A large portion of the potential for energy efficiency in existing buildings and potential to utilize solar energy still remains unused. Globally, goals and specific targets are set up to reduce our environmental impact on climate and secure future supply of energy. The built environment accounts for over 40% of the world’s total primary energy use and 24% of greenhouse gas emissions. A combination of making buildings (refurbishing and new developments) more energy-efficient and using a larger fraction of renewable energy is therefore a key issue to reduce the non-renewable energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Political statements and directives are already moving towards zero-energy buildings, communities and whole cities. An increased use of solar energy is one important part of the development ahead, where the urban fabric needs to utilize passive solar gains and daylight to reduce the energy use in buildings and for lighting outdoor environments, as well as to improve the inhabitants’ comfort indoors and in urban outdoor areas. Also, active solar energy systems integrated in the urban context will enable a supply of renewable energy primarily as heat and electricity, but also of solar cooling, helping cities reach sustainable solutions.
National and regional policy formation and strategies striving at a minimized environmental impact will set the context in which urban planners develop plans for urban areas. These plans should then be implemented by developers working with architects and builders to create buildings and environments that meet the needs of residents. When new areas are planned, buildings could be oriented in a favourable way and be prepared for integration of solar systems even if not all buildings will integrate them from the start. As important is the integration of solar energy strategies (active and passive) in the existing urban areas. The goal to integrate solar systems in already urbanized and built areas is challenging and there is a need to identify methods and tools to support the use of solar energy in existing buildings. Strategies for both new developments and existing areas will therefore be dealt with in this Task.
Buildings and urban planning have a long time horizon; solar energy planning will increase the potential of using solar energy for a long time ahead while the lack of taking solar access into planning will instead become a barrier for maybe a hundred years ahead. Research and development within this subject is therefore urgent and of great importance.