Special Issue "Toward Smart Cities: Zero Energy Buildings"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Annarita Ferrante
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Architecture, Università di Bologna, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy
Interests: Sustainable building design; energy renovation; safety in existing buildings; urban regeneration; carbon neutral cities; energy positive buildings; new horizons in urban morphology
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Giovanni Semprini
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Bologna, Viale Risorgimento, 2 - 40136, Bologna, Italy
Dr. Margarita Niki Assimakopoulos
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Athens, Athens, Greece
Dr. Niki Gaitani
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Research Centre on Zero Emission Neighbourhoods in Smart Cities (FME ZEN), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Sentralbygg 1, Gløshaugen, Alfred Getz vei 3, NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is widely acknowledged that, in the years to come, one of the key challenges to the decarbonization of the building stock is to improve, demonstrate, and validate key, radical, and groundbreaking technologies for energy-efficient buildings and neighborhoods based on affordable zero-energy and even energy-plus buildings. This means that feasible solutions for energy saving, production, transfer, and storage should be provided to change the current conditions where the majority of buildings is highly energy-inefficient and where the zero- or plus-energy concepts are often limited to a niche market of newly conceived, stand-alone constructions.

This Special Issue of Sustainability aims at collecting contributions to shift these current gaps into opportunities for future developments in energy efficiency and zero energy even of energy-plus buildings. To achieve this, energy- and non-energy-related benefits should be considered and analyzed for the society and the building construction market, including the impact on the environment and the mitigation of the local climate change.

Main TOPICs:

  • Zero-energy and energy-plus solutions in buildings and neighborhoods;
  • Cost-effective solutions and reduction of the payback time of energy efficiency measures;
  • Increasing quality and attractiveness of constructions at the urban and building scale;
  • Measures, tools, and strategies for the nearly Zero Energy in new and existing buildings;
  • Punctual densification policy to foster the investments in deep renovation of the existing built environment;
  • Case studies and best practices for energy-plus and zero-energy buildings; possible synergies between new and existing buildings; Energy production, energy storage, energy transfer at the different scales of the built environment.

Dr. Annarita Ferrante
Dr. Giovanni Semprini
Dr. Margarita Niki Assimakopoulos
Dr. Niki Gaitani
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Smart cities and planning
  • Zero energy districts
  • Plus energy buildings
  • Energy efficiency

