Category Archives: Blogs

Transform Open Data

Capture2If you want to consume in an eco-friendly way you want to know how stuff is made, where it comes from and what it contains. If you want to live in an ecofriendly way you need to know what the impact of your behavior is. If society wants to build eco-friendly cities we need to know the impact of city design decisions.

But do you get the right information if you are standing in your supermarket? Do you really know the fish is eco sound? Do you have the needed information concerning your energy and water consumption if you want to live sustainably? Do we have the proper information to design eco-friendly cities? No. We still lack important data

In his great book “Ecological Intelligence”, Daniel Goleman explains how this could work. If we lack the proper data we are not able to change our behavior and invest effectively in the right direction. Goleman states that businesses and governments need to give full and honest information so they and the citizens are able to make decisions for the better. Goleman calls it radical transparency! By radical transparency, industry and trade will be able to change the supply chain of goods. By radical transparency governments and businesses will know the impact of changing energy systems and able to build the eco-friendly cities we are striving for. Transparency is of key importance and related data needs to be unleashed.

In the TRANSFORM program, data is one of the most important aspects. And as you will read in this booklet there is still a way to go. Amsterdam, one of the TRANSFORM cities, was able and maybe lucky to get a hold on all energy related data and connect it to the map of the city. A lot of hurdles needed to be overtaken to reach this goal and as you will read other cities struggled with this at the same time. It is not easy but time will show that this is possible for all other TRANSFORM cities. But data alone is not enough.

The big question is: now what? This is why AIT and Accenture have built a “Decision Support Environment” (DSE). Within this simulation tool the data comes to life and cities can run energy scenarios for future city design and (re)development. The DSE is able to support city design decisions and is also extremely helpful in facilitating the dialogue of cities with all their stakeholders like businesses and citizens. If we would be able to free the data and start acting transparently we would be able to build the systems needed to move towards low carbon or non-carbon cities. We hope this publication will support the discussion about open data and the need to be transparent about it. Let’s stop talking, let’s get started!

Read the whole document here!

Ronald van WarmerdamJoost Brinkman
Ronald van Warmerdam & Joost Brinkman

#Understand Transform (Learning from Economists #3). Transform post #27

The more I read about and work on energy transition in the urban context the less I seem to understand. It is because of its complexity; I think. That is why want to analyze one of the goals of the city of Amsterdam, written in the Sustainable agenda. The topic I want to investigate is the energy consumption of municipal buildings.

According to the agenda the municipality wants to diminish CO2 emissions of the municipal organization by 45 percent in 2025 compared to 2012. I assume it is also about its buildings. I made a simple drawing and we have 10 years to go.

lfe1 I know the city already has a contract for green electricity. So I have to focus only on the gas consumption for heating and cooling.

If you want to diminish the gas consumption of a building by 45% you have a serious challenge. You can only reach this goal after a big refit and a big investment.

On the internet I found that the city uses and owns about 2.200 buildings of different size, year of construction and quality.

Investments in buildings are normally done at a certain moment in time. Let’s say – for this exercise – once in the twenty year. Then the refit is serious enough to add the investment to meet the mentioned energy challenge.

The city needs to refit approximately 1100 buildings in the next 10 year; about 110 buildings a year. But after adapting 1100 buildings in 2025, the city is only half way. To meet its goals the gas consumption of all refitted buildings need to shrink by 90%.

WOW, I am getting a clue of the challenge that is energy transformation!lfe2

Let’s reason on. Pareto was an Italian economist and he discovered the 80–20 rule; also known as the Pareto principle. This is the law of the vital few. It states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Then maybe we do not have to refit all buildings. Following the Pareto principle we can assume that 80% of the gas is consumed by only 20% of the buildings. But the principle also states that the floor area of these buildings is 80% of the total area of all buildings.

In conclusion I want to state that we have to refit, in the next ten years, about 22 of the biggest municipal buildings. So the number of projects is less than I expected. If we compensate for the 20%, let’s assume we need to refit four to six buildings more. Feels like a relief?

If it comes to investments the rule is not useful. The floor space stays the same. Who has a clue about the floor space and who has an idea of the needed investments per square meter? If you have them please let me know. I am really curious and I will address my next post about it.

