Research details

REMOURBAN City Demonstrator Project

Related research: Smart Heat Networks

Remourban is a major Future Cities demonstrator Project, supported by a major EU Horizon 2020 investment (EU Lighthouse project scheme) for five years (2014-2019). EU Lighthouse projects will tackle issues at the intersection of the: (i) transport, (ii) energy and (iii) ICT sectors. The projects trigger strategic partnerships of innovation-driven companies from the three sectors acting across geographical borders. They forge strong partnerships with local leaders and municipal authorities to gain the vital support and visibility necessary to engage and empower citizens and local stakeholders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption and more widely to improve the urban environment.

Remourban is a partnership between three EU cities:

  • Nottingham (UK)
  • VALLADOLID (Spain)
  • Eskisehir (Turkey)

And two further follower cities:

  • Seraing (Belgium)
  • Miskolc (Hungary)

Each partner city develops novel solutions independently, according to its own local needs. These solutions and innovations are then shared across the five cities, to develop generic city solutions.

In Nottingham the project is a partnership between NCC (Nottingham City Council), NTU (Nottingham Trent University), NCH (Nottingham City Homes), NEP (Nottingham Energy Partnership), INFOHUB Ltd. and SASIE Ltd. (two local SMEs). The project is led by Dr Anton Ianakiev

Brief description of the Nottingham Project 

a. Brief description of the site

Nottingham is famous for its link to the legend of Robin Hood and in the last century also obtained worldwide recognition for its lace-making, bicycle and tobacco industries. Nottingham, one of the major cities in East Midlands is situated 130 miles north of London and has official population of 305,750, which is relatively small due to historically tightly drawn official city boundary. The wider city urban area has a population of 729,977 making it the ninth largest urban area in UK. Nottingham has a number of famous institutions and venues like the National Ice and Water Sport centres, a famous Trent Bridge Test cricket ground and the city has two universities attended by over 60,000 students.

Nottingham City and County Councils have developed local strategic plans for EU investment 2014-2019, which includes the following three focal areas.

  1. Smart Energy Communities- focussing on Retrofit and District heating
  2. Low carbon transport technologies
  3. Support for low carbon SMEs- focus on innovation

The city has already developed a 1st phase city wide Energy map based on the work for the energy strategy, however this mapping and modelling needs to be developed further to make it fit to meet the vision of 'A smart city where energy flows are planned, mapped and monitored.'

Over the last three years public and private capital investment has been steered according to the strategy, resulting in energy saving retrofit investment into around 12,000 of Nottingham's homes (1 in 10), 3,500 (1 in 35) homes with PV systems. There is a significant extension to the city district heating network and a significant extension to the city's tram network. The city is now looking to steer investment into harder to treat areas such as solid wall insulation. Nottingham has the UK's largest solid wall retrofit programme.

Nottingham City has developed a City 2020 Energy (and Carbon) strategy in 2010 this was adopted by cross party consensus. The strategy covered domestic, commercial, public and industrial infrastructure, energy saving, energy generation and transport. 

Nottingham successful public transport network now carries around 75 million passengers a year. Since 2003, the number of passengers has increased significantly and unlike most other English cities Nottingham has experienced a renaissance in bus use reflecting the high standards of quality while Nottingham's tram network has been heralded as the most successful light rail project in the country. Over half of Nottingham’s residents have no access to a car. There is currently only a limited tram and rail network, making bus travel the predominant form of public transport – accounting for around 75% of the 75m pa public transport trips made.

The area around Sneinton Road, Sneinton , Nottingam is considered as the most appropriate for the development of the REMOURBAN (DEMO site). The site is very close to the existing district heating. The pipe line is reaching the Bio City which is very close to Sneinton Road (100 – 200m). There is a substantial Nottingham City Council (NCC) housing in the area that need upgrading to much more energy efficient state. Close to the site is one of the famous city landmarks – George Green's Windmill and science centre.The project will focus on a variety of property typologies in Nottingham within the Sneinton area (see attached property typology catalogue) ranging from one bedroom flats to three bedroom terraced houses, and in age, from 1900 to the 70s. A large number of the properties (65%) in the area are social housing, owned by Nottingham City Council (NCC) and managed on their behalf by Nottingham City Homes (NCH). However the energy efficiency retro-fit work will be open to all tenures within the defined streets and property types so that households, regardless of ownership, will benefit from the project. 

