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By 2050, 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in a city. Demand for energy, water and other services will reach potentially unsustainable levels. Unless we use the economies of scale presented by people living in such close proximity to cluster energy needs together in ways that actually reduce energy consumption, resource use and costs.
The Cluster Principle in Action
Consider a row of four houses. Each house has its own boiler, requiring lots of energy to heat the water from cold, every morning and every evening, when the residents want their hot water. This isn’t a very good use of energy. Not only does it require the maximum amount of energy to heat the water from cold, there are four boilers in close proximity, all doing the same thing.
What if instead, you were to replace the four individual boilers with just one slightly larger boiler and leave it to run at optimal efficiency, just below its maximum load all day every day?
You could dramatically reduce the energy costs for the residents, while also increasing their access to hot water. Now this isn’t new, District Heating has been around in social housing contexts for decades, but we can now take this principle further to include community energy generation and sharing, national grid interaction, and connections to electric cars, transport and retrofitting, for example.
Making Cities Smart
Our vision is that by taking a smart approach to a communities’ development you can deliver a city which operates in an integrated fashion. One which uses digital technologies to enhance performance and wellbeing, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and also to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens. A Smart City.
Buildings; the main connectors between transport, energy, health, water and waste in a community, need to be at the core of this approach. Our belief is that by taking the lifecycle of the urban environment into account city planners can affordably start to create Smart Communities, scaling up to Smart Cities.
Imagine a series of smart neighbourhoods, made up of smart buildings capable of integrating with one another and the utilities to conserve energy. Each home is also capable of generating solar energy. The only problem is the residents are mostly out at work during the day, so they can’t use all the energy generated.
Instead of attempting to use harmful chemicals to store the energy, in a process that typically results in much of the energy being lost, a smart city would redirect the excess solar energy to a nearby business – as it’s being generated – eliminating waste and reducing costs.
Read more in IES – The Future of Energy Reduction.