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Beautiful, Sustainable and Together in District heating networks

There are plenty of rational arguments for implementing heat networks, as Heat Networks offer numerous advantages and opportunities. They are an efficient, reliable, and proven solution for increasing energy security while reducing the carbon footprint of heat. They are convenient and affordable for customers, yet profitable for owners. They enable communities to generate local jobs, increase social welfare, and bolster resilience in turbulent times.

However, as we all know, humans are not only intellectual. Our emotional side is potentially even stronger, not least in complex decision-making processes. Windmills and solar panels are clearly visible. Some people living nearby may object, but all in all the installations send signals of sustainability and progress. By contrast, heating and cooling networks are silent and hidden underground.

This is a unique benefit in respects, except when it comes to communication. The question is – How do we bring out the inner beauty of what can’t be seen?

How can we display and describe the benefits of something that can’t be seen?

How do we make the invisible visible?

How do we appeal to the emotional side of decision making processes?

A webinar was organised by CARTIF, VITO, IVL, and Heat Academy to explain how the New European Bauhaus principles (Beatiful, Sustainable, Together) have been applied in District heating networks, which can help to bring out the inner beauty of what can't be seen. The complete report with these findings will be published soon by the EU Joint Research Centre.

sustainable DHC network is one that is efficient (maximizes energy transferred from the network to the buildings in accordance with their heat/cold demand, is integrated with other grids, has reduced losses, etc.), integrated with environmentally-friendly concepts (circularity, re-uses industrial waste/excess heat, no combustion, etc.) and has low-carbon heat/cold sources.
A together DHC and neighbourhood is related to open spaces (playgrounds, sports areas, shared installations, etc.), reduction in energy poverty (reasonable energy costs, socially inclusive and socially just/ethical), inclusion and communities (collective decision-making about common assets, and democratic collaboration between neighbours and various stakeholders in the DHC value chain to achieve win-win situations).
A beautiful neighbourhood considers mainly “nature” (and words such as green, green areas, garden, park, flowers or trees, associated with it), “playground” (or shared spaces), and words related to “mobility” (congestion free or bike paths). beautiful DHC instead is associated with art, clean, architecture, and DHC systems that are visible for learning or multifunctional (a space that can be used for multiple purposes).

If you want to see some case studies and insights already, see the recording of the webinar  here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/k9q9s9i4vpvnyro/AAAOXLsF-F4au48cgOK6XMvSa?dl=0

If you want to know more check the scientific article summarizing the results: Buildings | Free Full-Text | District Energy Viewed from the New Bauhaus Initiative Perspective—Sustainable, Inclusive and Aesthetic Heat (mdpi.com)


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Emilia Motoasca, Janka Vanschoenwinkel, Thomas Neven (VITO)
Nathalie Fransson, Mirjam Särnbratt Kristina Lygnerud (IVL)
Carolina Pastor De Paz, Alberto Belda González (CARTIF)


Awareness raisingCitizen participationSocial innovationClimate resilienceGreen areasLocal resourceNature based solutionsEnergyIndustrySustainable fuelTechnology
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