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Funding awarded to HERITAGE programme (4TU) Heat Robustness in relation to ageing cities

In December 2021, the four technical universities called on their scientists to submit proposals for joint programs within the overarching theme of ‘High Tech for a Sustainable Future’. One of the proposals that will receive funding over the next five years is the HERITAGE programme. With HERITAGE, researchers from the four technical universities in the Netherlands work on high-tech systems that can accurately determine and predict the heat in the urban heritage, in order to subsequently limit the heat experience of the inhabitants. Due to climate change and increasing urbanisation, urban areas have to deal with ever-increasing temperatures. Inner cities also have old buildings to which often not much can be adapted because of their monumental value.

Many disciplines come together in the HERITAGE programme, with knowledge and expertise from the four universities involved. This includes the remote sensing knowledge of the University of Twente, hydrological and urban design expertise of TU Delft, meteorological knowledge of Wageningen University and knowledge about sustainable (solar) energy in buildings of TU Eindhoven.

Measuring and sensing for design solutions

Existing measuring networks, as well as satellite images and aircrafts equipped with sensors, are used to take measurements of such things as temperature, solar radiation, and buildings. They are looking at how to reduce the heat in the city and how existing parts of the city can be better designed. More greenery and water are common solutions, but there are still many open questions, for example, about absolute effects and when and where such measures are appropriate. Water cools slowly at night, for example, so large bodies of water near care homes are probably not advisable.

Model maximum difference in temperature between rural and urban areas for 3 July 2018 (UHI – Urban Heat Island effect)

The right information for heat reduction

Coordinator Wim Timmermans already looks ahead to the impact of the HERITAGE programme. "It would be great if, by giving people the right information and getting them more involved, they could take steps of their own to reduce the heat in their city. For example, by adjusting the heating or air conditioning, or laying fewer tiles in their garden. We are primarily a technical programme, but if we can achieve this kind of citizen ownership as a side-effect, I will be very proud."

Marjolein van Esch (assistant professor at TU Delft) adds to this: "the beauty of this project is that it combines monodisciplinary, fundamental research methods with interdisciplinary and application-oriented research methods, thus creating a truly integrated approach. I hope and believe that society - from policymakers to citizens - will be able to make real headway with climate adaptation through this approach."

Overview of HERITAGE warning and design system

More information

In December 2021, the four technical universities called on their scientists to submit proposals for joint programs within the overarching theme of ‘High Tech for a Sustainable Future’. By bundling complementary knowledge, the TUs are committed to innovation within research and education in order to achieve maximum results together. Six proposals were submitted; four of these will now receive a total of 20 million euros in funding for the five-year period.

The programme leader for HERITAGE, Wim Timmermans, is senior researcher at University of Twente. Given his research interest in bridging the gap between remote-sensing based observations of water and energy at the earth's surface and the atmosphere, management of multi-disciplinary EU- and NWO-funded projects, coordination of large-scale experimental campaigns and initiation of the Living Innovation Lab, Wim is highly motivated to make HERITAGE successful with the help of a long-lasting cross-disciplinary team.