Read more:

Ronald van WarmerdamRonald van Warmerdam
Sr project manager Projectmanagement Bureau, city of Amsterdam / lecturer TuDelft / Coordinator TRANSFORM

Is there a TRANSFORM method? Transform post #26

Last weeks I wracked my mind about the theme of “THE TRANSFORMATION PATH”. The question I was thinking off was: Is there a path cities can use to transform? And with transform I mean the transformation from a carbon based economy to a sustainable one. It is what we strive for in our project TRANSFORM.

The TRANSFORM project is in its phase of completion and in the following monthblog ronalds cities and partners will deliver results. During the Amsterdam Smart City Event on June 3th and 4th, we will “jump on stage” to tell about our experience and explain the results.

There is a lot to tell I am sure! We’ve made tools, formats, and analyses, we did research and designed systems. Let’s call them methods in general.

Our cities are all West European, we share the same kind of culture, we are all democratic capitalist, our cities have the same kind of goals concerning energy transition and CO2 reduction and our political atmosphere is moderate.

But if you look closely, our cities are extremely different as well. Governmental traditions and administrative structures vary, our baselines are different, the political status quo is different and the relation with citizens and with stakeholders in the energy infrastructure varies greatly. The energy mix is different and the path to change it for the better is therefore different  in all our cities as well.

This is the source for puzzling my mind. Can we define a method for common use?

I do not think so!

Is that a problem? NO!

We use the TRANSFORM methods each in our own way and we adapt them in the best way to our cities’ specific situation or habitat. We pick the methods and tools that fit best to walk the path of transition. This could be a message to other cities: pick what you need and what fits your transition best. In this way we learn from cities and cities learn from us…. My next post will be about learning I think.


Ronald van WarmerdamRonald van Warmerdam
Sr project manager Projectmanagement Bureau, city of Amsterdam / lecturer TuDelft / Coordinator TRANSFORM

Learning from economists #2: Big Data or the invisible hand? Transform post #25

Every morning when I cycle through Amsterdam, thousands cycle, drive and walk through the city; everyone having its own direction or goal. I often wonder where all these people come from and go. I go, and thousands with me, from west to east and thousands pass me in the opposite direction. Thousands go from north to south and from south to north as well, everyone having its own destination. I think it is impossible to grasp the moving city as a whole. I have to accept the complexity of it.

I think all movement in my town is like the economy and energy is no different. What can I learn from economics if it comes to understand energy and energy tranblogsition?

The father of modern economics and the concept of free market is Adam Smith. He understood that economics and all transfers in society were so vast and complex that he could not grasp it. He called the “Invisible Hand”.

Other economics like Leon Walras (1834-1910), Alfred Marshall (1842-1924) and Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) build theories on the ideas of Smith, all dealing with the vastness, the equilibrium of the free market and the balance between demand and supply. Pareto asked the question: “Could an omniscient planner reallocate commodities among all the different people in the world in a better way that the free market?” The answer was no!

Smith and Pareto did not have big data. Was that a handicap? Would their results and knowledge be different if they had?

Even with big data we cannot grasp the vastness of our economic system.

In Smart Energy City projects we think that with the enormous amount of Big Data we can understand the energy system to make plans and change them for the better and sustainable. Is that true or false?

Can we re-design our vast, complex and unimaginable entangled energy systems into sustainable ones with the aid of big data? Is that possible or do we have to accept, like Smith and Pareto, that the force that drives the energy systems of the world are like the economy and that the real thing will always be (partly) invisible like the hand of Smith?

Ronald van WarmerdamRonald van Warmerdam
Sr project manager Projectmanagement Bureau, city of Amsterdam / lecturer TuDelft / Coordinator TRANSFORM

We have a challenge #2

How can we reduce the energy demand of buildings?

Although energy reduction is an important part of the EU 202020 ambitions, energy reduction in the build environment seems a hard nut to crack. Europe is not reaching this part of the goals while it is proven that investment in real estate efficiency pays back in a few years. It is not logic that it is not generally acknowledged and therefore it’s not changing the market for sustainable-refit of existing real estate.

Why not use the tax system as an incentive? This is what we discussed during a Transform dinner. The solution felt simple and we made a drawing of it.

Bonus Malus

Stimulating building owners to make a change might sound easier than it is. Although reality seems to prove different we still think the money stimulates humans, cheesy, but true. How does it work?

