Q&A with Prof. Ursula Eicker, Head of the CITYtrans network
“Our simulation tool helps urban planners optimise the energy performance of urban districts safely and easily all over the world.”
What does your CITYtrans network focus on?
The CITYtrans research network focuses on the performance of energetically sustainable, highly efficient urban districts and is conducting research into the development of a simulation tool that will help urban planners all over the world optimise specific urban development projects. Various scenarios for optimising energy performance can be simulated in 3D city models in order to identify building restoration options and ways in which the use of renewable energy can be developed. The network’s methods contribute to the development of strategies for CO2 reduction, firstly by significantly enhancing energy efficiency, and secondly by promoting the increased use of renewable energy in intelligent supply networks.
What does your network offer international urban planners?
The network’s German partners are highly experienced and have spent decades conducting successful research into how energy can be used more efficiently in urban development and how urban districts can be developed sustainably. They have succeeded in developing innovative simulation methods that are now used in large-scale urban demo projects. These allow them to make reliable, measurable statements on the performance of highly efficient urban districts and to recommend (in many cases also to implement) specific measures for achieving CO2 reduction targets, for example by purposefully using renewable energy. These projects involve a wide variety of stakeholders, i.e. not only scientists, but also planners and energy managers, people who are in charge of sustainable, resource-efficient development in municipalities and large industrial areas.
What synergies do you see for research partnerships between Germany and the USA?
We use 3D city models in CityGML, which is now becoming the international standard. This means we can simulate scenarios for optimising energy performance in any city in the world while identifying ways to reduce carbon emissions. This is also becoming the norm in the USA, which means that a joint research field is opening up. The results of application-oriented research projects clearly show that our methods consistently result in significantly improved energy efficiency. Functional examples tested in real life also yield data that is of interest for our American partners.
In return, the skills and research strategies employed by our American colleagues in the area of “Smart Cities” offer many points of contact for joint projects and fruitful synergies. They can for example provide detailed monitoring data from the building and energy supply sector that can be used for simulation purposes. Two of our Master’s degree students are working on the visualisation of various low carbon city scenarios for a district in Brooklyn with the assistance of partners in the USA who are providing us with detailed data sets. Moreover, our partners in New York have extensive experience of climate modelling, which they are already using to predict energy requirements in the city.
What can visitors to your booth at Smart Cities fairs and conferences expect to see?
Visitors can look forward to existing practical simulations of the performance of highly efficient infrastructures, pleasant discussions with us and an interesting invitation! We are using Simstadt simulation software to prepare practical examples for visitors to our stand. This urban simulation environment for the energy simulation of urban districts was developed at the HFT Stuttgart (Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences). A brochure explaining the network’s key research areas and including brief descriptions of reference projects is also being prepared. We are looking forward to meeting interesting partners who work in similar fields and are interested for example in participating in joint demo projects as real estate owners.
About Ursula Eicker:
Prof. Ursula Eicker is a German physicist, Head of the Institute of Applied Research, University of Applied Sciences, as well as Scientific Director of the Research Center for Sustainable Energy Technologies. She has been directing international research projects in the fields of energy efficiency in buildings and urban districts and sustainable energy supply systems for more than 20 years.