Published Papers (9 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Article
Measurement and Verification of Zero Energy Settlements: Lessons Learned from Four Pilot Cases in Europe
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9783; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229783 - 23 Nov 2020
Viewed by 802
Abstract
Measurement and verification (M&V) has become necessary for ensuring intended design performance. Currently, M&V procedures and calculation methods exist for the assessment of Energy Conservation Measures (ECM) for existing buildings, with a focus on reliable baseline model creation and savings estimation, as well [...] Read more.
Measurement and verification (M&V) has become necessary for ensuring intended design performance. Currently, M&V procedures and calculation methods exist for the assessment of Energy Conservation Measures (ECM) for existing buildings, with a focus on reliable baseline model creation and savings estimation, as well as for reducing the computation time, uncertainties, and M&V costs. There is limited application of rigorous M&V procedures in the design, delivery and operation of low/zero energy dwellings and settlements. In the present paper, M&V for four pilot net-zero energy settlements has been designed and implemented. The M&V has been planned, incorporating guidance from existing protocols, linked to the project development phases, and populated with lessons learned through implementation. The resulting framework demonstrates that M&V is not strictly linked to the operational phase of a project but is rather an integral part of the project management and development. Under this scope, M&V is an integrated, iterative process that is accompanied by quality control in every step. Quality control is a significant component of the M&V, and the proposed quality control procedures can support the preparation and implementation of automated M&V. The proposed framework can be useful to project managers for integrating M&V into the project management and development process and explicitly aligning it with the rest of the design and construction procedures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toward Smart Cities: Zero Energy Buildings)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Sustainable Urban Regeneration through Densification Strategies: The Kallithea District in Athens as a Pilot Case Study
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9462; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229462 - 13 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 626
Abstract
The current main issue in the construction sector in Europe concerns the energy refurbishment and the reactivation of investments in existing buildings. Guidance for enhancing energy efficiency and encouraging member states to create a market for deep renovation is provided by a number [...] Read more.
The current main issue in the construction sector in Europe concerns the energy refurbishment and the reactivation of investments in existing buildings. Guidance for enhancing energy efficiency and encouraging member states to create a market for deep renovation is provided by a number of European policies. Innovative methods and strategies are required to attract and involve citizens and main stakeholders to undertake buildings’ renovation processes, which actually account for just 1% of the total building stock. This contribution proposes technical and financial solutions for the promotion of energy efficient, safe, and attractive retrofit interventions based on the creation of volumetric additions combined with renewable energy sources. This paper focuses on the urban reality of Athens as being an important example of a degraded urban center with a heavy heat island, a quite important heating demand, and a strong seismic vulnerability. The design solutions presented here demonstrate that the strategy of additions, because of the consequent increased value of the buildings, could represent an effective densification policy for the renovation of existing urban settings. Hence, the aim is to trigger regulatory and market reforms with the aim to boost the revolution towards nearly zero energy buildings for the existing building stocks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toward Smart Cities: Zero Energy Buildings)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
A User-Oriented Ethnographic Approach to Energy Renovation Projects in Multiapartment Buildings
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8179; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198179 - 04 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 319
Abstract
The paper presents the activities related to ethnographic research in the Italian demo-case adapted to the needs of the TripleA-reno EU project (Affordable, Attractive, Accessible deep renovation). The overall study methodology is focused on the four phases of the People-centered development strategy, which [...] Read more.
The paper presents the activities related to ethnographic research in the Italian demo-case adapted to the needs of the TripleA-reno EU project (Affordable, Attractive, Accessible deep renovation). The overall study methodology is focused on the four phases of the People-centered development strategy, which focuses on the core idea that “knowing people” should become an integral part of energy renovation development processes as a means of achieving new categories of products, services, or business strategies. Ethnography is a typical methodology of anthropology. It is based primarily on the end-users observation, during which the researcher is directly involved in the daily activities, interactions, and events of a group of people. Involvement is intended as a means to learn the explicit and hidden aspects of an end-user’s daily life. The primary objective is to understand interactions between building occupants and the building itself, as well as their relationships and roles within the renovation processes. Implementing this research in the Italian case study has made it possible to form a knowledge base on the opinions of the subjects involved at the national level. The application of simplified ethnography methods combined with an appropriately studied questionnaire, conveyed through a web form, allowed for gathering useful information. The quantitative questionnaire data collected were then compared with the open-ended interviews collected from the residents of the Italian demo case building that was undergoing a forthcoming renovation. By confronting European, national, and demo case levels, it was possible to verify how the resident attitudes change concerning the energy renovation processes once directly involved. The aim was to understand which most stimulating factors have to be considered in order to make the end-user onboarding and renovation project experience more affordable, attractive, and accessible. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toward Smart Cities: Zero Energy Buildings)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
A Holistic Approach for Energy Renovation of the Town Hall Building in a Typical Small City of Southern Italy
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7699; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187699 - 17 Sep 2020
Viewed by 486
Abstract
The reduction of buildings energy demand represents one of the main goals in developed countries in order to achieve a sustainable future. In Italy a significant number of public administration offices are located in historical buildings, especially in small provincial towns. In this [...] Read more.
The reduction of buildings energy demand represents one of the main goals in developed countries in order to achieve a sustainable future. In Italy a significant number of public administration offices are located in historical buildings, especially in small provincial towns. In this paper the analysis of the energy and environmental effects deriving from the plant renovation of the Palazzo San Giorgio, the building offices of the municipality of Campobasso (Southern Italy), is carried out. The simulation model of the building-plant system has been implemented with the TRNSYS software using data collected in the survey campaign. It has been calibrated on the basis of the billed electricity and gas consumption and then, further used to evaluate the reduction of the building primary energy demands and CO2 emissions deriving from some non-invasive energy refurbishment measures: led lighting, thermostatic valves, cogeneration system and photovoltaic plant. The latter was considered in two variants: the first one provides a system completely integrated into the roof, the second one high efficiency non-integrated panels. The interventions have been evaluated both individually and combined. A primary energy saving of about 47% and a reduction in CO2 emissions of 73% are obtained with the best combined renovation action. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toward Smart Cities: Zero Energy Buildings)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Combined Effect of Outdoor Microclimate Boundary Conditions on Air Conditioning System’s Efficiency and Building Energy Demand in Net Zero Energy Settlements
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6056; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156056 - 28 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 643
Abstract
In Europe, near zero energy buildings (NZEBs) represent the new frontier of energy efficiency in the built environment. Shifting the scale from NZEBs to net zero energy (NZE) settlements represents the opportunity to achieve further energy, environmental, and cost benefits, thanks to shared [...] Read more.
