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Designing sustainable energy landscapes

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Designing sustainable energy landscapes
Article · January 2007
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Sven Stremke
Wageningen University & Research
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ReEnergize South Limburg
Landscape Architecture Chairgroup, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands
Designing Sustainable Energy Landscapes
Published by
Landscape Architecture Chairgroup
Wageningen University and Research
Droevendaalsesteeg 3
6708 BP, Wageningen
The Netherlands
Request of additional copies via Sven Stremke,
Wageningen University: [email protected]
© 2007 Landscape Architecture Chairgroup
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any
manner without written permission from the publisher.
Editors: Rudi van Etteger and Sven Stremke
Book Designer: Martijn T. Slob and Sven Stremke
Specials thanks to all students participating in the Regional
Atelier 2007 ReEnergize South Limburg
This book is part of the SREX research project, commissioned by Senter Novem, the Netherlands
Photo credits: All photos were taken by the students, unless
Cover page photograph by Josie Ding, WUR
ReEnergize South Limburg
Designing Sustainable Energy Landscapes
Landscape Architecture Chairgroup, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands
Students: Claire Oude Aarninkhof Wageningen University and Research Arjan Boekel
Wageningen University and Research Nejc Florjanc Wageningen University and Research/
University of Ljubljana Pieter Foré Wageningen University and Research María Galdón
Wageningen University and Research/British Columbia University Kees Neven Wageningen
University and Research Bas van de Sande Wageningen University and Research Martijn
T. Slob Wageningen University and Research Tijmen van Straten Wageningen University
and Research
Faculty: Rudi van Etteger Landscape Architecture Chairgroup Jusuck Koh Chairholder
Landscape Architecture Program Sven Stremke Landscape Architecture Chairgroup (all Wageningen University and Research)
Contributors: Rob Bakker Biobased Products/WUR Sjaak Dehing BAT/Sittard Elianne Demollin Mijnwater Project/Municipality of Heerlen Wolfgang Deuster Landscape Planer/
Aachen Andy van den Dobbelsteen Architect/TuDelft Pierre Grooten IKL/ Roermond
Gerdo van Grootheest Municipality of Heerlen Leo Gommans Architect/TuDelft Monique
Jansen Landscape Architecture Chairgroup WUR Harro de Jong Landscape Architecture
Chairgroup WUR Jos Rikers Regional Centre of Expertise Rhine-Meuse Ronald Rovers Urban Environment Group/WUR Henk Schmitz IKL/Roermond René Seijben Avantis European Science and Business Park Frank Stroeken Royalhaskoning/Nijmegen Roel Meertens
Urban Planer/Municipality of Heerlen
Designing Sustainable Energy Landscapes
Working in the Atelier Format
Refl ections on the Regional Atelier 2007
South Limburg in Focus
Regional Analysis
Vitalizing Maasvalley
Merging Movement
Leisure Energy
Diversifying Fields
Energetic Parkstad
Opening and Bridging
Frontside Parkstad
Schaesberg Balanced
Heuvelland: Story of Energy
Banholt: A Rural Energy Village
Lower Geulvalley
Upper Geulvalley
Sven Stremke M.A.
ir. Rudi van Etteger
Prof. Dr. Jusuck Koh
Sven Stremke M.A.
Group one
Group two
Group three
María Galdón
Martijn T. Slob
Claire Oude Aarninkhof
Pieter Foré
Nejc Florjanc
Arjan Boekel
Kees Neven
Tijmen van Straten
Bas van de Sande
ir. Rudi van Etteger + Sven Stremke M.A.
(I) Climate change and energy shortage require a new paradigm which
will replace existing spatial design principles.
(II) The landscape approach interconnects process thinking with spatial
thinking and is therefore capable to guide the design of more sustainable
energy landscapes.
6 ReEnergizeSL | introduction
designing sustainable energy landscapes | Sven Stremke 7
Designing Sustainable Energy Landscapes
This paper intends to discuss some of the spatial opportunities
and consequences of a sustainable energy transition in relation to
climate change and depletion of fossil-fuels. At the same time, it
provides a broad overview of issues and challenges at hand whilst
designing sustainable energy landscapes on a regional scale.
The challenge is clear; carbon dioxide emissions must be minimized and remaining fossil-fuel reserves sustained as long as possible. Such fundamental paradigm change does, of course, not only
involve professionals dealing with large-scale spatial design. However, the imperative transition from natural gas, crude oil and coal
towards renewable resources bears great opportunities for professionals concerned with both natural science and artistic imagination. All too often, architects and designers are faced with the fact
that aesthetic needs – one of the traditional key concerns of our
professions – rank well behind a number of ‘basic needs’. This has
been described in the so-called ‘pyramid of needs’. American psychologist Abraham Maslow states, that psychological needs, safety,
social needs and the need for esteem must be fulfi lled before
humans begin to appreciate beauty.1 We believe that sustainable
thinking, including the here discussed energy transition, must become an imperative factor while designing the human environment.
In doing so, the professions dealing with spatial design can remain
relevant and take responsibility for places elsewhere and for future
generations. In the following chapter, we will describe some of the
manifold connections between energy as a prerequisite of life on
earth and the environment as the focus of our studies. Because energy harvest, storage and consumption manifest themselves in the
environment, we believe that energy-conscious spatial design can
facilitate the transition towards more sustainable use of resources.
Problem Statement
Today, the Netherlands depend to 60 percent on the import of
energy; more than 95 percent of the total energy provision is
based on fossil-fuel resources and therefore emits vast amounts
of greenhouse gases. An average Dutch family consumes more
than 20.000kg of oil equivalents – that is one tanker – for heating, shelter, food production and transportation. Currently, the per
capita energy consumption ranks among the highest in the world.2
This situation is unsustainable both in economical as well as ecological terms. Obviously, energy can be imported to accommodate
the increasing demand. However, import of energy does increase
the dependency on foreign economies. Above all, a wide range of
scientifi c studies has revealed a signifi cant correlation between the
excessive consumption of fossil-fuels and global warming, leading
to changing climate and rising sea levels.
