From the 26 – 27 June 2019, AREA 21 partners met in Hamburg for the next installment of project discussions, kicked off with a summery welcome harbor side dinner, in the urban renewal area of HafenCity.

On the first scheduled day of the meeting, project partners met together in the lush leafy grounds of Gut Karlshöhe; a sustainability education center in the heart of Wandsbek District, north of Hamburg. The center facilitates community programs to raise awareness of environmental protection and of technological innovations for water and energy efficiency. Exemplary system design showcased on site include the Hamburg Wasser closed loop water cycle, assisted by vacuum toilets and cleansing ponds, a multifunction energy reservoir, and the Transparent Energy House. The Energy House is a decentralized energy generator powered by technologies including solar panels and zeolite gas heat pumps. The Gut Karlshöhe center advocates the technologies to visitors through its open days, education programs and community markets.

The AREA 21 meeting commenced in the center’s serene setting, following opening words by Jörg Knieling from HafenCity University; the lead project partner. As an introduction to the meeting, a status of the project’s implementation was shared, along with the identification of common challenges and solutions experienced by partners in the formation of their Energy Improvement Districts (EIDs). To support mutual learning, the format of the meeting comprised a number of facilitated working group activities. One of the activities asked partners to identify solutions for challenges experienced in cooperative energy planning processes, these being legislative and or administrative; social; financial and, or technical aspects. A second activity was an exchange between partners on their progress for developing an EID strategy for peer feedback on inconsistencies or input for improvement. Brainstorming was a third activity, which sought to help partners with the translation of EID strategies into concrete measures.

The afternoon session of the meeting involved presentations and discussions by partners on the topics of ICT based participation tool development, project communication and dissemination activities. A further group work activity was facilitated to discuss ideas on a preliminary model for cooperation of stakeholders in energy planning, a model, that could support public authorities to establish cooperative planning processes in urban districts.

The second day of the meeting provided an insightful study visit of the renown IBA Hamburg (International Building Exhibition) in the city’s south. The IBA development project innovatively seeks to address pressing issues faced in modern cities through harnessing benefits of globalization, using knowledge and cultural resources and by creating high-quality urban districts. On the guided tour, climate responsive concepts and demonstration structures were explained including examples of Smart Material Houses and the Energy Bunker. The Bunker, a former world war air raid shelter, was converted into a power plant using renewable forms of energy. The structure’s heat reservoir now has the capacity to supply the Reiherstieg district with climate-friendly heat, whilst also feeding renewable power into the wider Hamburg distribution grid.

The Hamburg meeting reinforced understanding of project outcomes, and identified helpful solutions to challenges experienced by partners in their respective EIDs. Partners will be working to make their EID strategies more concrete, and integrating enriching feedback shared by their peers, in preparation for the eagerly awaited St. Petersburg meeting in coming months – stay tuned.