Task 63
Task 63
SHC Task 63

Solar Neighborhood Planning

Project (Task) Description

A large portion of the potential for energy efficiency in existing buildings and the potential to utilize solar energy still remains unused. Globally, goals and specific targets are set up to reduce our environmental impact on climate and to secure future supply of energy. A combination of making buildings more energy-efficient – through refurbishment interventions and new developments – and increasing the use of renewable energy sources (RES) is therefore a key issue to reduce fossil energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, towards a low carbon energy transition. An increased use of solar energy is one of the important development paths, where the urban fabric needs to utilize passive solar gains and daylight to reduce the energy use in buildings, as well as to improve the inhabitants’ comfort in indoor and outdoor areas. In addition, active solar energy systems integrated in the urban context contribute to the production of renewable energy as heat and electricity. All these strategies help cities and citizens in reaching sustainable developments.

Solar neighborhoods are increasingly important to achieve net zero energy districts and low carbon cities. The planning of neighborhoods that address the generation of renewable energy on site will enable solar thermal technologies and photovoltaics to be implemented or prepared for, as well as creating daylight and sunlight access to achieve healthier urban environments. Solar neighborhoods also create environments which are energy (resource) self-sufficient and resilient to energy price fluctuations or reliance on energy imports – helping future-proof towns and cities.

In this Task, a neighborhood is defined as a group of buildings, a district/precinct. It is a spatially defined, specific geographic area, often including different types of buildings and functions, open space and infrastructure.

A neighborhood can be part of a larger city or a smaller village. It can be part of an urban area, a rural development, or represent an isolated community. Further, it can be connected to a district heating/cooling network or outside such, giving very different boundary condition challenges.


The scope of the Task includes solar energy issues related to

  1. New neighborhood development
  2. Existing neighborhood renovation and development

Solar energy aspects include active solar systems (solar thermal and photovoltaics) and passive strategies. Passive solar strategies include passive solar heating and cooling, daylighting, and thermal/visual comfort in indoor and outdoor environments.

Making smart use of building surfaces as well as of open public areas/surfaces within neighborhoods is an important challenge, which may rise conflicts between competing uses of solar energy (e.g. daylight versus energy production) but also conflicts in using other solutions such as green façades/roofs. In addition, synergies are important to identify, for instance, different building functions within the neighborhood with different energy load profiles. Although the focus of the Task will be on solar energy aspects, these need to be dealt with in relation to other competing or synergetic goals. The role of solar issues related to energy, environment, economy and inhabitants’ comfort and health is in focus.

Neighborhoods within district heating networks as well as outside will be considered. The deployment of district networks is becoming more frequent. A district heating network, supplying space heating and domestic hot water, gives rise to different barriers and energy strategies than in neighborhoods outside such networks. Therefore, concepts and strategies will be different and interesting to study.

Since renewable energy production often causes an uneven production over time, storages have become more important. Therefore, thermal and electrical storages as part of the energy system and of the concepts for solar neighborhoods will be considered in this Task. Task 63 will explore different energy and environmental concepts for neighborhoods.

The results from SHC Task 51 underlined the need of further work on a neighborhood scale, especially looking at solar planning strategies and concepts, economic strategies and stakeholder engagement. In addition, solar planning tools and their coupling in an efficient workflow (i.e. co-simulation approach) are becoming more and more important due to an increasing need of decision support tools in the early planning phases. Solar planning tools would be mainly implied for assessing active solar potential, daylighting, thermal and visual comfort, as well as other architectural issues.