Energy Production
As of 2005, a mere fraction of 2.4 percent of the Dutch energy
supply is generated by domestic renewable energy sources.3 Despite the small proportion of renewables in the Dutch energy market, the so-called groene stroom has gained unexpected popularity
since its introduction in 1995.4 To meet the increasing demand,
energy providers are currently importing renewable electricity from
abroad. The vast majority of energy, however, is provided on the
basis of fossil-fuels, mainly natural gas and crude oil resulting in a
relatively high per-capita-emission of greenhouse gases compared
with our European neighbours.5 Estimating energy demand in the
future is not an easy task. Dutch scientists have calculated that
the total energy consumption – in the best case scenario – can be
reduced between one and two percent per year.6 A second important parameter is the expected growth or decline of the population,
which, ultimately impacts the total energy consumption of the
Ref.1: Maslow, A. H. (1958). A Dynamic Theory of Human Motivation.
In: Understanding human motivation. C. Stacey and M. DeMartino
(Ed). Cleveland, OH: Howard Allen
Publishers: 26-47.
Ref.2: CBS (2003). Energie en water.
Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek.
Ref.3: CBS (2005). Energie en water.
Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek.
note 4: Note: Goene stroom is
electricity based on renewable
Ref.5: Globalis (2003). Greenhouse
Gas Emissions per Capita. Global
Virtual University.
Ref.6: Task-Force-Energietransitie
(2006). Transitieactieplan Meer met
Energie Task Force Energietransitie.
Designers, architects and planners must begin to anticipate the far reaching changes we are facing in connection with climate change.
What if we take action and actively participate in the transition from fossil-fuel driven society towards a more sustainable society?
nation. Verifying energy demand is not the intention of the present study. However, these predictions will have an important role
in setting future goals. Specifi c information on the current energy
consumption and population development in the case-study region
of South Limburg can be found in the following chapters.
Legislation: EU and the Netherlands
In connection with the increasing awareness of global warming and
rising sea levels, a number of initiatives related to sustainability
culminated in the adoption of binding directives in the European
Union. Among them is the EU Directive 2001/77/EC, which determines that at least 12 percent of the gross national energy has
to be based on renewable resources. Furthermore, the EU Directive 2003/30/EC requires 5.75 percent of all fuels to be biofuels.
Both directives have to be implemented in 2010.1 + 2 In spring 2007
European leaders have set even higher targets and committed to
sign binding directives for 20% renewable energy and 20% energy
savings by 2020. In the Netherlands, the national targets have
been specifi ed in the so-called transition plan. The Dutch government strives for a two percent reduction of the overall energy
consumption per year. Additionally, it intends to replace 30% of
conventional energy production with biomass production, reducing
the country’s overall CO2 emission by 50%.3
United Nations: Energy Program
The interrelation between excessive energy consumption and
environment was, for the fi rst time, offi cially acknowledged during
the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
in Rio de Janeiro (1992). Three key program areas were identifi ed
to mitigate the imminent climate change. (1) Energy transition, (2)
Energy effi ciency and (3) Renewable energy sources.4 These three
objectives represent the starting point of our studies with the goal
of rendering pathways for energy autarkic regions in the Netherlands. The following chapters will emphasize the relevance of ecological concepts to the designer of sustainable energy landscapes.
Energy: From Past to Present
One can identify two periods of rapid population growth tied to
energy procurement. With the development of agriculture, the
amount of food and fi bers that could be provided by a given area
increased. Two centuries ago, the industrial revolution initiated the
second rapid increase in world population. Industrialization was
driven by fossil-fuel powered machinery.5 The number of humans
on planet Earth has, to some extend, increased due the abundant
access to fossil-fuels. Reciprocally, rising populations are demanding more and more energy to build and maintain the artifi cial environments. The earliest known mean to prepare food was a simple
wood-burning fi re. Later, wood was supplemented by charcoal and
peat to heat human shelters during the cold periods of the year.
The excessive extraction of peat along with massive de-forestation
created a new situation with competition between different landuses. The discovery of lignite and black coal provided sought after
alternatives. Only from the 19th century on, crude oil and natural
gas were extracted from the deeper layers of the subsoil. Essentially, one may assign each resource to a horizontal layer whereas,
throughout the past centuries, humans not only gained access
to gas and oil stored in deeper layers but also industrialized the
extraction process as such, leading to an ever increasing amount
of carbon dioxide discharged into the planets atmosphere after
combustion of these resources.
natural gas and crude oil
Earth surface
CO2 emissions
Energy source
geothermal heat
solar, wind,
water and
Ref.1: Directive 2001/77/EC of the
European Parliament and of the
Council on the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources in
the internal electricity market.
Ref.2: Directive 2003/30/EC of the
European Parliament and the Council
on the promotion of the use of
biofuels or other renewable fuels for
Ref.3: Task-Force-Energietransitie
(2006). Transitieactieplan Meer met
Energie Task Force Energietransitie.
Ref.4: Strong, M. F. (1992). “Energy,
environment and development.”
Energy policy 20(6): 490-494.
Ref.5: Odum, E. P. Ecology and our
endangered life-support systems.
Sunderland, Mass.: Sinauer Associates.
[Ill.1] Horizontal zoning of energy
sources correlating with emission of
carbon dioxides.