In Europe, near zero energy buildings (NZEBs) represent the new frontier of energy efficiency in the built environment. Shifting the scale from NZEBs to net zero energy (NZE) settlements represents the opportunity to achieve further energy, environmental, and cost benefits, thanks to shared energy management, optimization of renewable energy systems, and microclimate mitigation. In particular, the last aspect takes advantage of the implementation of local microclimate mitigation strategies at a larger scale to improve settlements outdoor environmental conditions and citizens’ wellbeing. Furthermore, this inter-building scale mitigation involves relatively less severe working boundary conditions for buildings, able to both reduce building energy demand and improve HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system’s efficiency. In this study, this potential extra-energy saving, achievable without additional costs, is explored within the framework of a NZE settlement built in Italy thanks to an ongoing Horizon 2020 project. Improved working conditions for the operating air conditioning system and building energy savings thanks to settlement scale opportunities for microclimate mitigation are assessed. Findings show how this effect represents a further non-negligible energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable benefit achievable through the design and construction of NZE settlements. Potential energy savings are up to 24% when considering the double effect of microclimate mitigation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toward Smart Cities: Zero Energy Buildings)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
A Conceptual Design of an Integrated Façade System to Reduce Embodied Energy in Residential Buildings
Sustainability 2020, 12(14), 5730; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12145730 - 16 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 845
Abstract
(1) The overall energy requirement of a building may be impacted by the building design, the selection of materials, the construction methods, and lifecycle management. To achieve an optimum energy-efficiency level when dealing with a new building or renovation project, it is important [...] Read more.
(1) The overall energy requirement of a building may be impacted by the building design, the selection of materials, the construction methods, and lifecycle management. To achieve an optimum energy-efficiency level when dealing with a new building or renovation project, it is important to improve the entire construction process as it is not enough to merely focus on the operational phase. If conventional construction practices do not evolve, compromise, or adapt to necessary changes, then it becomes challenging to deliver an ultimate low energy building. (2) This paper demonstrates the trend of off-site prefabrication and its production principles and the notions of open-building design and Design for X, as well as offering an overview of the development of automation in construction, which provides both insights and evaluations based on the context of the research. (3) Three European Union Horizon 2020 research projects were evaluated, and the outcome of the projects served as the backbone for the research and inspired the design of the proposed integrated façade system. Two design scenarios were proposed to demonstrate the potential improvements that could be achieved in a new build as well as in renovation projects. (4) The research lays a foundation for establishing a larger cross-disciplinary collaboration in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toward Smart Cities: Zero Energy Buildings)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
How Energy Retrofit Maintenance Affects Residential Buildings Market Value?
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 5213; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12125213 - 26 Jun 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 802
Abstract
By now, it is clear the built environment could play an important role in fighting climate change, since it accounts for around 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions. Generally speaking, Italian residential stock is over 50 years old and around 16% of that [...] Read more.
By now, it is clear the built environment could play an important role in fighting climate change, since it accounts for around 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions. Generally speaking, Italian residential stock is over 50 years old and around 16% of that needs large interventions due to its poor maintenance condition. So, the maintenance in this context can play a pivotal role in acheiving both energy efficiency and asset valorization. Introduced by a reference framework for the question in the title, this paper presents the case study: a portion of a working-class neighborhoods near the metropolitan city of Turin, marked by very recurrent typologies for the period (early seventies). The local real estate market is discussed to investigate the extraordinary maintenance impact on the property values: the paper considers the market value increase due to the energy class upgrade and the external look improvement. Individual owners putting money on this group of works get a very cost-effective investment and take advantage of Italian legislation supporting these kinds of interventions: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and in turn greater than the cost assumed for the renovation work. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toward Smart Cities: Zero Energy Buildings)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Green Wall Design Approach Towards Energy Performance and Indoor Comfort Improvement: A Case Study in Athens
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3772; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093772 - 06 May 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 948
Abstract
In the 21st century, sustainable development is high on the international agenda, with the implementation of green walls contributing significantly to achieving environmental and social benefits, mainly in the frame of sustainable improvement of the building sector. The installation of a greening system [...] Read more.
In the 21st century, sustainable development is high on the international agenda, with the implementation of green walls contributing significantly to achieving environmental and social benefits, mainly in the frame of sustainable improvement of the building sector. The installation of a greening system can provide engineered solutions for stormwater management and climate change mitigation at both the urban and building level. This facilitates improving indoor comfort conditions and reducing energy needs. In order to improve the features of products and to facilitate the implementation of a proper technical standard, this paper proposes a critical bibliographic analysis of more recent scientific works. Moreover, by means of a numerical model of an existing single-family apartment, placed in the Mediterranean climate zone, a building envelope refurbishment with a living wall is carried out. A parametric analysis provides evidence for the application of different plants’ types and insulation materials. The results are analyzed considering the energy needs, the thermo-hygrometric comfort, and the outdoor surface temperature variation of the building envelope, emphasizing that a multi-criteria design approach is needed for green vertical systems. The paper provides data and an approach useful for designers and researchers in the evaluation and optimization of the performance of greening systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toward Smart Cities: Zero Energy Buildings)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Cost-Optimal Net Zero Energy Communities
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2432; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12062432 - 20 Mar 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 831
Abstract
The objective of this research is to study the cost of Net Zero Energy (NZE) communities of different urban scales and densities, while taking into consideration the local climate and the type of buildings in the community. A comprehensive model was developed for [...] Read more.
The objective of this research is to study the cost of Net Zero Energy (NZE) communities of different urban scales and densities, while taking into consideration the local climate and the type of buildings in the community. A comprehensive model was developed for this purpose, with which the cost-optimal configuration of renewable energy-related technologies for an NZE community can be identified. To validate the model, data from two case studies that differed in their climate and building types were used. The results of this study contribute to a better understanding of the implications of NZE requirements for urban planning. An increase in the scale of a community was found to reduce energy costs, up to a certain point. Urban density, on the other hand, was found to have a more complex impact on costs, which depends on the local climate of the community and the subsequent energy demand. This underlines the importance of addressing the technological design of energy systems at the initial stage of the urban planning of energy-efficient communities, before the urban density, the unbuilt areas and the building types are set. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toward Smart Cities: Zero Energy Buildings)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop