Developing a spatial- and technology - policy to provide domestic comfort to the urban inhabitants of North Western Europe
Delft University of Technology, Dept. of Technology, Policy & Management, Technology dynamics and Sustainable Development, Jaffalaan 5, NL2628BX Delft, The Netherlands, k.f.mulder@tbm.tudelft.nl


Cities are warmer than the surrounding rural areas. This difference in temperature is largest under sunny conditions, and especially in the evening. At maximum, the difference is about 6 0C (10 0F). Higher temperatures cause increased mortality rates, hospitalization, decreased labor productivity and less feeling of well being. However, in winter, this ‘urban heat island effect’ keeps cities warmer and therefore saves energy. Recently, Europe has been suffering from unusually hot summers. Traditionally, buildings in Middle and Northern Europe were not air-conditioned. However, as a result of the hot summer, air-conditioning sales is growing rapidly. The central issue of this paper is to search for promising options that could prevent a strong increase in electricity consumption for air-conditioning in Northern and Middle European cities.

The problem

During the last six years, six heat waves were recorded in the Netherlands. This is remarkable as there were only 38 heat waves in 105 years of heat wave recording the KNMI [1]. In all North Western Europe, summers have been extremely warm. The number of victims is hard to estimate as these heat waves coincide with high smog and fine dust levels. [2]

City authorities take measures. Public health authorities started information campaigns to warn vulnerable groups such as elderly, children, patients, etc.

However, sales of air conditioners are sky rocketing. It is relatively cheap and effective for the individual. However, it will increase CO2 emissions and local heat production

The construction sector has long been focused on conservation of heat. Many buildings and blocks have been constructed having passive solar energy in mind. Therefore, we should not just introduce efficient cooling technologies, but also rethink urban planning and the energy requirements for buildings.


The paper will analyze various options that might lower temperatures in the city or in buildings:

Intelligent management of buildings



City Planning


Converting solar radiation to useful energy thereby lowering the influx

Air-conditioning and cooling by solar heat

Air-conditioning and cooling by using waste heat, evt. In combination with solar heat

The paper will make an assessment of these options based on their effectiveness, environmental impact and costs. It identifies technologies that should be further improved such as absorption cooling.

Finally, it will sketch concrete opportunities for city planners and companies to provide comfort to citizens, in such a way that energy consumption and CO2 emissions will be reduced.


[1]        http://www.knmi.nl/klimatologie/lijsten/hittegolven.html (December 19th, 2006)

[2]        Stedman JR., 2004, The predicted number of air pollution related deaths in the UK during the August 2003 heat wave, Atmospheric Environment 38, pp 1087-1090.

Full Paper (.ppt format, 541.0 kb)

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8:00 AM-8:00 PM, Friday, June 15, 2007, Oral

The Ontario, Canada 2007 Meeting