8 ReEnergizeSL | introduction
Energy Procurement as Land-use
Although are aware of the stress that our lifestyle places on the
environment, we have, only recently, begun to reconsider the excessive use of fossil-fuels. The exploitation of earth’s savings (e.g.
non-renewable energy resources) has resulted in a cost transfer
to the environment (entropy) and to future generations (resource
scarcity and pollution). The relatively inexpensive access to fossil-fuels even suppressed already existing renewable technologies based on wind and water. Instead, an anthropogenic, largescale transformation of what were until then natural landscapes
took place. Most of today’s landscapes in the Netherlands can be
depicted as ‘fossil fuel’ or ‘industrialized’ landscapes with high
energy input and high entropy output for food and fi ber production,
landscape maintenance and repair. Often, we refer to our environment as cultural or recreational landscape; yet, most of them are
simply energy landscapes. We fi nd not only traces of resource
extraction but most of all, and far more visible, traces of excessive
energy consumption; for instance, highways, high-voltage power
lines and monocultures to name only a few omnipresent elements
in the landscape of the 21st century. It is important to have a critical look at the landscape we are living in today before we can start
negotiating about one or the other renewable technology and the
consequences attached to them. Discussing a sustainable energy
transition is, above all, balancing energy procurement with other
land-uses, such as the provision of food, waste treatment, preservation of biodiversity and housing. Landscape architects, among
others, are invited to study available technologies, to weight their
impact on the landscape and fi nally, to render pathways towards a
more sustainable human environment.
Energy and Ecology
Ecology is the study of relationships. To investigate the relations
between human energy systems and the environment represents
in this sense, a study of human ecological systems. The quest for
a more sustainable interaction with our environment motivates the
present study on energy economy at the regional scale. Again, the
challenge is clear, but how can we draw alternatives to the existing
systems? It is understood, that ecology constitutes one of the most
relevant natural sciences guiding the path towards more sustainable society. Ecology is relevant not just because it is a science
that deals with the environment, energy and resources, but also
because of its integrative and regenerative approach, refl ected in a
focus on ‘system thinking’ and ‘process ordering.’ Due to the long
process of evolution, nature has produced very effi cient processes
integrating energy fl ows and material cycles. Because ecological systems are self-organizing and intelligent systems, the very
processes that take place in an ecosystem may offer a blueprint for
more sustainable human environment.6 A number of recent studies
on the laws of thermodynamics have described energy in general
and exergy in particular as the keystones of sustainable development.7+8 The fi rst law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot
be created or destroyed; energy can only be transformed from one
state to another. It represents one of the premises of our studies.
However, given the fi niteness of global resources and the environmental consequences of excessive energy consumption, it is
suggested to take the second law of thermodynamics into account.9
This is because the second law relates not only to the quantity of
energy but also to its quality, the so-called exergy. Exergy is the
maximum amount of work a system can perform when it is brought
to thermodynamic equilibrium with its environment.10 Intriguing to
the spatial designer is that large amounts of exergy are lost during
each transformation of energy, for instance, from coal to steam
and then to electricity. The term exergy outlines the opportunities
that lie within energy cascading. A number of promising new ideas
emerged in the fi eld of industrial ecology; we now require clear
spatial design principles to be applied on the large-scale. The built
environment of the future is then, not only shaped by traditional
spatial planning principles but also by the availability of renewable
energy sources and transformation processes present in the region.
But let us fi rst return to the human ecological system.
Natural and Built Environment
It is important to emphasize that ecological studies have revealed
the manifold interrelations between humans and the environment.
Ref.6: Koh, J. (2005). The Energetic
Strategy of Ecosystem Development
and Urban/Regional Spatial Restructuring and Regeneration. Grounds
for Change: Bridging Energy Planning and Spatial Design Strategies.
F. v. Dam and K. J. Noorman (Ed).
Groningen: Grounds for Change:
Ref.7: Cornelissen, R. L. (1997).
Thermodynamics and sustainable
development: The use of exergy
analysis and the reduction of irreversibility Enschede: Department of
Mechanical Engineering, University
of Twente.
Ref.8: Dincer, I. (2000). “Thermodynamics, Exergy and Environmental Impact.” Energy Sources 22:
Note 9: The second law of thermodynamics states that during each
transformation of energy from one
state to another, energy is “lost” and
turned into entropy. Entropy is the
part of low-quality energy that can
not be used anymore.
Ref.10: Ludovisi, A., P. Pandalfi , et
al. (2005). “The Strategy of Ecosystem Development: Specifi c Dissipation as an Indicator of Ecosystem
Maturity.” Journal of theoretical
biology 235: 33-43.
general reference for ‘Energy Procurement as Land-use’
Reference: MacHarg, I. L. (1969).
Design with nature. New York: Natural History Press.
Reference: Twidell, J. and A. D. Weir
(2006). Renewable energy resources. London [etc.]: Taylor & Francis.
