Editors Note

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The Sustainable Places conference brings together the brightest minds in Europe each year to talk about how we can improve our built environments. Sustainability targets and climate change objectives cannot be met without addressing buildings, so we need to think about designing, building and retrofitting the places in which we live and work in a more sustainable way. We at Insight Media are excited to be attending the event for the first time this year in Cagliari, Italy, and we hope to speak to many of you over the course of the three days.

This edition of Projects is all about energy which, as you will discover as you read through the publication, is a broad topic of conversation. On one side of the room we have projects such as DryFiciency (page 12), which uses heat pumps to turn industrial waste heat into high temperature streams that can then be used for industrial drying. This helps to improve energy efficiency and reduces reliance on fossil fuels. Then, on a completely different note, we have projects like VIRT-EU (page 36), which is creating tools to help Internet of Things developers (who make up a large part of the Smart Home ecosystem) bring ethics into their conversations.

There is a consensus among experts that the quality of our built environment has a positive impact on the quality of our lives. But are modern urban planning and badly-designed buildings tipping the balance of quality the wrong way? Georg Pendl, president of the Architects’ Council of Europe (page 32), is optimistic about our future, particularly if architects are able to play a more central and holistic role in planning.

Europe’s building stock is old and inefficient, which is bad for energy targets and detrimental to mortgage portfolios. In a bid to make radical changes, the Energy Efficient Mortgages Action Plan (page 30) aims to create, with the support of all stakeholders, a standardised energy-efficient mortgage as a significant economic incentive to transform the damaging risks from inefficient buildings into a rewarding, low carbon-built environment. 

Tim Rotheray is the Director of the Association for Decentralised Energy, a leading trade association that works with industry, the government and energy providers towards an efficient and low-carbon energy system. We spoke to him about the increasingly important role of demand response and aggregators, and how he expects the entire energy ecosystem to evolve over the coming decades. Read the full interview on page 52.

Finally, included in this edition are two EU projects that Insight Media (publishers of Projects) are partners in. Sim4Blocks (page 23) is developing innovative demand response services for residential and commercial applications at the blocks-of-buildings scale, while Rehap (page 15) is creating new materials from agricultural and forestry waste for the green building sector. We have been working alongside these researchers for a number of years now, and it has been fantastic to see results being published after all of the hard work from everyone involved. 

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