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APRIL 2000

lBUILDING TECHNOLOGY THERMIE PROGRAMME: promotion of energy technology in Europe EDITORIAL


In urban settlements, where over 80% of Europeans live, the concentrations of people and their activities create intensified demands on the environment. However, this very concentration offers opportunities, through design and actions at an urban scale, to minimise the various environmental impacts - ideally to the point where they can be assimilated by the ecosystems of the region without lasting damage. It can then be said that a level of sustainable existence has been reached at which the community can live in symbiotic harmony with its environment. Perhaps the best known definition of sustainable development, that of the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission), dates from the publication in 1987 of 'Our Common Future': (Sustainable development is) ‌"development that meets the needs of today's generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs". There are many indicators of sustainability that can help in assessing the present condition, and strategies that may be adopted by a community to ensure its continued existence and development. An holistic, interdisciplinary approach involving the natural and physical sciences and the humanities is a feature of most comprehensive analyses, and the issues involved in developing and implementing action plans for sustainable urban living are diverse and often interdependent. While recognising that social and economic factors are also of fundamental importance, this newsletter's focus is on physical environmental issues. It aims to outline some exemplary urban design responses, as an aid to the process of making urban settlements in Europe more environmentally sustainable. The editors.


Traditional compact urban layout

Urban areas account for 75% of total EU final energy consumption. Our cities place an ever-increasing strain on the natural resources that support them. The impact of urban living on the environment is immense and is felt in the following areas, which can be seen as measures of sustainable development: Ecological Footprint: the ecological footprint measures the impact of raw materials, food and fuel 'imported' into the region, and takes into account land, water and air used for production or waste disposal.

traffic, manufacturing and other processes. Noise pollution: urban transport networks, construction and industrial activities are the major contributors to high noise levels in urban environments.



Urban Heat Islands: an area whose ambient temperature is higher than its surrounding area, due primarily to heat arising from fossil fuel use. Studies show a direct relationship between the density and population of a city and the intensity of the heat island effect. Urban Dust: particulate matter as a byproduct of building works, or exhaust fumes from buildings and vehicular

Urban Sustainability Issues Case Studies ParcBIT, Mallorca, Spain GREEN City: Radstadt, Austria Kronsberg, Hannover, Germany RE-Start Project Reference Guide

European Commission Energy & Transport Directorate-General

Traffic: traffic congestion reduces the quality of life in cities and increases environmental degradation. The design, placement and density of buildings have a great influence on transportation patterns. Wastes: an excess of domestic, commercial and industrial waste in solid, liquid and gas forms is often the result when the environmental impact is ignored. Water Quality: contamination of water supplies in cities and towns through uncontrolled run-off and discharge is a major cause of environmental impact. Air Quality: increasing numbers of vehicles in cities ensures a continuing rise of urban and global air pollution levels. Aerodynamic impact: built-up areas with tall buildings can lead to areas of wind turbulence and areas of concentrated pollution. Good Practice Urban planning is conceived at national, reginal and local level and has a direct influence on consumption and resultant waste and pollution. Good practice guidelines include measures to: • Encourage energy and environmental improvements within urban legislation in conjunction with revisions/updating of urban master plans; • Promote building codes which emphasise solutions to reducing energy and environmental impact of urban settlements; • Remove negative or discriminatory legislation to the implementation of renewable energy technologies; • Encourage urban planning with integrated functional zoning; • Promote the separation of transport modes, giving priority to car-free routes zones; • Facilitate adoption of higher quality standards for new and renovated buildings through incentives for builders and users; • Develop efficient methodologies to help local administration in energy and environmental planning;

anced community. Each cluster gradually diffuses from a vibrant, publicly focused centre, through a working district of offices, manufacturing and housing to a quieter residential area on the outskirts. Buildings are located on terraces which wrap around a ridge following the contours of the land. Ten percent of the winter floodwater from two strom drains traversing the site is collected in a storage area and released over the year providing both irrigation and drinking water. Traditionally constructed buildings with thick masonry walls will help ensure internal offices and studios are cool and comfortable. Height to width ratios for streets and squares are designed to ensure good natural daylight penetration to buildings, while providing shade to public spaces in summer, and allowing solar access in winter. Winter gardens will provide shade to buildings in summer and collect heat in winter. Building facades are designed to open in summer to provide shade and ventilation to buildings and pedestrian routes, and when closed in winter provide buffer zones. The energy strategy for the development proposes to reduce demand by 70%, through energy efficient building design in conjunction with a combined heat and power system fuelled using energy from renewable sources.

GREEN City: Radstadt, Austria The European GREEN (Global Renewable Energy and Environmentally Responsible Neighbourhoods) Cities project, supported by the EU Thermie programme, involves eleven low energy residential projects in seven EU countries – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain and the UK, and includes the planned construction of over 900 new dwellings.