designing sustainable energy landscapes | Sven Stremke 9
In fact, system ecologists have helped to clarify the complexity of processes we have established ourselves within the built
environment. Both, landscape and system ecology form a base,
from where we can begin improving energy systems on a regional
scale. Borrowing from the studies of Carl Steinitz, we can display
the similarities between the city, as a human built system, and the
environment, as its natural counterpart. He compares the conceptual frameworks of the built world by Kevin Lynch and ecosystems
by Richard Foreman. Lynch’s system of paths, edges, districts,
nodes and landmarks for understanding cities has much in common
with the landscape ecology’s system of patch, matrix, and corridor
as used by Forman and others. Moreover, Steinitz suggests that
this similarity underscores the possibilities for joint theory among
designers and ecologists which, in turn advocates for the introduction of ecological concepts to the present study focusing on spatial
design on a regional scale.1
Ecological Concepts
Since the dawn of the twentieth century ecologists have attempted
to defi ne the discipline’s key concepts based on long-term ecological studies. In perhaps the most extensive survey, the British
Ecological Society asked all members to rank “their” concepts from
a list of fi fty critical concepts.2 This list formed the basis and was
later expanded by a number of more recently identifi ed ecological concepts.3+4+5+6+7 Subsequently, each concept has been evalu- ated for its signifi cance to the present study on energy effi ciency at regional scale. Eventually, twenty-seven ecological concepts have been selected and described in-depth. With the help of these concepts, we can connect process thinking (e.g. exergy approach) with spatial design (e.g. energy cascading). The table below states all selected 27 concepts; some of them are closely related to each other and therefore grouped together. During the course of the Regional Atelier 2007, the present ecological concepts have been presented to the participants and discussed extensively. They form a comprehensive but not inclusive foundation for our future stud- ies, a point of origin from where we can derive design principles for more sustainable energy landscapes. Fundamental Ecological Concepts – Open system theory – Life-history adaptation and natural selection – Human ecology and parasite-host model Concepts related to Regional Scale – Hierarchical organization – Concept of the biome – Landscape and landscape memory Concepts related to Energy/Exergy – Source-sink concept – Ecosystem autonomy – Body-size and climate space – Differentiation of niches – Biorhythm (also called periodicity) – Mutualism/cooperation/symbiosis – Earth-heat balance and energy fl ow – Concept of primary production – Material cycling and decomposition – Natural disturbance and ecological succession – Carrying capacity and ecological footprint analysis – Species diversity and landscape heterogeneity [Ill.1] Ref.1: Carl Steinitz (2002) In: Johnson, B. and K. Hill, (Eds). Ecology and design: Frameworks for learning. Wash- ington, DC: Island Press. [Ill.1] Similarities between Lynch’s city elements and Forman’s list of landscape elements. Idea based on Carl Steinitz. Ref.2 Cherrett, J. M. (1988). “Ecologi- cal concepts: A survey of the views of the members of the British Ecological Society.” Biologist 35: 64-66. Ref.3: Odum, E. P. (1992). “Great Ideas in Ecology for the 1990s “ BioScience 42(7): 542-545. Ref.4: Forman, R. T. T. J. (1995). Land mosaics : the ecology of landscapes and regions. Cambridge: Cambridge Univer- sity Press. Ref.5: Golley, F. O. (1996). Ecological Concepts, with Implications to Environ- mentalism and Ethics. Athens, GA: Insti- tute of Ecology, University of Georgia. Ref.6: Farina, A. (1998). Principles and methods in landscape ecology. London and New York: Chapman & Hall. Ref.7: Johnson, B. and K. Hill, Eds. (2002). Ecology and design: Frameworks for learning. Washington, DC: Island Press. General reference for ‘nature and built environment’ Reference: Dramstad, W. E., J. D. Olson, et al. (1996). Landscape ecology principles in landscape architecture and land-use planning. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Island Press. Reference: Johnson, B. and K. Hill, Eds. (2002). Ecology and design: Frameworks for learning. Washington, DC: Island Press. Reference: Makhzoumi, J. and G. Pun- getti (1999). Ecological landscape design and planning: The Mediterranean con- text. London & New York: E & FN Spon.
10 ReEnergizeSL | introduction
The Region as Ecological System
Commonly, the interacting complex of organism and environment
is identifi ed as an ecological system or ecosystem. The term system refers to an object which is made up of subsystems or components that interact together. Depending on the focus of study,
scientists identify the most appropriate scale and describe the
chosen ecological system. Consequently, an ecosystem is defi ned
as a more or less bounded object made of living organism and
environmental components and processes which interact together
to make a unity.8 Each ecosystem is, in some respect, distinct from
the surrounding systems. For the present study, the prime interest
lies on the regional scale; the arguments are as following:
(1) Material cycles: At the regional scale, most material cycles can
be closed as we have access to suffi cient resources, an appropriate number of consumers and the technologies needed to recycle
(2) Transportation losses: Physical laws prevent the transport of,
for instance excess heat from power plants, beyond the regional
scale. This is especially relevant when applying the exergy approach, for instance energy cascades which optimize energy effi ciency within the region.
(3) Transportation costs: As resources and energy are distributed
over longer distances, both transport costs and greenhouse gas
emissions increase depending on the physical characteristics of the
medium (e.g. biomass is both bulky and heavy and therefore not
suitable for long distance transport).
(4) Scientifi c focus: The region as a spatial unity has a long history
of interest in many professional fi elds. Landscape architects, ecologists, geographer and regional planers work at the regional scale.
(5) Regional policies: A vast number of policy tools and subsidy
programs are established for and applied at the regional scale (e.g.
EU regulations).
(6) Added values: Among the many added values to be explored
on the regional scale, the economic cycle is of particular interest. The energy economy can, under certain circumstances (e.g.
minimum size and population), become a closed circuit. In South
Limburg for instance, each year, hundreds of millions of Euros are
transferred to pay for the import of energy from the North of the
Netherlands or abroad.
Energy Transition at the Regional Scale
The above reasons, among others, suggest investigating the opportunities and restraints for a sustainable energy transition on
the regional scale. In addition, the three most relevant ecological
concepts for the design at regional scale are outlined below.
(I) Hierarchical organization: The concept of hierarchical organization states that every ecosystem, for instance the Heuvelland
(hilly landscape) of South Limburg, consists of levels which may
be defi ned by physical or spatial structure, interactions, fl owrates
or other selected characteristics. Each of these levels is part of a
hierarchy. The form of organization in natural ecosystems can be
depicted as nested hierarchy, where control is carried out from the
higher to the lower level and vice versa. Being aware of the intrinsic complexity of the environment, the concept of nested hierarchy
may help to understand energy fl ow and material cycles at the
regional scale.
