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Surface synergies and conflicts in smart cities

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Credits: Eurac Research ; Source:

Surface area is an important but limited resource in cities that aim to become climate neutral. It can be used to, for example, generate heat or electricity via active solar systems, improve air quality via greening, or provide cooling thanks to highly reflective and emissive materials.


Scientists at Italian institute Eurac have now developed a multi-factor approach to study the synergies and conflicts that arise from using ground, facade and roof space in urban communities.


Their work plays a key role in global research platform Solar Neighbourhood Planning, also known as IEA SHC Task 63, which is part of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme. In addition, they have put their approach to the test by analysing a residential area in Bolzano, Italy (see photo).


“We see urban surfaces, such as streets, facades and roofs, as key elements in the planning process of, for example, Positive Energy Districts.


But we have observed that the usual approach these days is to focus only on one type of use,” explained Silvia Croce, a researcher at Eurac and the co-leader of the Economic Strategies and Stakeholder Engagement working group within IEA SHC Task 63 (the other co-leader being Daniele Vettorato).


The potential of facades in particular has been underestimated, as their surface area makes up nearly 50 % of the total in residential neighbourhoods. The Bolzano case study has shown that 46 % of urban surfaces are facades, 41 % ground area and just 13 % rooftops.


It should be noted, however, that the distribution in one of Bolzano’s industrial areas, which was also part of the study, is slightly different. Here, ground surface contributes 39 % to the total, facades 31 % and roofs 30 %.


Read the full article here.