Planning and Implementing Positive Energy Districts from Concept to Practice

A special issue of Buildings (ISSN 2075-5309). This special issue belongs to the section "Building Energy, Physics, Environment, and Systems".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 October 2024 | Viewed by 7418

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
School of Industrial Technology and Business Studies, Dalarna University, Falun Borlänge, Sweden
Interests: positive energy district; solar energy; urban energy system
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Guest Editor
Institute for Renewable Energy, Eurac Research, 39100 Bolzano/Bozen, Italy
Interests: PED; urban planning; smart city strategies; climate-neutral cities; urban innovation; multiple benefits; appraisal and evaluation
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Special Issue aims to provide a platform for researchers and practitioners working towards the definition, planning and implementation of positive energy districts (PEDs) and climate neutral cities (CNCs) to exchange knowledge and experiences. The concept of PEDs/CNCs is evolving; although there has been a growing number of projects aligned with the PED/CNC aspirations in recent years, the development of such projects is still in infancy. Through an open and constructive dialogue, this Special Issue intends to identify success factors and learn from ongoing PED/CNC projects. We are particularly interested in reviews focused on the planning and implementation stages of PEDs/CNCs; accounts of existing cases; papers identifiying the main challenges, success factors and barriers of PEDs/CNCs; and papers working towards establishing the best practice.

Topic of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Definition of PEDs/CNCs: their quantitative/qualitative traces and methods to capture the essence of PEDs.
  • Characterisation of PEDs/CNCs: identification of key characteristics, creation of PED/CNC archetypes/references to support replication.
  • Stakeholder engagement: mapping of relevant stakeholders, their roles and needs in the PED/CNC development, stakeholder management in the PED/CNC processes.
  • PED/CNC processes: structure of effective process flow, methods/tools to streamline the processes.
  • PED/CNC legal, regulatory challenges: identification of key legal and regulatory barriers and opportunities to support PED development.
  • PED/CNC planning challenges: identification of key barriers in current planning tools and opportunities in the form of energy and climate strategies to support PED development.
  • PED/CNC energy systems: from identification to implementation
  • Modelling and control methods and techniques for planning, operating and implementing PEDs/CNC

This Special Issue is in collaboration with the International Conference  on "Smart and Sustainable Planning for Cities and Regions - SSPCR 2022", and the session "Planning and Implementing Positive Energy Districts from Concept to Practice: Mapping of Characteristics, Technologies, Stakeholders, Methods and Processes" (https://www.sspcr.eurac.edu/session-planning-and-implementing-positive-energy-districts-from-concept-to-practice/)

We are inviting researchers and practitioners working with PEDs and CNCs to present their studies and contribute to this Special Issue.

Prof. Dr. Xingxing Zhang
Dr. Adriano Bisello
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Buildings is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Positive Energy Districts (PEDs)
  • characteristics
  • technologies
  • stakeholder engagement
  • methods
  • regulartion
  • processes
  • planning tools

