Urban energy systems -Towards more sustainable city and neighborhood design by Prof. Christoph Reinhart

Location and Date: 
Friday, December 4, 2015, 3:30 pm, LC 001


The United Nations estimates that the number of city-dwellers worldwide will grow until 2030 at a net rate of about two million per week. If this unprecedented urban growth continues to be largely ad hoc via informal settlements, sprawl and haphazard densification, global and local consequences for the environment, the economy and the mere quality of life of billions could be severe. Policy measures at the international and national level as well as technical advances can support positive change but the immediate implementation of sustainable infrastructure measures mostly happens at the municipal, neighborhood and campus level. City governments world-wide have adopted ambitious long-term GHG emission reduction targets and are exploring a plethora of measures from building energy audits and retrofits to the accelerated deployment of renewable energy, district heating and cooling, as well as combined heat and power systems. However, to understand the combined effect of such interrelated actions, decision makers require planning tools that provide spatially and temporally resolved energy demands data for all buildings, and that facilitate the evaluation of “what if” scenarios to prioritize alternative interventions. This presentation describes a series of interrelated research projects and case studies by the Sustainable Design Lab at MIT that demonstrate our evolving ability to reliably evaluate multiple dimensions of urban performance from operational and embodied energy to daylighting and walkability.

About the Speaker

Christoph Reinhart is a building scientist, architectural educator and software entrepreneur working in the field of sustainable building design and environmental modeling. At MIT he is leading the Sustainable Design Lab, an inter-disciplinary group with a grounding in architecture that develops design workflows, planning tools and metrics to evaluate the environmental performance of buildings and neighborhoods. Products originating from the group – such as DIVA, Mapdwell, DAYSIM and umi– are used in practice and education in over 90 countries.