The main purpose is twofold: to initiate low-energy and environmentally sound house-building practice in these cities using best available technologies in new-build and retrofit projects based on energy and environmental assessment; and to provide information and demonstration of this practice for city authorities, builders and consultants. Some of the sustainable building measures to be carried out include: • Introduction of user or humidity-controlled reduced ventilation based on improved ventilation design and low emissivity building materials • Integrated solar heating design, PV solar energy for ventilation and optimised energy supply systems with an Energy Management System Control • Sustainable low energy design which aims for 40 to 60% energy savings for heating and hot water 30% saving on electricity use together with a 30 to 40% saving on water usage • Monitoring programmes which will be carried out for all the projects. To achieve low-energy buildings standards, the walls to the north, west and east are of brick cavity construction with 160mm insulation, and to the south of lightweight timber construction. The design U-values of 0.2 W/m2K for walls and 0.7 W/m2K for windows respectively indicate the high thermal standards applied. The project is served by 108m2 of solar collectors for hot water, while a woodchip fuelled district heating system and a heat recovery ventilation system combine to ensure low energy consumption. The total energy consumption for heating and DHW (Domestic Hot Water) for an average multi-family house is 76kWh/m2a; 14kWh/m2a provided by solar energy and 62kWh/m2a by biomass.

CASE STUDIES ParcBIT, Mallorca Part of the Thermie EXPO CITIES project, ParcBIT in the Balearic Islands is intended to be a business and science park set within the context of a full community development. A residential community of 2,500 people, with a peak working population of 6,000 people, is envisaged. The communities are arranged within three urban clusters, each of which is a village, and which together form a bal-

ParcBIT model

public housing. The project will also establish examples of bio-climatic site design and layout in urban contexts. South Dublin County Council On the Brookfield site in Tallaght, County Dublin, the social housing phase of the project is now complete with the construction of 76 houses. The private and housing association developments, consisting of 224 houses, are underway and due to be completed by November 2000.


;; Kollectaire system

Kronsberg, Hannover Another partner in the EXPO CITIES project, the new district of Kronsberg, Hannover, is being developed according to the ICLEI recommendations of Agenda 21 with an ecological concept in the spirit of the Charter of Aalborg, which commits it to a new sustainable approach. A mixed residential district of terraced houses and large and small apartments, will provide 6,000 dwellings for 15,000 inhabitants. Services and amenities for the new district will include a primary school, a schools centre and three kindergartens, neighbourhood parks, and reserved areas for social services and commercial uses. An energy target has been set for the Kronsberg development, to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 60% through savings on heating, hot-water and electricity, but with no reduction in comfort. This will be achieved by optimising energy use in low-energy housing and the incorporation of renewable energy sources and innovative technolgies. A standard ‘Low Energy House' in Germany has an energy requirement of 70-100 kWh/m 2 p.a. At Kronsberg, a maximum level of 55 kWh/m2 p.a was established. Specific energy-efficient construction methods and the use of environmentally sound building materials are mandatory. All buildings are to be linked to a district heating system. In the Solar City part of the development, 100 passive solar dwellings and a children’s day-centre are to draw half of their heating requirements from active solar energy and the other half from the district heating network. Another 32 dwellings are to be constructed as ‘passive houses’ to demonstrate a building standard that will enable the space heating to be reduced to 15-20 kWh/m 2 p.a. while significantly reducing energy needs for hot water and household appliances.

A district co-generation plant will produce power and heat with reduced emissions. Photovoltaic cells installed on the roofs of the primary school and the community and district arts centres produce power for these buildings. Two wind turbines have been erected which supply the electricity needs of 3,000 dwellings.

RE-Start Renewable Energy Strategies and Technology Applications for Regenerating Towns RE-Start is an EC DG TREN targeted demonstration project co-ordinated by RESET (Renewable Energy Strategies for European Towns: in conjunction with Barcelona, Glasgow, Greater Lyon, Torino, Rotterdam, Copenhagen, Porto and South Dublin. RE-Start aims to provide the public authorities, institutions and the professionals of these industrial European cities with "Exemplary Urban Projects" concerning innovative energy-environmental integration at city scale. The co-operation of the eight cities within this project will maximise the global results, in terms of available knowledge resulting from a comprehensive demonstration.