(II) Concept of the biome: The biome is a large-scale ecosystem
based upon living conditions and resource availability. One can
identify the biome with the help of natural vegetation and dominant life forms; it subdivides a continent into smaller regions. Due
to the increasing human infl uence onto the environment, the biome, in today’s world, represents a rather abstract concept. Hence,
investigating the biome and, more specifi cally, the potential natural
vegetation comprises a number of benefi ts. Natural vegetation
consists of the plant species best adapted to the local context, such
as climatic conditions and resource availability. By designing with
indigenous species we can save vast amounts of energy.
Ref.8: Golley, F. O. (1996). Ecological Concepts, with Implications
to Environmentalism and Ethics.
Athens, GA: Institute of Ecology,
University of Georgia.
designing sustainable energy landscapes | Sven Stremke 11
(III) Concept of landscape: Landscape is the ecological system
where most of the direct interactions between humans and their
environment can be studied. In the natural hierarchy, the landscape can be ranked somewhere between the biome on the higher
level and the ecotope as the next smaller. Numerous studies on
energy yield and fl ow have been conducted at that scale. In order
to maximize energy effi ciency in human ecosystems, Ryszkowski
and Kdziora emphasize, that an optimum landscape patterns must
be established.1
Energy and Landscape Architecture
Recognizing the emerging challenges related to greenhouse gas
emission, global warming and energy insecurity, the interested
reader may wonder how this would affect spatial design in general and landscape architects in particular? The answer is twofold:
One the one hand, most consequences of the excessive fossil-fuel
consumption will affect human living conditions and manifest themselves in the landscape. On the other hand, the work of landscape
architects is based on the knowledge of natural processes, human behavior and aesthetic perception; all of them being affected
by the changing climate. Exactly here, at the interface between
natural science and architectural imagination lies a great potential
dealing with one essential challenge of the future.
Traditional measures of landscape design such as the utilization
of natural vegetation for shading can signifi cantly reduce energy
consumption for room conditioning and therefore help to minimize
greenhouse gas emissions. Investigating the sources of greenhouse gas emission, it has been realized that carbon dioxide is also
released from peat soils as they are drained for agricultural use.
Large scale deforestation represents another human impact upon
the landscape and compromises the sequestering of carbon dioxide
through photosynthesis. Throughout the last decades, many scientists, architects and designers have begun to understand the many
relations between landscape and energy. Based on this knowledge,
landscape architects are working closely with other professions
engaged with the built and non-built environment. Among the most
appreciated partners in the process of energy transition, we like to
name ecologists, civil engineers, hydrological engineers, regional
planners, geographers, architects, urban designers, sociologists
and economists.
Sustainable Energy Landscapes
Two slightly differentiated concepts can be identifi ed in the discussion on energy transition. At fi rst, all kinds of energy based
on renewable resources found their way into the scientifi c debate
and public discussion. Only with the rising concern on a socially
fair, environmentally friendly and economically feasible future, the
focus has shifted and included sustainable energy sources. This is
primarily due to the fact, that some of the renewable technologies,
although reducing greenhouse gas emissions, do harm the environment as well as humans. One often-quoted example is the Three
Georges Dam; a massive water reservoir in China which’s construction has relocated entire cities with millions of inhabitants. Responsible landscape architects should not only try to maximize the
mere energy yield, but must also strive to balance the less-positive aspects of renewable energy generation with other needs and
requirements such as food production and recreation. This is what
is referred to, when we investigate the potential design of sustainable energy landscapes. We are convinced that a great amount of
energy can be generated by renewable means without compromising other land-uses, biodiversity and the landscape experience. The
capacity for sustainable energy production is affected by geographical location, climate as well as geology and therefore limited. This
perception is based on ecological understanding and highlights the
urgent need for increasing energy effi ciency. Sustainable energy
landscapes do not only generate and store energy but also improve
energy effi ciency by advanced technological and ecological means.
Material cycling, energy cascading and second generation biomass
production2 present, among other ideas, valuable approaches
which will be investigated for their spatial consequences in the
environment. Our objectives are (A) to identify and adapt sound
theoretical concepts and (B) to specify practical design principles
rendering sustainable energy landscapes visible. Designing sustainable energy landscapes is to envisage an environment which yields,
Ref.1: Ryszkowski, L. and A. Kdziora
(1987). “Impact of agricultural landscape structure on energy fl ow and
water cycling.” Landscape Ecology
1(2): 85-94.
Note 2: Second generation biomass
refers to the collection and re-use of
traditional “waste” products in agriculture, forestry or food processing
general references for ‘Energy transitions at the regional scale’
Reference: Steiner, F. R. (2000). The
living landscape: an ecological approach to landscape planning. New
York: McGraw Hill.
Reference: Hough, M. (1990). Out
of place: Restoring identity to the
regional landscape. New Haven: Yale
University Press.
general references for ‘Energy and
landscape architecture’.
Reference: Robinette, G. O. and C.
McClenon, Eds. (1983). Landscape
planning for energy conservation.
New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
Reference: Thompson, J. W. and K.
Sorvig (2000). Sustainable landscape construction: A guide to green
building outdoors. Washington, D.C.:
Island Press.
12 ReEnergizeSL | introduction
stores, recycles and saves energy by means of advanced spatial
planning and improved land use practices without compromising
other essential land-uses.3
Landscape Strategies
Energy savings and renewable energy technologies have been on
the agenda for a long time, ranging from broad public attention
during the oil crisis in the 1970’s to almost no consideration during the economical boom after the end of the cold war in the early
1990’s. Today, we are fortunate to be able and access some of the
prior scientifi c studies and examples improving the energy economy of human ecosystems.
