Early September, the workshop series for the Rubroek demo site in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, was rounded off with a last stakeholder workshop. The stakeholders present were the housing corporation, the municipality, the local energy grid operator and a social initiative involved in the Rubroek case.

Working on the ECODISTR-ICT tool, the integrated decision-support system (IDSS), the stakeholders themselves could fill in their ambitions on a selection of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and provide the scorings of five alternatives. They were asked to prioritise their ambitions and select a maximum of five KPIs from a list of 21 qualitative and quantitative KPIs in total. This was meant to prevent information overload and a range of scores averaging out against each other (leaving little distinctions between the alternatives).

The KPIs were then scored for each alternative:

  • “business as usual”
  • replacing the gas infrastructure with district heating
  • solar photovoltaic panels
  • extensive energy renovation, and
  • digging a new canal (for water retention and drainage purposes. It may also add aesthetic value to the neighbourhood and attract new residents).

The results were discussed with the group, involving the following questions: “What was your motivation to give a certain score?”, “Which alternative (or combination of alternatives) do you like best?”, “What can be done to improve the alternative?”

It is interesting to note that the chosen KPIs were a mix of qualitative (social cohesion, affordability, awareness) and quantitative (energy label, gas use, electricity use, investment costs) factors.

An important lesson for the development of the tool was that a low score may be preferred by one party, while a high score may benefit society. For example, low investment costs are good for the investor, but the societal return in terms of avoided CO2 emissions may also be low.

Moreover, many of the alternatives are technically very advanced and would need to be combined with additional measures, such as smart meters for example, to support the KPI awareness. Regarding the choice of alternatives, solar panels and renovation (insulation measures) were considered to be no-regret alternatives. Next to that, the area of the Rubroek case is very favourably located for district heating. For now, however, a lack of local support and hampering rules and regulations make this option too difficult to implement.

Finally, during all the workshop sessions working on and refining the Rubroek demo site, the housing corporation, grid operator and the municipality have found in each other a sort of “coalition of the willing” that will continue to investigate the potentials and possibilities for the ECODISTR-ICT project.

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