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Renewable Energies in the Built Environment

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2024 | Viewed by 5268

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering (DABC), Politecnico di Milano, 20133 Milan, Italy
Interests: renewable energies; energy efficiency; energy audit; energy simulation; built environment; cultural heritage
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS), National University of Singapore, Singapore 117574, Singapore
Interests: BIPV design and construction; retrofitting BAPV; urban PV; coloured PV module design; BIPV BIM; BIPV policies

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Guest Editor
Department of Architecture, School of Architecture and Design, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing 100044, China
Interests: PV applied in built environment; evaluation of PV potential; passive solar energy technology; wind energy applied in built environment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the Special Issue titled "Renewable Energies in the Built Environment". The current age heralds an epoch of immense transformation, a pivotal point in the annals of human history. Our built environment is undergoing a metamorphosis, driven by the need for sustainable development and energy efficiency. This revolution brings with it an opportunity to reimagine and redefine the way we harness and utilize energy.

The focus of this Special Issue is the exploration of renewable energy technologies in the context of the built environment. With a particular emphasis on the design, construction, operation, and integration of renewable energy systems, we delve into the frontiers of renewable energy resources such as:

  • Solar energy;
  • Wind technologies;
  • Biomass and bioenergy;
  • Geothermal energy;
  • Hydropower;
  • Ocean Energy.

Important topics, challenges, advanced solutions, and future perspectives can be delineated considering integration criteria and cutting-edge technologies as well as case studies, policies, and specific applications.

Special attention is devoted to the evolving area of solar energy technologies, as they are shaping a new paradigm in architectural and urban design. This includes both pioneering works on module design, photovoltaics or solar thermal integration in retrofitted buildings to foster the harmonious coexistence of aesthetic appeal, technologic development, and energy production. In line with this, the potential of Building Information Modeling (BIM) to aid the solar technologies’ integration into the design and construction processes is explored. Additionally, the policy environment influencing their implementation is scrutinized, shedding light on how these policies can further propel the adoption of renewable energy in the built environment. Moreover, special attention is paid to wind energy technologies, considering wind farms, landscape integration, visibility mapping, policy, and acceptability issues. Furthermore, the integration of ground source heat pumps in existing buildings is considered, describing construction and design phases as well as administrative and technical procedures. Finally, hydropower and ocean energy integration in the built environment or in existing landscapes can be approached. In all cases, this Special Issue explores these technologies from design and construction perspectives and investigates their increasing presence in urban environments.

At the intersection of built environment and renewable energy lies the challenge of balancing conservation and innovation, especially when it comes to cultural heritage. This Special Issue ventures into the realm of adapting renewable technologies in culturally significant built environments and heritage built environments, presenting a delicate interplay of tradition and modernity. Furthermore, this issue acknowledges the importance of energy efficiency, with a focus on energy auditing and simulation. These tools enable the efficient use of energy resources, paving the way for sustainability in our built environment.

In summary, "Renewable Energies in the Built Environment" aims to present a holistic view of the opportunities and challenges associated with integrating renewable energy into the fabric of our built environment. This Special Issue provides a platform for thought-provoking discussions, innovative ideas, and the sharing of best practices, heralding a sustainable future for our cities and communities. Its scope spans across several domains of research—engineering, architecture, urban planning, environmental sciences, policymaking, and heritage conservation—aiming to foster innovative and sustainable solutions to energy use in the context of the built environment.

In this Special Issue, original research articles and reviews are welcome. Research areas may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Emerging technologies in renewable energy;
  • Integration of photovoltaics (PV), photovoltaic–thermal (PVT), and solar thermal (ST) technologies in the built environment;
  • Integration of wind system technologies and wind farms;
  • Geothermal, hydropower, and ocean energy;
  • Digital tools for renewable energy integration;
  • Renewable energy policies and regulation;
  • Design criteria for renewable energies;
  • Integration of renewable energies in heritage areas and buildings;
  • Renewable energies in urban design;
  • Energy landscapes;
  • Case study and applications.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Prof. Dr. Elena Lucchi
Dr. Tianyi Chen
Prof. Dr. Wen Zhang
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. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly 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 2400 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

  • renewable energy
  • solar energy
  • photovoltaics
  • PVT (photovoltaic–thermal)
  • solar thermal
  • wind technologies
  • biomass
  • geothermal energy
  • BIPV (building integrated photovoltaics)
  • BAPV (building applied photovoltaics)
  • urban PV
  • PV and BIM (building information modeling)
  • PV policies
  • energy efficiency
  • energy audit
  • energy simulation
  • built environment
  • cultural heritage
  • sustainability
  • energy-efficient design

