Sustainable energy landscapes: The power of imagination

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Resource depletion and climate change motivate a transition to sustainable energy systems that make effective use of renewable sources. Sustainable energy transition necessitates a transformation of large parts of the existing built environment and presents one of the great challenges of present-day environmental designers. Energy transition is not limited to the generation of renewable energy, but also entails a reduction of energy demand. Energy-conscious environmental design, as envisioned in this chapter, aims at increasing renewable energy generation while at the same time reducing energy demand. The physical reality that results from such a sustainable approach to energy transition is referred to as sustainable energy landscape – a landscape that is well adapted to renewable energy sources without compromising other landscape services, landscape quality, or biodiversity. Natural ecosystems overcome resource scarcity and improve renewable energy flows; they can therefore serve as source of inspiration for energy-conscious environmental design. In this book chapter we identify and discuss ecological concepts with relevance to the design of sustainable energy landscapes. Thermodynamics presents another valuable source of inspiration to environmental designers. All energy flows on earth are governed by the Laws of Thermodynamics. While the First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy is always conserved, the Second Law states that during any process, exergy (work capacity) is destroyed and entropy (disorder) produced. Cities and landscapes that are designed disregarding the Laws of Thermodynamics will continue to depend on excessive amounts of fossil fuels and cannot be considered sustainable. In this chapter, theoretical concepts and energy-conscious principles are illustrated by means of propositional design for several (urban and rural) landscapes in the Netherlands.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEcological Urban Architecture
EditorsT. Schröpfer
Number of pages207
ISBN (Print)9783034608008
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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