What do you think about efficiency investments like described above? You doubt! Are the promised saving numbers correct? Is the payback time thru or false? Do I invest in 5 or maybe 10 years payback? Uncertainty is not a good driver for decisions in efficiency; especially if it’s over a long period of time.

Humans want facts, certainty, numbers, and to be absolutely sure about the benefits. The drive will come when people are really sure that they ‘make money’ after investing.

Let’s explain the proposal for the tax system as shown in the drawing.

Building owners pay property tax. In the Netherlands this property tax is for fully based on the (market) value. Why relate it on the market value only if you can base in on the energy-efficiency as well? Imagine that 50% of your tax is about the economic and the rest is about the energetic value as shown in the drawing.

The idea is that owners investing in efficiency get a tax-BONUS and will not only benefit from their lower energy bill, but also from the lower tax. The bonus is directly visible and therefore an effective incentive! People that don’t invest in energy efficiency will pay a MALUS and end up paying a higher energy bill and a higher tax bill.

After the payback time of the efficiency investment is over there will be new round for investments and a new period for the yearly BONUS. Simple isn’t it?

Let’s go! We would like to say. What is your opinion?

Ronald van WarmerdamJoost Brinkman
Joost Brinkman & Ronald van Warmerdam



Dissenter meeting about IJ-burg II. Transform post #24


Amsterdam aims to build 5.000 new dwellings a year, which are needed because the city is growing. One of the projects regarding this goal is a new island in the IJ-Lake, south east of the old city centre. A kind of Nordhavn, known for Transformers from Copenhagen. On Wednesday June 4th I was invited, together with experts from different fields of expertise, to a meeting to review the plans of the city; it turned out to be an interesting meeting. It made me think of the Intensive Lab Sessions of Transform and my Transform experience proved itself very useful.

The plan in IJ-burg II is to build a dense district of about 1.200 apartments and houses, built mostly by citizens in a collective way, with several facilities, like shops, sport and workplaces. Below I will address some of the topics discussed in the meeting and relate them to my Transform experience.

One general recommendation was that the city needs to make clear decisions upfront and set clearly defined goals. Further I will explain why.

One of the aims is to build a city where people can live in a healthy way, all their life; from 1 year old to 99. This can be reached by:

  • Building centralized easy to reach sport facilities for all ages,
  • Build centralized parking places and not placing a car in front of every house, so people will walk and take the bike instead,
  • Make the new neighbourhood car free so children can play safely on the streets while cycling and walking is encouraged.

The most important outcome of this part of the discussion was the need to be clear about cars and parking. This is what we discussed in Transform and saw in the city of Freiburg, Germany in the new district of Vauban.

About Energy
All the buildings will be climate neutral; the same goal Copenhagen has for Nordhavn, Hamburg for Willemsburg and Vienna for Aspern. But what kind of energy system is needed for a district where buildings are extremely energy efficient? All electric? Smart grid with district heating? Bio gas from sewerage for heating? No one seems to know, the business case is not clear and the stakeholders are multiple. Feels like a Transform question… We discussed the idea of a tender for the energy infrastructure. The outcome needs to be set as a starting point for all buildings.

A flexible district
As we learned (again) from the last financial crisis humans are not that good in predicting the future. What will a new district look like in ten or twenty years? How could a district be adaptable for future change? How can a government facilitate change and does a city need to set rules? Or could a city leave it to the people? Who is going to invest in temporary solutions? And what if a temporary facility is very successful and popular?

We were not able to solve this wicked question. Maybe citizens have to come with the solution in time.

Citizen’s involvement
Last year, the city asked ARCAM (Architectural centre of Amsterdam) together with citizens to make future plans for the island. The results can be found on Stadinzicht.arcam. What citizens want is also a healthy, sustainable and liveable new part of town.

After discussing this topic we think the city needs to decide how to keep citizens involvement alive to build a new community that embraces the wanted goals towards a sustainable, healthy, flexible, and resilient district. But also that the city has to be clear about the roles citizens and administration can have in the process.

Ronald van WarmerdamRonald van Warmerdam
Sr project manager Projectmanagement Bureau, city of Amsterdam / lecturer TuDelft / Coordinator TRANSFORM


Learning from economists: The inefficiency of efficiency. Transform post #23

learning from economist #1Why on earth should we focus on energy efficiency and why does it hardly have any effect?

