Positive energy districts: a new way of looking at carbon neutral cities

1 minute read

Positive energy districts, in short PEDs, are seen as an urban neighbourhood with annual net zero energy import and net zero CO₂ emissions working towards a surplus production of renewable energy, integrated in an urban and regional energy system. They aim to the focus from the individual positive energy buildings to positive energy blocks towards neighbourhoods and thus a new level of impact on sustainable urban development and the energy transition process (JPI Urban Europe).


The city of Amsterdam together with Bilbao have been awarded a EU subsidy to demonstrate technical, social and economic solutions to PED implementation in their cities (so-called Lighthouse cities). In Amsterdam, Buiksloterham is the location for the PED. In this case, "district" is a virtual concept as the PED is not a strictly geographically defined area, but a small scale network of components within a wider district.

I have been involved in the preparation of the proposal on behalf of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA), who, together with other Dutch and Spanish knowledge institutes, will evaluate the demonstrations and conclude on the approaches for replication of PEDs across the EU.

It is early days yet. It still has to be proven that PEDs are suitable and feasible building blocks for future cities and, in particular, that  this concept is also possible in existing urban neighbourhoods and urban areas, where a positive energy balance is far more difficult to achieve. Demonstration projects, like those in Amsterdam, are essential in answering these questions. 

Mark van Wees


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Dealing with climate change is complex. It requires ambitious, equitable and realistic targets, consistent policies, effective markets and implementation support, including climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building.

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Mark van Wees

Our expert

Mark van Wees

Research, consultancy, technical assistance and project management in the EU, Central and Eastern Europe, South East Europe, and in developing countries. 

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