Typical energy saving features employed in the homes include: • Higher levels of roof, floor and wall insulation; • Low-E double-glazed windows; • Increased thermal mass; • Condensing gas boilers and heating system controls; • Extensive wind breaks around the site; • Solar water heating in multi-unit building; • Draught lobbies; • Minimised embodied energy in construction materials; • Low maintenance. CRH Safewarm houses Donaghmede and Limerick

The Safewarm house is unique within the RE-Start project. It incorporates a fully integrated package of technologies designed to offer maximum energy savings. The principal technical innovations include: • Pre-insulated construction blocks; • Kollectaire solar air heating system; • High thermal mass construction. Following occupation of each phase of the project, representative houses are selected for environmental monitoring. Air temperature, air humudity and fuel consumption data are being collected over a minimum one-year period. Houses will also be checked for airtightness through pressurisation testing.

500 energy-efficient housing units to be built around Ireland The Irish strand of the project concerns 500 housing units to be built around Ireland. The emphasis will be on energy efficiency and sustainable design, incorporating the use of passive and active solar energy systems. The project constitutes the single most important initiative to date in Ireland addressing the potential for the design and construction of more energy-efficient housing. The project will establish new energy norms achievable by both private developers and public bodies. A maximum of 100kWh/m 2 has been set for private housing and 150kWh/m 2 for


Brookfield house

References and Suggested Reading


Environmental Indicators for National State of the Environment Reporting (Human Settlements), Peter Newton et al, (Australia: State of the Environment – Environmental Indicator Reports), 1998, ISBN 0-642-54523-5 of the series 0-642-54526-X.


Proceedings of PLEA ‘98 Lisbon, Portugal. James and James (Science Publishers) Ltd, 1998


Proceedings of PLEA ‘99 Melbourne, Australia. James and James (Science Publishers) Ltd, 1999


Towards Urban Renaissance, Final Report of the Urban Task Force (UK) chaired by Lord Rogers of Riverside. E&F Spon / Imprint Taylor Francis Group PLC, London, for UK Dept. Environment, Transport and the Regions, 1999, ISBN 1 85112 165 X.


Hough M, Cities and Natural Process. Routledge, 1995


Sevilla A, Landabaso A, Present Tools to Shape Sustainable Cities. Geohabitat, 1998


Givoni B, Climate Considerations in Building and Urban Design. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1998


Olgyay V, Design With Climate: A Bioclimatic Approach To Architectural Regionalism. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1992


White R, Urban Environmental Management. John Wiley and Sons, 1996


Indicators for Sustainable Urban Development, Tjeerd Deelstra, Donald Boyd (Eds), The International Institute for the Urban Environment. Proceedings of an Advanced Study Course sponsored by EC DG XII/V Environment and Climate RTD, July 1997, ISBN 90-75903-05-7.


Resource for Urban Design Information (


Building Technology is produced within the THERMIE programme by the Energy Research Group, University College Dublin, Richview, Clonskeagh, Dublin 14, Ireland. Tel: +353. 1-269 2750 Fax: +353. 1-283 8908


For more information about THERMIE, contact: European Commission, Energy & Transport Directorate-General, 200 Rue de la Loi, B-1049 Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32.2-295 0577 e-mail:

Editors: A. Stack and V. Brophy Energy Research Group University College Dublin

Design: Pierre Jolivet


June 19-22

EuroSun 2000 Copehagen, DK Tel: +45 45 87 76 11 Fax: +45 45 87 76 77

Sept 15-18

8th World Congress Clima 2000. Napoli, IT Email: clima@

Oct 12-14

PV in the City of the Future Utrecht, NL Email: PV.Cityofthefuture@

August 6-10

Healthy Buildings 2000 Helsinki, SF Email: info@

Sept 18-21

Oct 18-20

2nd Euro Environment Conference. Aalborg, DK Web: envire/2000/welc.htm

August 30-1 sept

Cobra 2000 University of Greenwich, UK Email: R.E.Falconer@

International Building Physics Conference: Tools for design and engineering of buildings Eindhoven, NL Email: congressoffice.fb@

Oct 22-25

Sustainable Building 2000 Maastricht, NL Tel: +31.182-524233 Fax: +31.182-511296

Sept 9-12

6th European Conference: Solar Energy in Archtecture Email: inter_office@ eurosolar,org

Oct 25-28

Solar Millennium Congress Toulouse, FR Email:

Nov 1-4

Electricity for Sustainable Urban Development Lisboa, PT E-mail: lhonorio@

Sept 9-13

3rd European Conference on Product & Process Modelling in the building related industries. Lisbon, P Email: Ricardo.Goncalves@

Sept 21-23

Sept 29

Sept 28-30

Dublin 2000 "20 20 Vision" Dublin, IR Email: Dublin2000@ Innovations in Ventilation Hague, NL Email: airvent@ Green Cities in Europe Forli, IT Email: BagAu@


traffic, manufacturing and other processes. Perhaps the best known definition of sustainable development, that of the World Commission on En...

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