Assessing the performance of Positive Energy Districts: The need for innovative methods


Positive Energy Districts (PEDs) are potential high-impact climate change mitigation actions towards low carbon or even climate neutral cities. This implies that the energy performance and greenhouse gas emissions of PEDs need to be assessed. To this end, an accounting methodology, metrics, supporting (accounting) tools, and reporting are necessary that capture the full energy and climate impact of PEDs. The European Commission's Building Energy Specification Table (BEST) provides a methodological approach for calculating the energy balance of PEDs. The BEST is a formal requirement of the European Commission's proposal process, with respect to the Horizon 2020 funding program. An improved methodology for calculating the annual energy balance of a of PED, based on the international standard ISO52000, was developed by the Making City project in 2020.

In this paper, we evaluate and compare accounting methods for assessing the energy performance of PEDs and conclude on their use and shortcomings. The hypothesis to be explored is that current accounting practices are based on accounting at a building level and alternative methodologies are needed to capture the full impacts at a district level. To this end, we apply the current approaches on the ATELIER project's PED pilot in Buiksloterham, Amsterdam, which will serve as a case study to illustrate the differences in outcomes and in the use of the results in evaluation and policy making. Consequently, we reflect and recommend on improved approaches and methodologies.

Reference Williams, K., Heller, R., van Wees, M., & Vastenhout, T. (2022). Assessing the performance of Positive Energy Districts: The need for innovative methods. In IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science: SBE22Delft - Innovations for the Urban Energy Transition: Preparing for the European Renovation Wave 11/11/2022-13/11/2022 Delft, Netherlands (Vol. 1085, pp. 1-8). Article 012014 IOP Publishing Ltd..
Published by  Kenniscentrum Techniek 1 January 2022

Publication date

Jan 2022


Karen Williams
Thomas Vastenhout


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