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

24 pages, 1542 KiB  
Article
The Role of Positive Energy Districts through the Lens of Urban Sustainability Protocols in the Case Studies of Salzburg and Tampere
by Marco Volpatti, Elena Mazzola, Marta Carla Bottero and Adriano Bisello
Buildings 2024, 14(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings14010007 - 19 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 988
Abstract
To achieve the ambitious CO2 emission reduction targets set by the Sustainable Development Goals, it is crucial to act on cities. Indeed, cities are responsible for 67% of the world’s primary energy consumption and about 70% of energy-related CO2 emissions. To [...] Read more.
To achieve the ambitious CO2 emission reduction targets set by the Sustainable Development Goals, it is crucial to act on cities. Indeed, cities are responsible for 67% of the world’s primary energy consumption and about 70% of energy-related CO2 emissions. To support the urban energy transition, a broad implementation of zero-emission districts or, even better, positive energy districts (PEDs) is expected. PEDs can be defined as energy-efficient and energy-flexible urban areas that aim to provide a surplus of clean energy to the city by using renewable energies. However, in developing the PEDs concept, it is necessary to consider not only the technical issue of energy systems but also the environmental, social, and economic spheres. To be effective, it is important to provide decision-makers with tools such as Urban Sustainability protocols for PEDs, which can effectively assess the complexity of the impacts a PED might have on other urban transformations from a multi-stakeholder perspective. LEED for Neighborhood Development, BREEAM Communities, and CASBEE for Cities are the most widely used and known protocols in the world for the evaluation of districts. These certification protocols were established before the concept of PEDs and, therefore, are not considered. However, they exhibit some shared characteristics which permit the evaluation of PEDs’ sustainability. In fact, through this research, an attempt is made to analyze how the implementation of sustainability protocols in existing PED projects can improve sustainability, but also how PED projects can improve evaluation systems through interventions that have not been considered so far. To test a methodology that could be extended in future case studies, an analysis of three of the world’s best-known certification systems, LEED-ND, BREEAM-CM, and CASBEE-UD, was conducted on two completed PEDs case studies, Tampere and Salzburg. Full article
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18 pages, 1457 KiB  
Article
Key Economic Drivers Enabling Municipal Renewable Energy Communities’ Benefits in the Italian Context
by Gianluca Ruggieri, Rebecca Gambassi, Paolo Zangheri, Matteo Caldera and Stefano F. Verde
Buildings 2023, 13(12), 2940; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings13122940 - 25 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1011
Abstract
Community energy is a buzzword that has historically included various type of experiences. In 2018, the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) legally defined renewable energy communities (RECs). Based on the first pilot projects and on the Italian legal framework, a possible REC configuration [...] Read more.
Community energy is a buzzword that has historically included various type of experiences. In 2018, the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) legally defined renewable energy communities (RECs). Based on the first pilot projects and on the Italian legal framework, a possible REC configuration of municipal initiative with a high replicability potential is one in which a photovoltaic system is installed in educational buildings and shares energy with neighbouring residential consumers. This analysis presents an economical evaluation of different possible scenarios depending on variables such as solar radiation, system capacity, fraction of self-consumption within the REC, installation costs and energy prices. All the scenarios identified and analysed show positive economic indexes, although the energy and economic results may significantly vary depending on the variables studied. In the analysed case studies, the Net Present Value (after 20 years) is between kEUR 51 and kEUR 478; the internal rate of return is between 9.5% and 88%; the payback time is between 13.6 years and 1.1 years. The results of this analysis are relevant as they allow us to better understand the critical factors that can enable REC in providing local economic and social benefits to have a real impact on energy poverty or on the provision of local social services. Full article
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22 pages, 958 KiB  
Article
ChatGPT for Fast Learning of Positive Energy District (PED): A Trial Testing and Comparison with Expert Discussion Results
by Xingxing Zhang, Juveria Shah and Mengjie Han
Buildings 2023, 13(6), 1392; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings13061392 - 27 May 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2467
Abstract
Positive energy districts (PEDs) are urban areas which seek to take an integral approach to climate neutrality by including technological, spatial, regulatory, financial, legal, social, and economic perspectives. It is still a new concept and approach for many stakeholders. ChatGPT, a generative pre-trained [...] Read more.
Positive energy districts (PEDs) are urban areas which seek to take an integral approach to climate neutrality by including technological, spatial, regulatory, financial, legal, social, and economic perspectives. It is still a new concept and approach for many stakeholders. ChatGPT, a generative pre-trained transformer, is an advanced artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot based on a complex network structure and trained by the company OpenAI. It has the potential for the fast learning of PED. This paper reports a trial test in which ChatGPT is used to provide written formulations of PEDs within three frameworks: challenge, impact, and communication and dissemination. The results are compared with the formulations derived from over 80 PED experts who took part in a two-day workshop discussing many aspects of PED research and development. The proposed methodology involves querying ChatGPT with specific questions and recording its responses. Subsequently, expert opinions on the same questions are provided to ChatGPT, aiming to elicit a comparison between the two sources of information. This approach enables an evaluation of ChatGPT’s answers in relation to the insights shared by domain experts. By juxtaposing the outputs, a comprehensive assessment can be made regarding the reliability, accuracy, and alignment of ChatGPT’s responses with expert viewpoints. It is found that ChatGPT can be a useful tool for the rapid formulation of basic information about PEDs that could be used for its wider dissemination amongst the general public. The model is also noted as having a number of limitations, such as providing pre-set single answers, a sensitivity to the phrasing of questions, a tendency to repeat non-important (or general) information, and an inability to assess inputs negatively or provide diverse answers to context-based questions. Its answers were not always based on up-to-date information. Other limitations and some of the ethical–social issues related to the use of ChatGPT are also discussed. This study not only validated the possibility of using ChatGPT to rapid study PEDs but also trained ChatGPT by feeding back the experts’ discussion into the tool. It is recommended that ChatGPT can be involved in real-time PED meetings or workshops so that it can be trained both iteratively and dynamically. Full article
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23 pages, 43572 KiB  
Article
A Quantitative Positive Energy District Definition with Contextual Targets
by Simon Schneider, Thomas Zelger, David Sengl and José Baptista
Buildings 2023, 13(5), 1210; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings13051210 - 3 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1815
Abstract
This paper presents the goals and components of a quantitative energy balance assessment framework to define Positive Energy Districts (PEDs) flexibly in three important contexts: the context of the district’s density and local renewable energy supply (RES) potential, the context of a district’s [...] Read more.
This paper presents the goals and components of a quantitative energy balance assessment framework to define Positive Energy Districts (PEDs) flexibly in three important contexts: the context of the district’s density and local renewable energy supply (RES) potential, the context of a district’s location and induced mobility, and the context of the district’s future environment and its decarbonized energy demand or supply. It starts by introducing the practical goals of this definition approach: achievable, yet sufficiently ambitious, to be inline with Paris 2050 for most urban and rural Austrian district typologies. It goes on to identify the main design parts of the definition—system boundaries, balancing weights, and balance targets—and argues how they can be linked to the definition goals in detail. In particular, we specify three levels of system boundaries and argue their individual necessity: operation, mobility, and embodied energy and emissions. It argues that all three pillars of PEDs, energy efficiency, onsite renewables, and energy flexibility, can be assessed with the single metric of a primary energy balance when using carefully designed, time-dependent conversion factors. Finally, it is discussed how balance targets can be interpreted as information and requirements from the surrounding energy system, which we identify as a “context factor”. Three examples of such context factors, each corresponding to the balance target of one of the previously defined system boundaries, operation, mobility, and embodied emissions, are presented: density (as a context for operation), sectoral energy balances and location (as a context for mobility), and an outlook on personal emission budgets (as a context for embodied emissions). Finally, the proposed definition framework is applied to seven distinct district typologies in Austria and discussed in terms of its design goals. Full article
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