The derelict school in Újpest, that will become social housing , Source: City of Budapest

Budapest outlines its first energy-positive district

Budapest outlines its first energy-positive district

Sometimes it is more useful to think of larger urban units than buildings for creating more sustainable cities

Last week, the authorities in Budapest announced a new project to convert the city’s Újpest district into a neighbourhood with a positive energy balance. City officials have pointed out that the project is inspired by their counterparts in Amsterdam and Lyon, which are both working on positive energy balance districts.

Plans for Újpest

According to an official statement by the city, the positive energy balance district in Újpest will be centred around the crossroads of Megyeri út and Fóti út. It would also include the Megyeri út cemetery, the Béla utca nursing home and the Eszka-Pest Wastewater Treatment Plant further south.

Additionally, a derelict school on the crossroad will be turned into a social rental housing with municipal services on the ground floor. Also, the local public school and church will also join the project. Moreover, the city is looking into adding sustainable mobility options with Budapest’s public transport service BKK.

What is a positive energy balance district?

Orsolya Fülöp, Sustainable Cities Expert at the municipality, was quoted in a press statement explaining the benefits of energy balance on a larger scale. He pointed out that thinking of districts and neighbourhoods as energy units, rather than individual buildings, opens up a host of possibilities for urban planners to increase local urban energy production.

For example, a particularly high apartment building may not have enough roof space to fit all the solar panels it needs to be climate neutral, but the neighbouring could have a parking lot, perfect for scaffolding-mounted photovoltaics, that can make a big dent in the local energy balance.

Additionally, according to Fülöp, there is no consistent EU-wide definition of a positive energy balance district. This is why he pointed out, there are varying practices from country to country and region to region, as authorities try to implement sustainable policies while keeping in mind what is appropriate.

For Budapest, this means a combination of urban solutions, including locally produced energy from renewable sources. It also means no additional energy ‘imports’ in the district and a surplus of energy produced compared to consumption.



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