Peer exchange on the road towards 100% renewable heating and cooling



Tue, 12/20/2016
Cities, businesses and academia shared experiences on processes and tools to support local governments with integrating district energy systems in energy master planning, land-use, as well as urban policies and regulations – as part of a webinar series of the Global District Energy in Cities Initiative.
Chris Baber, Neighborhood Energy Manager at the City of Vancouver, Canada, illustrated the economies of scale enabled by district heating: while for single building and smaller system size the capital cost for avoiding one ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) typically ranges between $7,500 and $13,000 Canadian dollars, in neighborhood district energy systems this cost comes down to around $4,000 Canadian dollars. As part of Vancouver’s wider strategy to derive 100% of community-wide energy from renewable sources before 2050, new buildings in Vancouver are required to use 100% renewable energy by 2030. The local government has defined two very clear pathways to facilitate this transition:
  1. Reduce energy consumption by using very efficient building envelopes and ventilation systems.
  2. Connect to a Neighborhood Renewable Energy System where available, such as the False Creek Neighborhood Energy Utility which obtains energy from raw sewage and is financially self-supporting.
Nico Tillie, Chair of Urban Landscape at Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, presented the renewable energy potential mapping of the City of Rotterdam that was used as base to develop the city-scale energy master plan currently being implemented. Just by having access to the multilayers of spatial data, the urban planners were able to achieve significant energy savings of up to 70%. The underlying hierarchy is: reduction of demand, reuse of waste heat flows (for example exchanging heat between an ice skating rink and a swimming pool), use of renewable energy and eliminating fossil fuels.
The open source tool Plan4DE, funded by the International Energy Agency, was presented by Sustainability Solutions Group. This tool helps urban planners in optimizing urban form for district energy, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption.
Integrated energy, land-use and urban planning in the city helps to optimize energy and infrastructure investments and future-proof the system by contributing to higher heat load density and aligning development and district energy phasing to balance supply and demand. Key process steps and available supporting tools were briefly outlined during the webinar hosted by ICLEI in cooperation with UN Environment, coordinator of the Global District Energy in Cities Initiative – the recording is available here. Upcoming webinar topics include making the business case for district energy (February 2017), business models and financial structuring (April 2017).
ICLEI hosts this webinar series as part of the Global District Energy in Cities Initiative. To learn more or to join the initiative, please contact Ms. Ana Marques at