More than 40 percent of energy consumption in Germany and Europe is caused by buildings. Innovations in current construction and systems engineering allow for building concepts to be realized that feature a nearly-zero energy demand, and that may even produce an energy surplus. The buildings of the future could become micro power plants. Cities and municipalities play a key role in planning and implementing long-term projects launched in connection with the turnaround in energy policy. The transformation of energy systems towards a reliable, efficient and renewable energy supply can only be implemented on a local level. As this trend evolves, special attention should be paid to interconnected buildings in urban districts and city quarters, in order to facilitate the economic use of surplus energy generated (both heat and electricity).
The working group »Buildings - Districts - Cities« is involved in a large number of projects concerned with particularly energy-efficient and sustainable buildings and housing. For instance, the group successfully took part in the »Energy-efficient communities« competition launched by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), submitting two award-winning contributions out of five. The project »Stadt mit Energieeffizienz - SEE Stuttgart« primarily addresses efforts to intensify the engagement of energy supply companies, the housing sector, industry and residents to increase energy efficiency. By contrast, the project »Wolfhagen 100% EE« strives to transform the energy system of a small town into a system ensuring the full supply of energy from renewable sources.
The working group develops, supervises and evaluates energy concepts for high-efficiency individual buildings and settlements by private and public developers, prefabricated building manufacturers, systems manufacturers and energy providers. Team members develop energy concepts, climate protection concepts and long-term roadmaps for clients ranging from municipalities up to mega cities. Heat and cold systems and their interfaces with the building constitute the central fields of work. Another steadily growing task area is interfaces between buildings and electricity supplies based on renewable energy sources. Innovative solutions for an environmentally friendly energy supply are being developed especially for the district level, for instance for the cities of Kassel and Ladenburg, which aim to ensure the renewable energy supply of their new housing estates to the largest possible extent. In the scope of the 'Stuttgart Neckarpark' project, a new ultra-low energy city district will be provided with heat recovered from a waste water canal. The results and experiences gained also have an impact on the international level, e.g. in IEA EBC Annex 64 »LowEx Communities - Optimised Performance of Energy Supply Systems with Exergy Principles» or on behalf of GIZ China in the scope of the Sino-German Climate Change Programme in the project »Creating Integrated Energy Concepts for Selected Chinese Cities».