In the city of Kalundborg, for example, a highly diversifi ed network between industry, waste treatment and energy providers has
evolved over the past 20 years. This successful Danish example
is today being referred to as industrial ecology and scientists are
learning how to solve similar problems in other parts of the world.
Literature and case-studies highlight a number of strategies which
can inform designers and planners throughout the design and decision making processes.
These landscape strategies are deeply rooted in the understanding
of ecological concepts; they represent powerful ideas capable to
inspire the designer of human ecosystems.4 Let us briefl y outline
some of the essential landscape strategies for a sustainable energy
(1) Let nature do the work
Facilitating natural processes for the assimilation, transformation
and storage of energy.5
(2) Optimum levels for multiple functions
Integrate food production with other land-uses such as energy assimilation and recreation.5
(3) Matching technology to need
Minimizing subsidized technological “overdesign”.5
(4) Compact form and densifi cation
Minimizing travel while maximizing contact.6
(5) Biorhythm
Enabling different cycles of growth and decline.6
(6) Localization
Providing unique solutions based on the nature of the place.6
(7) Dynamic, open-ended solutions
Developing fl exible systems with greater resistance, for instance
diversifi ed energy supply.
(8) Mixed-use, time-share
Minimizing material, space and energy use, e.g. closing regional
material cycles and horizontal layering.3
(9) Selective, differentiated use of energy and resources
Maximizing effi ciency and minimizing entropy creation.3
(10) Spatio-temporal approach
Matching demand and supply in time and place.3
(11) Integrated approach
Respecting existing conditions in the region.3
(12) Strategic planning
Implementation through process orientation instead of fi nal master
Ref.3: Stremke, S. and Koh, J.
(2006). Sustainable Energy Landscapes – Inventory of Ecological Concepts and Principles with Relevance
to the Design of Sustainable Energy
Landscapes. In: SREX Report 2006,
Groningen: Groningen University.
Note 4: The term landscape strategy
refers to the potential of the landscape conserving, harvesting and
storing energy.
Ref.5: Lyle, J. T. (1994). Regenerative design for sustainable development. New York: John Wiley.
Ref.6: Koh, J. (2005). The Energetic
Strategy of Ecosystem Development
and Urban/Regional Spatial Restructuring and Regeneration. Grounds
for Change: Bridging Energy Planning and Spatial Design Strategies.
F. v. Dam and K. J. Noorman. Groningen: Grounds for Change: 29-37.
designing sustainable energy landscapes | Sven Stremke 13
Landscape Approach
Developing an integrative and regenerative approach to (landscape) design encompassing both urban and rural areas is one of
the research objectives of the landscape architecture program under the chair of Prof. Dr. Jusuck Koh at Wageningen University. It is
important to stress, that the focus lies not only on sustainable energy transition ; the new approach also embraces other, essential
issues such as the mitigation of global warming, community participation and the maintenance of cultural landscapes. The emerging landscape approach is one way of studying the environment;
a scientifi c method. The landscape approach describes the entire
landscape as overlapping patches, each with numerous indispensable natural processes. It recognizes the growing impact of mankind on the natural ecosystems and our responsibility to species
other than the human. The landscape approach integrates spatial
thinking (location) with the knowledge of ecological processes (material cycling and energy fl ow).1 The emerging landscape approach
as such is based upon the understanding of relationships in our
environment. It advances prescriptive ecological concepts towards
landscape strategies needed for an implicit energy transition. This
paper is part of a greater initiative to expose spatial designers,
landscape architects and planers to the many opportunities arising
when ecological knowledge meets architectural imagination. Exactly this symbiosis between the understanding of ecological processes and creative spatial thinking forms the basis for the landscape
approach rendering solutions for a more sustainable future.
With this booklet, you are invited on a journey to South Limburg in
the year 2037. This is the fi rst attempt to render a sustainable future for the entire region of approximately 670 square kilometer. In
collaboration with a team of international students, we have identifi ed a number of essential design principles which can inform and
guide the designer of sustainable energy landscapes. All strategies
have been applied and visualized for the interested public. We hope
that our studies can contribute to the active debate on a sustainable future in South Limburg and other regions. Note 1: The present description of the landscape approach is to be un- derstood as a “working defi nition”.
14 ReEnergizeSL | introduction
Mission Statement Regional Atelier 2007: ReEnergize South Limburg
designing sustainable energy landscapes | Sven Stremke 15
Time Horizon
2007 – 2037 (30 years)
Scope of Work
Energy savings
Energy assimilation
Energy storage
Energy transportation
Energy use and re-use
Added values
Research Questions
How can we optimize existing energy flows and material cycles?
To what extend can we generate renewable energy in the region?
How will a sustainable energy transition influence the landscape?
Key Foci
Strengthening regional development
Changing to renewable energy-sources
Increasing self-sufficiency for energy and waste treatment
Maintaining typical character of cultural landscape
Design of sustainable energy landscapes increasing regional self-sufficiency
Mission drivers
Depletion of fossil-fuel resources
CO2 emission
Dependency on energy import
Regional identity
Soil erosion
Water storage
Economic shortfall
Design Proposals
working in the atelier format
Before you lies the result of a student atelier in landscape architecture. The atelier started on the 8th of January and ended on 26th
of April 2007. Before we dig deeper into the results of the atelier,
it is good to comprehend the context in which these results were
produced. So this chapter will deal with the participants in the
atelier, the procedure that was followed, the pedagogic aspects and
some issues pertaining the subject of sustainable energy in relation
to regional landscape architecture.
Participants, lecturers and tutors
In an atelier such as this, three groups of people are involved: Students, lecturers and tutors. The students are an international group
of students that have a completed bachelors degree in landscape
architecture. In the fi rst year of the masters-level training they are
participating in this atelier.
