Growing exponentially in the urban area vernacular, we have recently witnessed the same word pop up more often than not: ‘Smart’ buildings and cities. It seems to be the new hype since urban planners across the world are combining technology, big data, and urban living spaces to solve the greatest bottlenecks of our modern cities. Cities struggle with a growing population which causes a decline in the standard of living, increased pollution, traffic jams, etc. In the light of the above, we will mainly focus on the sustainability aspect of these new smart cities and buildings.
First of all, what exactly is a smart building? A prime example is ‘The Edge’. At the end of 2017, the world’s greenest building was opened in Amsterdam, called ‘The Edge’; home to one of the big four firms. This building set a whole new standard for what green smart buildings ought to be and re-defined energy transition in the Amsterdam corporate space. This building is everything one could wish for, and more.
Because of its unique and flexible workplaces, lesser space is needed and ergo, lesser energy is consumed. On top of that, the newly developed LED system by Phillips that connects light through ethernet cables consumes much less energy than normal lighting would and the building is covered in solar panels. Furthermore, the employees are encouraged the use electric cars that can be charged with solar energy. Of course, with relevant infrastructure for these charging ports already in place.
That is not the only smart buildings that the Netherlands has churned out. Last year, Helmond, a city linked with the Dutch Brainport Eindhoven, announced (link in Dutch) that they will build the first smart neighbourhood of the Netherlands, the Brainport Village. This will be done in affiliation with the Technical University of Eindhoven (TU/e). Within this smart neighbourhood, sustainability will be at the very core, acting as a living lab for future sustainable technologies. This neighbourhood will be completely self-sufficient in their energy needs as well as reduce the amount of energy needed through sharing and smart street lights.
So where is The Hague in this narrative? Since 2015, the city of The Hague has been making plans to become a so-called ‘Smart City’. Last year, they even published a long-term strategy towards becoming a full-blown smart city, however, they are not giving sustainability enough attention. Until recently. In the final weeks of 2017 the city council of The Hague announced that they will cover their ADO football stadium with solar panels to power the match and charge people’s electric cars. This is in line with the city’s goal (link in Dutch) to go through a full energy transition and be self-sufficient regarding their energy needs.
The Hague is not yet on the level of ‘The Edge’ nor making plans to build places such as the Brainport Village. The city is making small steps towards full energy transition in a different way than the rest is. Instead of focussing on the ‘smart’ aspect of things, The Hague has smaller plans on the agenda, such as the solar panels on the football stadium, to realise their bigger goal: climate neutral 2040. Only time will tell which city will be most successful in their energy transition.