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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27 pages, 8401 KiB  
Article
Energy Performance Analysis of the Renovation Process in an Italian Cultural Heritage Building
by Nikolaos Ziozas, Angeliki Kitsopoulou, Evangelos Bellos, Petros Iliadis, Dimitra Gonidaki, Komninos Angelakoglou, Nikolaos Nikolopoulos, Silvia Ricciuti and Diego Viesi
Sustainability 2024, 16(7), 2784; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16072784 - 27 Mar 2024
Viewed by 627
Abstract
Renovating buildings with cultural heritage significance is an important step toward achieving sustainability in our cities. The benefits are not only energy-related but also encompass social aspects that make these renovations a high apriority. The present work investigates the renovation process of a [...] Read more.
Renovating buildings with cultural heritage significance is an important step toward achieving sustainability in our cities. The benefits are not only energy-related but also encompass social aspects that make these renovations a high apriority. The present work investigates the renovation process of a cultural heritage building in the Municipality of Trento in Italy, specifically focusing on achieving energy savings and renewable energy integration by implementing various renovation actions. These renovation actions include improvements to the building envelope, such as roof insulation and window replacements. Additionally, the renovation actions for active systems involve the installation of a ground-source heat pump for heating/cooling coupled with a borehole thermal energy storage system, which is an innovative technology for the renovation of cultural heritage buildings. The electrical systems of the building are upgraded through the addition of standard rooftop photovoltaics, innovative building-integrated photovoltaics (shingles), and the installation of an LED lighting system. The baseline and the renovation scenarios are studied using the dynamic simulation tool INTEMA.building, written in the programming language Modelica. This tool simulates both the building envelope and the energy systems with a high level of detail, using advanced control systems and adjustable time steps. According to the simulation analysis, the primary energy demand is reduced by 30.49%, the final energy demand by 36.74%, and the net electricity demand by 8.72%. Results from this study can be useful to interested stakeholders (e.g., building owners, architects, construction companies, public agents, and urban planners) dealing with the renovation of cultural heritage and protected buildings. Also, the results can be exploited for estimating energy savings by applying advanced renovation strategies for cultural heritage buildings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Renewable Energies in the Built Environment)
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24 pages, 31950 KiB  
Article
Passive Energy Conservation Strategies for Mitigating Energy Consumption and Reducing CO2 Emissions in Traditional Dwellings of Peking Area, China
by Liang Xie, Lai Fan, Dayu Zhang and Jixin Liu
Sustainability 2023, 15(23), 16459; https://doi.org/10.3390/su152316459 - 30 Nov 2023
Viewed by 671
Abstract
Within China, brick dwellings stand as archetypal relics of traditional habitation, embodying a “living fossil” status. The sustainability of these dwellings is contingent upon the integration of energy-conservation strategies. This study scrutinized and empirically assessed a representative dwelling in the Peking area. Using [...] Read more.
Within China, brick dwellings stand as archetypal relics of traditional habitation, embodying a “living fossil” status. The sustainability of these dwellings is contingent upon the integration of energy-conservation strategies. This study scrutinized and empirically assessed a representative dwelling in the Peking area. Using numerical simulations, the impact on energy consumption of factors such as insulation and glazing type, external wall thickness, insulation thickness, and solar energy utilization was evaluated. The outcomes reveal that introducing external thermal insulation—specifically, expanded polystyrene panels with a thickness of 60 mm and 40 mm for the roof and exterior walls, respectively—along with a sunspace of depth 1.5 m yielded superior energy efficiency. Additionally, substituting conventional roofing with solar tiles exhibited a potential annual electricity generation coupled with an annual solar radiation conversion efficiency of 17%. Collectively, these strategies induced a substantial reduction in annual energy consumption. This study presents tailored energy-conservation measures and provides design decision support for architects’ practical recommendations on thermal environment control of passive traditional dwellings in the Peking area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Renewable Energies in the Built Environment)
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18 pages, 1477 KiB  
Article
The Obstacles to the Growth of the Renewable Energy Industry in the European Union
by Dmytro Osiichuk
Sustainability 2023, 15(19), 14612; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151914612 - 9 Oct 2023
Viewed by 655
Abstract
The study presents a comparative analysis of the financial standing of renewable- and conventional-energy-generating companies domiciled in the European Union, and explores factors contributing to their operating performance and financing needs. The comparative analysis of electricity-generating companies demonstrates that renewable energy providers have [...] Read more.
The study presents a comparative analysis of the financial standing of renewable- and conventional-energy-generating companies domiciled in the European Union, and explores factors contributing to their operating performance and financing needs. The comparative analysis of electricity-generating companies demonstrates that renewable energy providers have steadily improved their financial standing and appear well-prepared to compete with conventional energy generation from fossil fuels. Relying on univariate statistical tests, we demonstrate that, at present, renewable energy companies generate a significantly higher return on assets and make larger investment outlays than their conventional peers. Univariate cross-sectional tests confirm that they also enjoy access to cheaper equity and more plentiful debt financing thanks to a shift in the priorities of financial institutions and capital markets. We posit that, besides the cumbersome permit system, the biggest challenge to the operating performance of renewable energy firms could reside in the restrictive revenue caps, price regulation, and renewable firms’ exposure to spot market price fluctuations. The econometric analysis based on multivariate panel regression models demonstrates that the profitability and financing needs of renewable energy companies are more sensitive to electricity prices than those of conventional energy firms. We conclude that higher energy prices and greater reliance on market pricing mechanisms could significantly boost the performance of the renewable energy sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Renewable Energies in the Built Environment)
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18 pages, 5338 KiB  
Article
Research on the Spatial Pattern of Carbon Emissions and Differentiated Peak Paths at the County Level in Shandong Province, China
by Xinyu Han, Peng Qu, Jiaqi Wu, Beile Su, Ning Qiu and Lili Zhang
Sustainability 2023, 15(18), 13520; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151813520 - 9 Sep 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1113
Abstract
In the pursuit of China’s carbon peak and carbon neutrality objectives, county-level areas assume a pivotal role in orchestrating diverse initiatives for low-carbon development. However, empirical evidence is limited. This paper aims to fill this gap by exploring the driving factors of carbon [...] Read more.
In the pursuit of China’s carbon peak and carbon neutrality objectives, county-level areas assume a pivotal role in orchestrating diverse initiatives for low-carbon development. However, empirical evidence is limited. This paper aims to fill this gap by exploring the driving factors of carbon peak and carbon peak path at the county level, using Shandong Province as a case study. Employing data related to economic development, industrial structure, land utilization, energy consumption, and emission characteristics, a principal component analysis (PCA) was utilized to extract the following five driving factors of carbon peak: green transformation, urbanization, industrial construction, energy consumption, and environmental constraints. Subsequently, K-means clustering identified five cluster areas: (1) agricultural transformation pending area, (2) low-carbon lagging area, (3) industrial transformation area, (4) low-carbon potential areas, and (5) low-carbon demonstration area. Based on these areas, this study further elucidates spatial combination models of carbon peak within the urban system, spanning central cities, coastal cities, resource-based cities, and agricultural cities. The paper enhances comprehension of the integral role county-level areas play in achieving China’s carbon reduction objectives. By providing nuanced insights into diverse developmental trajectories and spatial interactions, the study contributes to effective low-carbon strategy formulation. The findings underscore the importance of considering specific county attributes in urban areas to devise precise optimization strategies and trajectories, ultimately facilitating the realization of carbon peak goals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Renewable Energies in the Built Environment)
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Review