Procedural aspects
The students worked in three phases on this subject, following a
more or less classic order of inventory and analysis, envisioning
and conceptualizing designing and detailing.
In the fi rst phase the students worked in groups of three analyzing the matterscape, the powerscape and the mindscape of south
limburg and the energy-aspects.
These three terms refer to different aspects of the landscape. In
matterscape the material aspects of the landscape are analyzed.
What are the numbers of inhabitants and here specifi cally how
much energy is being used and produced in the area. In powerscape, we look at political aspects of landscape. Who is in control,
what are agreed policies for this landscape at which level. Where
are administrative boundaries etc. In mindscape we look at landscape as the matter of imagination and appreciation on the basis of perception. What do we think about the landscape? What is the difference of opinion on this landscape with regards to in and outsiders? Out of these inventories and analyses three posters and presentations were distilled. The results were shared with the other groups and commented on by the tutors. The group-members then split evenly over three new groups with each a subregional area. The subregional areas cover the whole of South Limburg, divided into the Parkstad, the Maasvalley and the Heuvelland. Renewing their analysis on a more detailed level the students worked out a subregional proposal. Finally the students worked out one detail of the subregional proposal individually. Pedagogic aspects The students have worked in groups for a large part of the ate- lier thus facilitating inter-student learning. This is important in the masters-phase as we then have a mixed group of students of Wageningen bachelors, professional bachelors from the Larenstein education and international students from diverse backgrounds. As they have expressed their preference for working in a regional scale in subsequent practice, all these students will have to work in design-teams. So learning to cooperate in a team, evaluating and compositing plans from different origins is part of the learning experience. The knowledge-base with regards to the sustainable energy-side of the project is broadened by lectures of experts in this fi eld and/ or by professional landscape architects specialized in this fi eld. Dif- ferent lectures were given by specialists on the use of biomass for energy production, on the impact of windmills on the landscape, on urban harvesting, on the use of waterpower and geothermal
16 ReEnergizeSL | introduction
working in the atelier format | Rudi van Etteger 17
resources in the fi eld and on ecological principles to be used in
regional design. Also the students were given lectures in argumentation theory and policy debate, this knowledge was trained during
a debate. This debate also meant a sharpening of the proposals
through inter-student learning.
The knowledge of the regional circumstances is provided by literature study, two fi eldtrips and lectures from the landscape department staff. The students have enriched this by interviewing contact-persons in the region and by repeat-visits to their design-sites.
Why is this landscape architecture?
Why do we run a landscape architecture atelier on the impact of
the production of sustainable energy on a regional landscape?
We, as the staff of the landscape architecture department, do not
believe in landscape architecture in terms of plain beautifi cation.
Working on relevant themes for society as a whole and local communities in particular has our specifi c attention. Fitting new societal
needs in the landscape and researching the capacity of the landscape to deal with new functions e.g. the production of sustainable
energy is part of our desire to make our research matter.
Within the fi eld of sustainable energy we, of course, then focus on
the impact on the landscape. That means that we research the full
potential of the landscape to produce but also evaluate this capacity against the landscape with regards to ecological and experiential values. So the proposals are sensible but not the technical
maximum production capacity.
Landscape architecture on a regional scale
Landscape architecture on a regional scale is always closely related
to spatial planning but where landscape planning focuses on the
“what goes where?” and on the “how to arrange this?”, landscape
architecture looks at the “how?” of fi tting functions in the landscape, with an equal eye for functional, ecological, political and
aesthetic aspects. Of course the latter is impossible without some
thoughts on the former. These projects try to balance the needs
of a scientifi c approach towards landscape grounded in geology,
ecology and geography and the everyday experience of these
landscapes. But where an experiential approach would not allow
us to deal with a site of this size, the scientifi c approach would not
allow us to design for people. A theory seminar focusing on these
two confl icting demands on regional design was held parallel to the
The use of the atelier in research
If nine students spend 14 hours for 16 weeks that is 2016 hours
of work. To spend this much time on one subject, a university-researcher needs to work almost one and a half year on four days a
week full-time research. The chairgroup of landscape architecture
therefore thinks it is wise to extend current topics of research into
atelier-subjects. The advantage for the students is that they get
even more dedicated tutoring, as what they do matters to the tutors. The students also benefi t by being included in cutting edge
research rather than rehearsing the same old exercises done a
thousand times before. The advantage to the tutors is of course
the fresh thinking power to be used for their research. The preparation for such ateliers takes a little longer as there are new subjects every atelier, but this then does fi t again with the researchwork. In times of increasing pressure on university staff to produce
publishable research as well as provide intensive teaching these
advantages are direly sought after.
refl ections on the regional atelier 2007
18 ReEnergizeSL | introduction
Landscape Approach as Integration of Process Thinking with
Spatial Thinking
The world is changing, and new challenges are emerging. There
is much work that needs to be done and that also calls for effective leadership by landscape architects. In order to cope with these
challenges, what must we teach at Wageningen School of Landscape Architecture?
Landscape architecture today and for us is no longer just about
beautifi cation or amelioration of the destructive impact caused
by what I would call an architectural approach to design and the
wastefulness of an industrial way of building cities. Since quite
sometime informed design professionals have realized that our
large scale environment can no longer be designed effectively
through formalistic architecture or a socio-economic approach by
urban and regional planners. How then can we still demonstrate
that design matters and aesthetic counts even on large scale design? It is tempting to focus only on ‘sustainability’ loosing sight of
aesthetics, and to think that multi-functionalism alone would lead
to its own aesthetics.
Refl ecting our desire to remain relevant and effective to today’s
challenge, our chair group believes in a ‘landscape approach to
design’ combined with an ‘eco-poetic approach to landscape’, and
in the value of strategic and interactive urban and regional design.
