In the neighborhood
The corona pandemic has brought several years of economic boom in the construction industry to a sudden halt. Over the same period, digitization and greening/climate protection have been declared matters of development at EU level (European Green Deal) and by the Austrian Federal government.
BauZ! 2021, the 18th Vienna Congress for Sustainable Building, is accompanying the industry’s fresh start in 2021. On two days, forward-looking solutions and concepts will be presented and discussions with a domestic and international audience will be held.
The BauZ! Congress is a cooperation by the IBO with universities (Vienna Technical University, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Danube University Krems), UAS (Technikum UAS), non-university research establishments (ACR, Austrian Cooperative Research), the Foreign Trade Office of the Federal Economic Chamber (Future of Building), economic agencies of the Federal provinces (ecoplus Lower Austria, Vienna Business Agency) as well as Business Finland.
We are calling for contributions: your contribution can either be the presentation of a construction project or a (completed) piece of research. Digitization, BIM, and prefabrication may play a role in the contribution, yet the main focus should be on one of the following topics:
1. Livable neighborhoods
What is a neighborhood? It is the area that you can cover on foot, in which you will – in the corresponding range of movement – hopefully find a stop of a means of transport running frequently. Such an area is home to several thousands up to several ten thousands of inhabitants and is referred to as a “Grätzl” in Vienna.
Neighborhoods i.e. arrangements of buildings with public and private space in between which is the space that is actually constituted by what is designated as city, housing estate or locality. Neighborhoods live up to the requirements of their inhabitants if they enable you to get outdoors upon leaving the house but at the same time to enter the urban space and to mingle with people.
This includes free spaces, parks, a habitat for plant and animal life, air lanes, vertical and horizontal green spaces at buildings, infrastructure such as a happy medium of jobs and living or provided close to one another, shopping, health, all services …
And how do I move around in the city? The neighborhood viewed as a zone where its inhabitants meet while out and about on foot or using various means of transport. Occasionally, the concept of the separation of traffic flows has already been worked over, reversed and enshrined in traffic law under the heading of “shared space”. Potentials harbored by shared spaces…
Credit to the “Gstettn” i.e. derelict green spaces! “A place that has nothing to offer and thus has anything in the world to offer” (Ulla Unzeitig). A place the meaning of which is void and has not yet been overridden by any new interpretation and use.
Neighborhoods already begin in the building: communal areas, ground-floor zone
Experiences gained from the spring 2020 lockdown: what makes my immediate environment (more) livable? Balcony campaign. New housing need constituted by the “home office”.
Real-estate development can also be neighborhood development: what are we to do with unused real estate that is outright ugly, located in industrial areas but e.g. has existed for just 10 years?
Sustainable supply in the neighborhood (= materials, food, water, air, energy). Urban Farming in vacant real estate? (temporary use).
Are there “neighborhoods” in the rural area? Yes, but they might be referred to as town/village centers. In any event, they feature the same characteristics or functional profiles as urban neighborhoods: influx and departure of people, inbound and outbound commuting, infrastructure of any kind, absence or dwindling of essential infrastructure. Regional structures in the countryside: farmers as local suppliers, employers located in the town/village, family doctor located in the town/village, social environment, neighborly help.
Are there any attempts – along the lines of the “2000 W” concept devised for urban neighborhoods – to identify parameters and concepts also for rural areas?
1. Free space, greenery, a place based on rules, a place rife with possibilities
2. Traffic in shared space
3. Living and working, ground floors, neighborhood development, temporary use
2. Plus-energy neighborhoods
Climate-conscious neighborhoods are plus-energy neighborhoods. By 2025, the EU intends to have implemented at minimum 100 plus-energy neighborhoods (Positive Energy Districts).
Climate-conscious neighborhoods are CO2-neutral neighborhoods. CO2-neutral footprint 2040 – in which buildings and neighborhoods? CO2-neutral neighborhoods 2040 – tons of CO2 per person?
Plus-energy neighborhoods conduct integrated energy management coupling the sectors of electricity, heat (or cold) supply, traffic and industry. This means that neighborhoods will be provided with a new infrastructure of energy generation, storage and demand-based distribution between buildings. The energy supply which had been organized in a central way so far will be provided with a new and utterly complex role in the form of buffering.
Blackout: next crisis lurking? Are energy-flexible plus-energy neighborhoods more resilient?
Energy-flexible buildings are objects of refurbishment as well as of new construction. This is because, with a few exceptions, neighborhoods have already been built and are only extended, refurbished, densified and occasionally complemented by new buildings as well as upscaled by repurposing. Which precautions preparing a building for integrated energy management/flexible energy supply do actually make sense? Based on the 2016 “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package of measures, the EU wants to link up smart technologies with a high share of renewables and energy efficiency in the realm of buildings. To this, also the assessment of “smart readiness” by way of an indicator is to contribute in order to brace the building for the future demands arising in terms of renewable energy grids and user needs.
What is the benefit for occupants if buildings are operated in an energy-flexible fashion? How can energy flexibility also boost the efficiency of buildings? Which business and tariff models are required for a broad implementation of energy-flexible buildings? Do smart buildings need smart users?
1. CO2-neutral neighborhoods
2. Energy-flexible neighborhoods
3. Business models, tariff models, ownership
3. Low-tech principles and choice of materials for new construction and refurbishment in the neighborhood
Climate-conscious, CO2-neutral and energy-flexible buildings are constructed and operated according to low-tech principles. This means that straightforward solutions are sought after. Thermal capacities exhibited by a building’s envelope and an architecture using natural lighting and potentials for natural ventilation reduce the air conditioning and ventilation effort. The share of the built cubature (claimed for wiring, piping, air ducts and building technology power units) that is lost to actual use goes down. Similarly, there will be less effort for the construction and maintenance of such plants and also less energy expended for operation.
Low-tech principles are interesting from various perspectives: ecologically speaking, what is the best building standard with a view to climate and resource friendliness? Low-tech in the Smart City. Is that possible at all? Low-tech, also in office construction – innovating while using less technology? Low-tech and user comfort – is my building self-regulating? Low-tech or simple tech – do we have to get by without any technology at all?
Refurbishment is also a topic potentially relevant for neighborhoods: refurbishments involving several buildings. Are there new business models for refurbishments?
Refurbishment or new construction? This is also a question of choice of materials: As both heating demand and cooling demand are approximating zero, the share of embodied energy exhibited by construction materials becomes ever-more dominant in the energy balance. Is refurbishment or new timber construction then a key alternative emerging on the horizon?
Choice of construction materials/high-rise timber buildings: which components are designed as timber parts and which components are designed as solid construction materials?
1. Low-tech principles: architecture, constructions, choice of materials
2. Refurbishments involving several buildings: how?
3. In operation: low-tech and user comfort. Is my building self-regulating?