Sustainable cities and urban energy systems of the future. Urban Multiscale Energy Modelling (UMEM)

Scope of project

Current climate mitigation scenarios direct towards the development of sustainable urban environments being energy efficient, energy decentralized, producing and storing energy, reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, and using resources in a sustainable and economically way. Unfortunately, the rate of replacement of older energy consuming buildings by new energy efficient or energy positive buildings in existing cities is far too low to achieve the aimed energy and emission targets, mainly because of economical reasons and due to the fact that many of these buildings have historical and architectural value limiting their retrofit potential. Therefore, there is a need to propose and analyse new urban energy retrofit scenarios opening our horizon from building scale to urban scale. In this project the focus is on finding sustainable solutions for achieving the aimed energy targets on city quarter level, rather than at building scale. The urban energy retrofit scenarios profit from the enlarged economical potential of energy efficiency, energy production and energy storage by a cluster of buildings which are interconnected in a city neighbourhood and profiting from the urban energy infrastructure. The new urban energy retrofit scenarios’ have to take into account the impact of the urban heat island effect and the changing urban microclimate (e.g. heat waves) due to climatic change. The new concepts have to guarantee sustainable living conditions, comfort and health for their inhabitants in the urban and building environment.

The strategic goals of the UMEM project are:
  1. The development of an integrated multiscale modelling approach interfacing three domains: the urban microclimate, the building energy systems and the domain of human flows;
  2. The development and evaluation of urban energy retrofit scenarios for cities on city quarter scale including different mitigation measures for urban heat islands and climatic change.

The developed urban energy simulation framework will help collectivities, urban planners and stakeholders to evaluate the environmental impact of cities in a changing climate and to provide a basis for testing new urban energy retrofit scenarios.


Prof. Dr. Jan Carmeliet, ETHZ/Empa
Telephone: +41 44 633 28 55