18. Feb 2011 - Accompanying research meets practice: Expert workshop discusses local authority expectations
The workshop gave the guests an overview of the current state of energy-oriented town and urban planning in Germany, as well as about the goals and preliminary results of the research initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. Pilot projects with different spatial preconditions and usage requirements were presented in the form of the “Bad Aibling Park” conversion project and the energy-oriented “Old Zöllner District, Weimar” district concept.
As part of EnEff:Stadt, assessment criteria, concepts and design aids are being developed for local authorities and other players such as the housing industry and municipal utility companies. One research focus is on developing and testing planning instruments and control tools. For example, the European Energy Award (eea), which is based on the Swiss “energiestadt” programme, the Energy Utilisation Plan for the Munich Administrative District and the “Energy Concept Adviser” instrument for urban districts were presented. The aim of the Energy Utilisation Plan is to consider and coordinate individual planning measures at the land use planning level. For this purpose, settlement-based energy requirements are estimated and interpreted graphically in map form – analogue to the land use plan. In addition to analysing the existing conditions and potential, it provides a decision-making tool in planning local energy needs. Based on simple data determination, for example using benchmark tools, the Energy Concept Adviser on the other hand is not so much a specialist planning instrument but a guideline for already converting quality findings into quantitative conclusions during the preliminary design phase. This enables the energy-related potential of an urban district to be already assessed at an early stage and, on the basis of typical characteristic values, even enables conclusions to be drawn in relation to specific buildings. The energy-oriented assessment of the district shall be conducted using typical effort figures according to DIN V 18599 and could lead to an “Energy Certificate for Urban Districts”.
A further focus of EnEff:Stadt is on transferring these implementation tools into practice at the local level by providing information on the research initiative’s website and by publishing guidelines and research reports.
Productive exchange of experiences
The still very low rate of refurbishment at the local authority level was viewed as a problem during the discussions. Refurbishing local authority administrative buildings and other municipal facilities as a means of setting an example is not sufficient. The focus must be on motivating other owners by providing not just financial incentives but also funding programmes. This is because the reality at the municipal level is that, particularly with historically developed districts with old buildings, planners are having to deal with small-scale ownership structures with frequently diverging interests. Here, research can provide process-oriented support and offer experience from projects such as the eea, in which the mobilisation and networking of different players was particularly important.
Local authority climate protection concepts and their implementation seem to be based too often on current funding guidelines. Their success depends not just on the engineering analysis but also on the ongoing and long-term success rate as well as on accompanying public relations work that raises awareness among decision-makers and involves local players. For initiating and implementing municipal climate protection strategies, competent supporting bodies are required at the local level that have decision-making competence as “facilitators”. In addition to administrations, energy agencies are also an important target groups as advisers and multipliers.
This process is supported by promoting municipal climate protection concepts and climate protection managers in local authorities. This support needs to be matched, however, with training programmes. It would be conceivable to bundle such programmes into a “climate protection promotional programme" supported by the German government and/or the federal states. EnEff:Stadt can make a contribution here by integrating the experience gained at the local level into its pilot projects and by providing tools such as design guidelines.
Having competent personnel is not in itself enough, however, to solve all the problems. The different potential efficiencies show that individual concepts and strategies need to be found, i.e. individual footprints. Conceptual preliminary work for the local authorities could also be achieved here by EnEff:Stadt, for example on “local added value”. This is because it is principally economic arguments that convince municipal decision-makers such as mayors, organisations and energy suppliers. These include attracting new residents, demand effects such as those resulting from an increased demand for household-related services as well as increased publicity.
The actual benefits of the presented design aids would be more feasible for the local authorities if EnEff:Stadt pilot projects were also supported and validated with the Energy Utilisation Plan and the Energy Concept Adviser. The offer to test the use of the Energy Concept Adviser in municipal planning projects was received with considerable interest by the practitioners.
At the end of the workshop it was established that this was an open and very helpful sharing of experience for both sides, which should be periodically continued. It became clear that at the building level and in terms of using innovative technologies, the EnEff:Stadt research initiative extends not just the planning horizon but also the system and balance limitations. Its pilot projects have garnered experience on energy-optimised overall systems, integral planning processes and cost-optimised delivery. For the future orientation of the research initiative, new key issues were identified, including the mobilisation of decision-makers, their training and networking as well as new possibilities for controlling municipal energy planning and its ongoing quality assurance.