Zero Energy: From Buildings to Districts - The Way Forward
While on the one hand, the government and private enterprises are still coping with the economic effects of the recession, on the other, the march towards a greener society has not stopped. If anything, the recession has only highlighted the need for self-sufficiency and sustainability in every aspect of life from economy to environment.
In keeping with this, the EU announced the recast of the EPBD earlier this year. One of the highlights from this was the targets on near zero energy buildings (NZEB). It will become a mandate for all new constructions to be NZEBs by 2018 for public buildings and 2020 for other buildings. This concept has already kindled the brainstorming of commercially viable ideas on technology that would be pivotal for buildings to comply with such standards. Energy generation and energy conservation will have to go hand-in-hand as highlighted in the recast itself, which mention the requirement of renewable energy generation.
Much of the thought process across the continent is still dedicated to the requirements of technology, labour and other factors and there is still much deliberation on how the market uptake for NZEB is going to be. While these problems are still being discussed, one city in Germany has taken steps towards implementing the near-zero energy concept, not at the building level but at the district level.
The city of Heidelberg has launched its plan to build a large zero-emission city district. This plan encompasses a region of 116 hectares and will be centrally located. The implementation plans include biomass and geothermic power plants to take care of the district heating requirements, encouragement for solar thermal systems for heating water, fund allocation for the construction of passive housing, rainwater management and an overall nature-protecting, electricity saving concept. In order to ensure quality, the authorities have undertaken a consultancy approach for building owners and developers for passive house concepts. The development company to be given charge of the majority of constructions has entered into an urban structural contract based on an energy draft encompassing the above mentioned ideas.
When completed, this will be the world’s largest passive settlement with near zero emission and the progress beyond NZEBs would have begun, as also the progress towards greener societies.
What is important here is the example that this city district could set for a joint effort of the public authorities, private builders and manufacturers and the public in achieving environmental standards in societies. This could very well be the way forward in implementing projects for energy conservation in buildings and cities.