From ambitions to reality. Understanding and quantifying the relations between food, energy & water for a neighborhood sustainability hub, the green tower in Amsterdam

MADE Student Project

Sustainable food, energy, and water (FEW) provisions are essential to creating sustainable urban communities. However, there are only few examples of decentralized systems that support the generation, distribution, and recycling of FEW at a neighbourhood level. Let alone examples of a neighbourhood sustainability hub that processes all three at one location. Motived by the Green Tower in the Bajeskwartier, a tower with the intention to become the ‘sustainable heart of the neighbourhood’, this thesis aims to improve the understanding of the interrelations in FEW for neighbourhood sustainability hubs.

References can be found inside the document.

In this, emphasis is placed on creating a flexible and interactive tool that helps improve this understanding to help designers and developers in the initiation phase of designing the hub. The Green Tower is used as case study for this research and the designers as test group for the tool. Design thinking was applied as overarching methodological approach and the FEW Nexus used as theoretical basis for creating this tool. First, a stakeholder analysis and power relation mapping helped identify the types of involvement of the main stakeholders. Then, a literature study and a series of SWOT analyses helped understand the preliminary design of the Green Tower and the strengths and weaknesses of its planned systems from a FEW Nexus approach. Afterwards, a system diagram and theoretical model were created to visualize the planned and potential relations in FEW among the Green Tower’s systems. By means of prototyping, an interactive quantitative model was made in Excel that calculates the FEW balances of the sustainability hub based on a scalable floor plan. Last, the outcomes of the model were tested in a focus group with representatives of the main stakeholders involved in designing the Green Tower. The tool created in this thesis exists of the visualization method and quantitative model. The results of the quantitative model showed that the current program of the Green Tower has a negative energy balance, limited availability in food supply and a lack of water treatments systems from a FEW Nexus perspective. The design team of the Green Tower positively received the tool and results. An elaborate set of recommendation for operationalizing the tool have been documented.

Author: Jesse Bergman

Want to read more about this topic?

If you are interested in this topic, it is recommended to also visit the collection Healthy Urban Living. This Living Lab project by students in which a database is used to monitor how clean, safe, comfortable, sustainable, and wealthy living environments are, in order to help cities and their local policymakers, urban planners, or project developers in decision-making processes.

Visit the page here. 

Afbeelding credits

Icon afbeelding: AMS Institute logo vierkant rood