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22 pages, 3480 KiB  
Review
Research on Carbon Emission Structure and Model in Low-Carbon Rural Areas: Bibliometric Analysis
by Zejun Yu, Yao Wang, Bin Zhao, Zhixin Li and Qingli Hao
Sustainability 2023, 15(16), 12353; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151612353 - 14 Aug 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1210
Abstract
As the energy crisis and environmental problems are exacerbated, rural carbon emissions have gradually attracted increasing attention. Meanwhile, rural areas have the important function of ecological carbon sequestration, so the research field of carbon emissions has gradually expanded from urban to rural areas [...] Read more.
As the energy crisis and environmental problems are exacerbated, rural carbon emissions have gradually attracted increasing attention. Meanwhile, rural areas have the important function of ecological carbon sequestration, so the research field of carbon emissions has gradually expanded from urban to rural areas in recent years. To systematically sort out the research progress regarding low-carbon rural areas, a total of 583 papers published during 2013–2023 were acquired through the bibliometric analysis method from the “professional field of science of building technology” in the core database of Web of Science. Then, the research stage, author cooperation, institutional cooperation, national distribution, and keyword co-occurrence of “low-carbon rural areas” were analyzed via data visualization analysis software VOSviewer, and the current hot issues, such as carbon emission calculation list and elements, carbon emission measurement method/model, and energy saving and emission reduction paths, were further summarized and reviewed. The statistical analysis results show that: (1) in most of the current research on rural carbon emissions, geographical characteristics and rural carbon emissions have been rarely analyzed; (2) there is a lack of interdisciplinary research, e.g., less cooperation with geographic information or other disciplines; (3) the differences and characteristics of rural carbon emission factors in different economies and regions have rarely been analyzed. Based on the analysis, this research pointed out that future research can be comprehensively carried out in formulating rural carbon emission inventory, establishing a multi-scale and multi-regional statistical method and so on. This research also provides a comprehensive analysis and summary of the existing research on the structure and model of carbon emissions in low-carbon rural areas and also presents the problems that need to be paid attention to in the future research, pointing out the research direction for relevant scholars. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Renewable Energies in the Built Environment)
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