Category Archives: Blogs & Articles

Metropolitan Solutions, Berlin, 20-22 May 2015

metropolitan solutions

In 2015 Metropolitan Solutions relocates to Berlin, where it will rank as the world’s largest combined congress and trade fair for smart cities. This delivers decisive benefits for visitors. For the first time, all the relevant issues confronting cities will be on the agenda at 12 high-profile international conferences. The exhibition forms an integral part of this event.

Metropolitan Solutions offers innovators an excellent chance to establish contact with an international audience – e.g. in the areas of urban mobility, energy supply, water supply/quality, building installations and urban safety/security.

See more at: http://www.metropolitansolutions.de/

Amsterdam Sustainable Agenda

The Amsterdam College of Mayor and Alderpersons has outlined new plans to increase the pace of improving sustainability in the Dutch capital.

infographic_sustainable_amsterdam_large

As part of the new motion, the number of households using locally-generated sustainable electricity needs to have increased by at least 92,000 by 2020. Concrete plans have been drawn up for energy saving efforts and accelerating the process of connecting existing houses to district heating systems. The construction market will be challenged to build greener properties. Air quality in the city will be improved through continued efforts to encourage the use of electric transport, by stimulating smart distribution processes and extending low emission zones to include more types of vehicles. During the current council term, work will be conducted at 111 schools to make them greener and healthier places to work. These measures are outlined in the Sustainability Agenda (Agenda Duurzaamheid), agreed upon by the city council on 11 March 2015.

Amsterdam embraces the notion of a circular economy and is keen to become an attractive location for innovative companies to set up shop: businesses with production processes that only produce useful raw materials instead of waste. In implementing the plans, the College will focus primarily on initiatives and projects that can be quickly rolled out on a larger scale. Alderperson for Sustainability Abdeluheb Choho: “Amsterdam is constantly growing and as such, we need to ensure that the city becomes stronger, healthier and more liveable. We’re looking to take the lead from Amsterdammers, organisations and businesses that are already demonstrating that sustainability has both financial and social benefits.” The College also envisages rapidly improving sustainability within the municipal organisation itself.

The Sustainability Agenda was agreed upon by the city council on 11 March 2015.

If you seek for more information about the Sustainable Agenda, click here or on the website of City of Amsterdam (in Dutch). You may also download the English version of the Sustainable Agenda of Amsterdam from TRANSFORM website under Downloads.

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

https://twitter.com/rvwarmerdam

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

https://twitter.com/rvwarmerdam

Webinar “Driving Smart City Parking Solutions” with Siemens & Intel

Webinar on March 12th 2015, 16:00 CET / 15:00 GMT

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 11.08.54Join Marcus Zwick, Head of Siemens Mobility Innovations, and Jochen Glaser, Head of Intel Software & Services EMEA,  discussed the Siemens Integrated Smart Parking Solution and how Intel could support the end-to-end solution with IoT & API management technology.

Learn how innovative smart city technology can benefit city authorities, technology partners and citizens alike with new business models.

This webinar covered:

  • Traffic reduction through smarter navigation
  • Statistical and real-time information on parking vacancies
  • Retail-sponsored parking initiatives
  • Automated parking payment
  • Increased safety through parking violation detection
  • And many more opportunities enabled by Siemens and Intel IoT & API management

Follow the webinar here.

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

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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.

Health
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

https://twitter.com/rvwarmerdam

 

 TRANSFORM goes GLOBAL

This title is the ambition of the people working behind the EU project: TRANSFORM.

It sounds so well due to several reasons: first of all it represents the motivation of the professionals working in this project from all TRANSFORM Cities, and secondly because transforming alone is not enough. The challenge is to transform together to make a true imSlide1pact that is needed to transform towards a low carbon economy.

Imagine this title as a reality, in a headline of an article in the newspapers of specialist magazine. Isn’t it great? It will draw smiles on the TRANSFORMERS faces. It will do, because this program required a lot of work for more than 2 years.

TRANSFORM chases a big and good cause; We want to transform cities into low carbon energy cities. We want to build a better future.

The TRANSFORM Program went global at an Accenture webinar attended by 150 people from 40 countries, all of them interested in the program and willingness to learn what is THE SMART WAY TO BECOME A LOW CARBON ENERGY CITY. The presentation used during this meeting, which is available in this link.

The webinar contained the following elements:

  • The global context showing that sustainability is a necessity and on the agenda of governments, cities, media and communities worldwide.
  • An introduction about the structure and workstreams of the program
  • The functioning of the tool that has been developed for smart energy planning and is called “Decision Support Environment” (DSE). The Smart Urban Labs in Amsterdam Zuid Oost where the DSE has been applied.

The TRANSFORM program, its approach and the DSE were valued, and participants saw opportunities to use them in other cities. The discussions afterwards gave a good basis for further transformation!

We are not only dreaming with the possibility of transforming things. We are doing something better… we are working on it.

Joost Brinkman
Joost Brinkman
Lead sustainability Services Benelux
Accenture