Despite the variations in age and construction type, the common characteristic of most of the selected properties in the area is the lack of insulation in the walls, whether these are constructed from solid brick, solid concrete or various types of infill cladding on timber studs between solid cross-walls. This variety of property types requires different types of solid wall insulation. There are a few cavity wall properties in the area but these have not been included in the project since the insulation of the cavity wall properties is simpler and less costly and the majority of these properties have already been insulated.

b. Summary of the interventions

  1. The retrofitting intervention strategy focuses on the primary measure of Solid Wall Insulation and its use on a variety of substrates and property ages, and on'‘Room in the Roof' insulation on properties that are over 100 years old.
  2. As part of the retrofitting programme, it is proposed to refurbish a terrace block of nine, three-bedroom houses at West Walk, Sneinton to a high standard of energy efficiency, aiming to be as close as reasonably possible to the EnerPHit standard, which is developed as a good practice refurbishment guide for the Passivhaus renovations. EnerPHit recognises the difficulty of achieving a full Passivhaus standard in existing buildings without excessive cost and set slightly different requirements to the full Passivhaus standard. This will provide valuable learning for local installers (as a supplement to Passivhaus Installer training which is being offered by SASIE Training Ltd and a valuable template and case study for the wide range of similar post-war, non-traditional concrete cross-wall properties across the UK and beyond. Learning gathered for the bill of materials and the installation process will provide a valuable template for other social housing providers especially for NCC (Nottingham City Homes).
  3. The district heating intervention will extend the existing extensive district heating network (4,700 homes) by using the low temperature return heating for the first time on this system and may be in UK. The intervention will use a single buffer vessel at each of the low raise blocks to act as a thermal storage unit regarding the distribution into the individual flats. The thermal storage unit will be connected to larger scale solar thermal installation on the roof of the blocks to add additional onsite generation from renewables.
  4. Each retrofitted property will be equipped with smart energy metering system that brings the energy metering into the digital age. The system will provide dual streams of information; one for the energy provider in order to improve billing accuracy and one for the consumer. The consumers will be able to assess their own energy usage within the property and will be able to adjust their energy use on a room by room basis.
  5. Nottingham leads the way in sustainable transport. It is the first city in the UK to have a stringent environmental standard for all buses entering the City Centre. Nottingham City Council is developing a fleet of 50 Electric Buses over 2014 to serve existing Link services and the two park and ride bus services. Electric buses are zero CO, NOx and PM, 50% less well to wheel CO2 than diesel counterparts. Cost savings are estimated at more than 10,500 euros per bus per annum (dependent upon duty cycle fuel plus service cost savings). The project will establish a Touristlink bus service using two electric vehicles on a proposed circular route from Wollaton Hall to Green's Mill via Nottingham Castle and Nottingham Contemporary. The electricity to recharge the buses can be supplied by Enviroenergy, powered by burning the city's waste, representing further carbon savings of around 40% compared to conventional diesel buses.
  6. The project will also develop a small local consolidation centre for last mile delivery by using small electric vehicles for transportation of goods at the city centre reducing the number of large vehicles used for domestic and business deliveries. The solution is scalable, cost effective, makes more effective use of existing infrastructures and is of particular benefit to cities and towns.
  7. The project incorporate the City Car Club Nottingham, an hourly car hire scheme funded through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) and the Work Place parking levy. The scheme is alternative to car ownership and traditional car hire and provides greener transport options for local residents by using hybrid or electrical vehicles.
  8. For this project it is planned to develop an Integrated Infrastructure City Model that will combine on-line simulation models for each one of the three building blocks of the Integrated ICT infrastructures: ICT for City Architecture Infrastructure; ICT for Energy Consumption Infrastructure and ICT for Transport Infrastructure.
  9. The project encourages pro-active inclusion of the citizens , who are presently excluded from day to day energy reduction and resourcing processes, to be deliberately included in the future. It is a platform by which the "have-not" citizens learn from each other and join in the decision making for their community and city through better awareness and information. This leads to citizen led influences on social reform within the cities.

The project advocates a distributed approach for cities by empowering citizen interaction on a hyper-local level, via social networking. This view is rooted in structuring participation and technologies to enhance and encourage cooperation, engagement and social exchange – a framework of citizen engagement in which people are at the centre of figuring out what their neighbourhood needs, how to implement it, and how best to work with nearby neighbourhoods for mutual benefit.

For more information please contact :

Dr Anton Ianakiev
Reader in Finite Element Modelling
Nottingham Trent University
Telephone +44 (0)115 848 2611