Some weeks ago I wrote about the energetic effect of refurbished dwellings, for which the city of Amsterdam invested 33.5 million Euros in the last years. Monitoring the effects is done by using the European standard for Energy Labels. It turns out that the diminishing effects are dramatically low: 1.65 metric tons CO2 instead of the upfront calculated 5.5 metric tons.

The economist William Stanley Jevons (1835-1882) was the first to describe the effect of inefficient efficiency measures. It is therefore called “Jevons Paradox”. In his book “The Coal Question” (1865) he describes the explosive growth of coal production after the energetic improvements of the steam engine by James Watt. In advance people assumed that great improvements in the steam engine would have a devastating effect on the coal industry. But the opposite was thru. Because of the great improvements the sale of steam engines soared and so was the production of coal.

Modern economists call this the “Rebounce effect”, which occurs after every energy-saving innovation. It is what we see everywhere around us: in our homes, our electrical appliances and the cars we drive.

Why should we proceed with energy efficiency? I think it is more effective and cost effective to invest in sustainable energy first, instead of the other way around. If you reduce the amount of energy needed in your house by 30% it takes two more years to burn the same amount of fuel compared to a not refurbished home: seven instead of five years. This is only a delay for the amount of energy we use and the amount of CO2 pushed into the atmosphere. Better invest in sustainable energy!

Investing in clean energy production like solar, wind, bio and especially the needed storage facilities feels more in tune with our strive for a cleaner world, solving problems of depletion, climate change  and geopolitical constraints! What is your opinion?


Ronald van WarmerdamRonald van Warmerdam
Sr project manager Projectmanagement Bureau, city of Amsterdam / lecturer TuDelft / Coordinator TRANSFORM


Innovation Partnership

Can we tender innovation’ Ronald van Warmerdam asked himself and us in his blog on August 11, 2014. Sure we can I would dare to say, but maybe not in the way we are used to. As Ronald stated in his article: the traditional procedures will not fit the demands of owners searching for innovation and will not fit suppliers who want to sell or develop innovative products.

Maybe there is a solution at hand. On March 28, 2014 the European Union published the tender directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement. One of the new items in this directive is the so called Innovation Partnership. A new tendering procedure specifically for the development and following purchase of innovative products, works and services. This procedure can be used under the agreed conditions for the products, works or services.

Goal of this new type of tendering is the stimulation of innovation and to support member states to reach their goals towards a more sustainable economic growth.

This procedure can be used in situations when there is a need for an innovative product, work or service what is not already available in the market. The contracting authority can enter in a partnership with the aim to develop and purchase the innovative products, works or services. A full swing tendering procedure is not mandatory in this situation.


Article 31 of the public procurement directive 2014/24/EU describes the Innovation Partnership procedure. In general the following aspects define the procedure for an Innovation Partnership:

  • The procedure has to be published by the contracting authority.
  • Any economic operator can submit a request for participation in the procedure. The contracting authority can decide if it will enter into the partnership with one or more partners.
  • During procedures the contacting authority can reduce the number of tenders on the basis of specific award criteria specified in the tender documents.
  • The partnership is structured in several successive phases following the sequence of steps in the research and innovation process. The partnership sets intermediate targets to be attained.
  • The contracting authority can, after each phase, decide to end the partnership or reduce the numbers of partners if this possibility and the relevant conditions are already mentioned in the procurement documents.

In conclusion

How will this stimulate innovation in Smart City development?

In any way this new procedure within the European public procurement directive offers contracting authorities the opportunity to set out the problem without defining any directions for the answer upfront. As stated in Ronald’s blog ‘you cannot describe something you don’t know’. Any such description is not necessary anymore in the innovation partnership procedure. Parties entered in the partnership work alongside in the development of products, works or services that are useful to fulfill the contracting authority’s needs.

The Innovation Partnership is a new procedure in the European procurement directive without a track record. The usability of the procedure has to prove itself in the future. In any case I expect innovation will no longer be blocked by the rules of European procurement. The Innovation Partnership offers a good opportunity for stimulation of innovation towards sustainable economic growth and smart, innovative cities. The step by step approach Ronald promotes is clearly made possible by this Innovation Partnership.

1e3e6d2Mr. Dik van Manen
Senior adviseur Contracteren en Aanbesteden
Twynstra Gudde

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