper.
The problem with energy use in buildings exists because development so far has primarily been based on the utilization of fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal. With more than 80% of the world’s primary energy consumption based on fossil fuels and rapid population growth rates, their use is significantly increasing. This not only contributes to increase natural resource depletion but also produces a variety of environmental impacts. For instance, fossil fuel combustion releases greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, which has a negative impact on weather, oceans, food supply, health, and biological systems.
The solution is to transition fossil-fuel energy supply systems into renewable energy systems. This is not a simple task, as a change towards renewable energy requires improvements of the whole energy supply system, the development of new technologies as well as the reduction of end-use demands. In regard to buildings, this means that it is important to improve them through energy renovation. By doing this, the required resources needed to heating supply can be significantly reduced, with a great impact on the overall performance of energy systems as a large share of the current energy resources is used to that end. Additionally, to reduce the end-use heat demands, some improvements can be made to provide more efficient supply systems. For instance, in dense urban areas heat supply systems can change towards more efficient district heating, while in rural areas heat pump technology can be applied.
In this sense, the "Urban Heat Atlas" is a tool that helps this transition by assessing current heat demands, potentials for reductions as well as potentials for district heating through the use of technologies that enable an efficient use of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy.
An "Urban Heat Atlas" is a geographic database that includes estimated heat demands of single building units. Typically, heat demands are estimated based on building characteristics such as age, type, use, and size. However, this is very dependent on what type of information is available for the specific area, as some do not count with such detailed information. In addition, in order to estimate the heat demand in a certain area, measurements of actual heat demands are required, as there are large variations in both climate-appropriate building design and behavioral patterns.
FACILITATORY (PUBLIC) BODIES:
planning and development department; environmental and sustainability department; energy and waste department; architecture department
LOCAL TASK FORCE:
professional expert; researcher; business
dense inner city; urban region; (sub-)urban communities; underused urban site & building
MAIN NECESSARY RESOURCES ARE
monetary investments; expert knowledge; local knowledge
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