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Modelling frameworks for delivering low carbon cities: advocating a normalised practice

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Carlos CalderonORCiD


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Urban energy and carbon modelling is a fundamental instrument to estimate a carbon baseline at a point in time and to quantify the impact that policy-driven technological interventions could have on the overall carbon footprint of a city. This capability enables an evidence-based approach in which the economic case towards a low-carbon economy can be made. This paper will critically appraise current modelling frameworks for urban energy and carbon management in the UK and compare them to other leading countries and industries as to ascertain successful practices in achieving higher environmental/safety objectives. The authors will then explore future research challenges for the modelling community and argue that radical changes are needed in policy and regulatory frameworks, the implementation, use and verification of these models, funding-mechanisms, research culture and infrastructure and suggest how these changes can be instigated as to ensure that academic research remains relevant and potentially disruptive. Otherwise, urban energy and carbon modelling research may become interesting science fiction reading. The paper draws on the authors’ experience in two complementary projects. CarbonRouteMap is a joint project between Newcastle University, Newcastle City Council, and other partners and, to the best of our knowledge, it has delivered the most comprehensive spatial database of energy building profiles for a UK city. Newcastle City Council has utilised the method and tool to develop a strong evidence base on which to base its climate change policy and funding strategies. SynCity is an integrated modelling platform for urban energy systems developed at Imperial College London. The model allows users to simulate spatially- and temporally-resolved demands for building energy services (electricity and heat in the current case) before calculating the lowest cost configuration of infrastructure and conversion technologies, with or without carbon constraints. The tool has been applied in a range of case studies in both the UK and overseas.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Calderon C, Keirstead J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Building Research and Information

Year: 2012

Volume: 40

Issue: 4

Pages: 504-517

Print publication date: 09/07/2012

ISSN (print): 0961-3218

ISSN (electronic): 1466-4321

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/09613218.2012.680702


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