The INDICATE project will support decision makers and other stakeholders towards transforming their cities to a ‘Smart’ City. This will be achieved through the development of an interactive cloud-based tool, which will provide dynamic assessment of the interactions between buildings, the electricity grid, and Renewable Technologies and Information Communication Technologies (ICT).

Recommendations will be provided with respect to the best technologies to install, the infrastructure that requires improvement to enable local balancing and the utility services that offer the best financial plan. To understand how the decisions made will affect the overall urban environment, a set of Sustainable Urban Indicators will be developed, which will account for the knock on effects from changes made to the buildings, infrastructure changes or introduction of new technologies, within the urban context. The decisions taken for the buildings will therefore be influenced by the potential impact on the city. The interactive cloud based tool has the following goals, each of which is discussed in detail below.

GOAL 1: PLAN development through a dynamic simulation, energy-based decision support tool, which takes into account the buildings and their interaction with the urban environment.

The Need for Master-planning: Approximately 50% of the global population now live in cities[3] and urban population is estimated to reach 70% of the total population in the world by 2050[4]. Despite the recent proliferation of new sources of data in cities, this has not led to improved urban planning and sustainable growth[5]. Furthermore, a recent United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report stated that the need for smart city planning is paramount[6]. Most economic development and growth strategies encouraged rapid accumulation of physical, financial and human capital but at the expense of excessive depletion and degradation of natural capital including natural resources and ecosystems. As a result Indicators which inform how changes made to one aspect of a city, e.g. buildings, will affect the entire overall urban environment are essential for true sustainable development. Further to this, the world city’s summit, held in Singapore in August 2012, highlighted a number of challenges and opportunities for aiding in the transformation of cities towards the ‘Smart’ City. The outcomes from the summit highlighted that balancing energy supply and demand will impact economic growth and social development.

GOAL 2: REDUCE energy consumption and carbon emissions through an indication of the impact of best practice Energy Conservation Measures via Dynamic Simulation Modelling.

The Need for the Reduction: Of the 210 million buildings in Europe, the Architects Council of Europe (ACE) estimates that demolition will occur at a rate of 0.1% per annum (210,000 buildings), renovation will occur at a rate of 1.2% per annum (2.5 million buildings) and new build development will occur at a rate of 1.0% per annum (2.1 million buildings). Therefore, the importance of making existing buildings perform better within the Smart City is a key objective for Europe. As a result, a recent report from the EU[7] stated that we need to:

  • Stimulate the demand for a sustainable built environment, in particular for building renovation
  • Provide a better performance of the supply/value chain and of the Internal market for construction products and services
  • Widen the market prospects for EU construction enterprises at international level

Modelling and simulation to support the decision maker to determine which is the optimal way of retrofitting the building, while taking into account different factors such as the use of the building, the available ‘smart’ technologies, integration into the city and its systems and the geographic placement of the building would further aid this process. In addition, modelling of the urban environment and its integrated systems in a dynamic and holistic manner is imperative to understand the effects of changes on the city and the potential ‘ripple’ effect that may occur.

GOAL 3: INTEGRATE new technologies and services in the city to better manage supply and demand, via Dynamic Simulation Modelling, Graphical Information Systems (GIS) and 3D urban modelling which will reliably inform the impact of the integrated technologies.

The Need for Integration: There are many different technologies used to distribute energy for urban cities. This includes small scale Renewable Energy Technologies (RET) such as solar photovoltaic and solar hot water and larger scale ones such as geothermal energy, tri-generation, Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit etc. These systems provide alternative based centralised electricity and are becoming a popular option for cities around the world. For example, urban areas may be located where there is large biomass potential through forestry or wood processing residues. For example urban areas may be located at the place where there is large biomass potential through forestry or wood processing residues. This presents an opportunity to develop the biomass fired district heating and CHP plants near the urban city. However, urban modelling is required to analyse the energy load demand such as heating load, electricity load and cooling load to determine the most suitable sources of energy for the area and the optimal way to integrate these technologies with the city.

GOAL 4: OPTIMISE existing installed systems, to enable local balancing through demand response analysis and tariff analysis via Dynamic Simulation Modelling, which will model the interactions between the buildings the installed systems and the electricity grid, across multiple buildings in the urban environment.

The Need for Optimisation: The integration of CHP and other district heating and cooling systems can be only economically viable where there is sufficient building density and mixed land use to provide these additional services[8]. To achieve integration of these many different energy systems into the ‘smart city’ requires heat, electricity and cooling planning strategies to be implemented; therefore the need for dynamic simulation modelling to optimise the size of energy systems in the ‘smart city’ is clearly justified. Furthermore, through small scale RET, electricity is no longer only supplied from a centralised source. As a result, there will be different energy flows in all directions as supply comes from renewable energy sources located on site (direct transmission) and located off-site (transmitted through the electricity grid). In addition, there will also be transmission and power losses relating to these flows.

The INDICATE cloud-based interactive decision support tool, can be used at any stage of development; it can be used in a city where the buildings and their urban environment are at an early stage of the sustainable development or in contrast where the city has already installed smart grid infrastructure and energy efficient technologies are present in many buildings. The project outcome is the delivery of a cloud-based interactive decision support tool that can be used by City Architects/Planners, Urban Planning Consultancy Firms, the Public and Business Community, ICT/RET (Renewable Energy Technologies) system suppliers and potential investors and developers in a city.