The Netherlands have an enormous ecological footprint, amounting to 18 times of its own land. It is also a fact that this country
cannot be energetically self-suffi cient and closed to waste export
and foreign energy import. Furthermore, the natural gas reserves
in the North Sea are estimated to be depleted in about thirty years.
Considering these facts, this regional atelier is an example of our
attempt to integrate scientifi c research with the creativity of landscape design. It also demonstrates the value a landscape approach
holds, the only design approach we know of that combines spatial
thinking with process thinking.
ReEnergize South Limburg – Designing Sustainable Energy Landscapes is our second atelier, following up a fi rst study focused on
the Northern provinces of the Netherlands. In 2006, our chairgroup
had joined an interdisciplinary, international workshop to provide
visions for a sustainable future of these regions. Through this
workshop we not only realized that a landscape approach is necessary but also that not enough research is carried out for sustainable landscapes at the regional scale. We realized that traditional
spatial thinking, so characteristic of the Modernist approach to architecture and urban and regional planning, must be combined with
process thinking, with looking at human settlement as material
processes, that as such cannot be excepted from the dictate of the
laws of Thermodynamics. Beyond this need for a combination of
spatial and process thinking, we also realize that cost and value of
our built environment should not and can no longer be adequately
examined in market economic terms , but require to be measured
by energy accounting and life cycle cost.
The Regional Atelier 2007 is benefi ting on the one hand from our
research project Sustainable Energy Landscapes, and on the other
from our fi rst Atelier on the Northern Provinces. The work of our
students is not about beautifi cation, composition or egocentric
concepts (such as “my design, my idea…”). It is rather about
responsible design fed by research information: design becoming a
refl ections on the regional atelier 2007 | Jusuck Koh 19
testing tool for research on the question “what if”. It is also responsive design for and with communities, where design itself becomes
a learning process and communicative act.
About two months ago, I attended the Archiprix International
Award Ceremony in Shanghai. I came away very disappointed by
so much meaningless, almost irrelevant, yet egocentric design displayed by so called “big name architects” giving key note speeches.
Yet, I was also deeply moved by, and became hopeful with some of
the student designs which dealt with ecology, community,
sustainability and social issues in developing countries, still delivering imaginative, caring and beautiful design. I became strongly
convinced that for our students to be successful, our recipe for
winning design must consist of (1) Global issues and local sites,
(2) Scientifi c and technical reasoning, (3) Architectural imagination, and (4) Exquisite communication. I believe that most of the
value of our students’ work in this publication comes, in fact, from
these factors.
Leading to such results I thank Rudi van Etteger’s effective organization and pedagogy, picking up energy issues, and Sven Stremke,
our PhD researcher, bringing in his research activity under my
supervision, in particular the embracing of key ecological concepts
and principles that, I believe, manifest nature’s successful strategy
for energy assimilation. I hope that next year’s Atelier can deal
with more explicit and specifi c ecosystem strategies, and prove
the relevance of a landscape approach to sustainable design at the
regional scale.
South Limburg: Location in the Netherlands
20 ReEnergizeSL | introduction
41.526 km2
16.500.000 pop.
41.526 km2
16.500.000 pop.
395 inh/km2
South Holland
2818 km2
3.500.000 pop.
1227 inh/km2
8.327 km2
1.700.000 pop.
204 inh/km2
South Limburg
670 km2
650.000 pop.
966 inh/km2
Region of South Limburg: Area, Population and Density
south limburg in focus 21
2% Regional
37% Crude oil (primary resource)
35% Natural gas (primary resource)
15% Electricity (secondary resource)
11% Material resources
22 ReEnergizeSL | introduction
Area required to replace current energy consumption in South Limburg
PV cells with full coverage: 300 km2
Wind turbines with 2.5 MW each: 1800 km2
First generation biomass production: 8000 km2
south limburg in focus 23
Use of Fossil-Fuel Ressources (Energy and Material): 2005 – 2037
Heating/cooling Transportation Electricity Materials
45 PJ 26 PJ 17 PJ 32 PJ
-1,5% Reduced Consumption
– 0,5% Population
Heating/cooling Transportation Electricity Materials
27 PJ 15 PJ 10 PJ 18 PJ
ReEnergizeSL | introduction
South Limburg: Three Subregions
south limburg in focus 25
Maasvalley 244.000 population
Energy consumption 2037: 27 PJ
Parkstad 278.000 population
Energy consumption 2037: 30 PJ
Heuvelland 113.000 population
Energy consumption 2035: 13 PJ
We would like to thank the students that have worked in this atelier. We set out working in this atelier with
high expectations and the standard set by last year’s atelier. This booklet shows that those expectations could
this result is good because of all the sheer hard work put in by the students. Their enthusiasm for this theme
is a powerful antidote for the culturally pessimistic amongst us. It shows that when genuine concern and interest is there, people can go beyond our and their own expectations. They succeeded in widening the circle and
in the landscape shows that they are well underway of becoming serious landscape architects of academic
quality. We thank the students for their input in the research of which this atelier is a part; their work became
Rudi van Etteger | Sven Stremke 127
participants and tutors, starting upper left: Sven Stremke – Rudi van Etteger – María Galdón – Martijn T. Slob
Tijmen van Straten РBas van de Sande РClaire Oude Aarninkhof РArjen Boekel РKees Neven РPieter For̩ РNejc Florjanc
C l a i r e O u d e A a r n i n k h o f – A r j a n B o e k e l – N e j c F l o r j a n c – P i e t e r F o r é – M a r í a G a l d ó n – K e e s N e v e n
B a s v a n d e S a n d e – M a r t i j n T . S l o b – T i j m e n v a n S t r a t e n | R u d i v a n E t t e g e r – J u s u c k K o h – S v e n S t r e m k e
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