7 Square Endeavour’s energy concept proves to be feasible

In 2019, a feasibility study has been performed for the energy concept that was developed for the Theatre Square in Rotterdam, under the wing of 7 Square Endeavour. This energy concept must give substance to 7 Square Endeavour’s ambitions to realize a CO2-neutral and climate adaptive square in 2030. The feasibility study indicated that these ambitions can in fact be realized by applying a smart, innovative and combined energy- and water concept. This article will go into further detail on this feasibility study and its results.  


Our planet’s climate is changing, and it’s changing rapidly. In order to minimize the harmful impacts of climate change, global policy is aimed towards reducing our environmental footprint. In July 2019, the Dutch parliament approved and signed the Climate Agreement which will be anchored in the Climate Act. The resulting goals are a CO2-reduction of 95% compared to 1990 in 2050, with an intermediate goal of 49% reduction in 2030. 7 Square Endeavour holds the ambition to reach net zero CO2-emissions by 2030 as well as be fully climate adaptive in this year. On a local scale, 7 Square Endeavour acts upon matters of global urbanization and its negative impacts such as pollution, heat stress and enhanced flood risk/enhanced drought. To utilize energy in a smart and innovative way is one of the program’s pillars. Rotterdam’s Theatre Square functions as a pilot ground for new and innovative technologies, cyclical processes and business cases. Therefore a feasibility study has been performed for the most sustainable and effective energy and water concept that is to characterize 7 Square Endeavour.  

Feasibility of the energy system

  To reach a sustainable and long-term effective energy system, the Trias Energetica principle has been applied to the project. The Trias Energetica principle is based on the following strategy:
  1. Minimize the object’s energy demand (by enhancing efficiency through structural and technical measures);
  2. Apply sustainable energy sources to meet the remaining energy demand;
  3. If unavoidable, use fossil fuel sources as efficiently as possible.
  For every building within 7 Square Endeavour’s demarcation, energy saving measures have been identified that will lead to a significantly reduced energy demand. The most notable measures are enhancing isolation of the building envelopes, monitoring the energy demands and applying LED lighting. To foresee in step two of the Trias Energetica principle, the most sustainable, effective and efficient energy concept for CO2-neutral heat- and cold supply in 2030 has been researched. Currently, the square uses urban heat from waste incineration – a method that is deemed as being sustainable but actually leads to significant CO2-emissions. To be able to supply the square’s energy demand in a sustainable manner, the feasibility of a thermal energy storage system has been researched. Besides the thermal energy storage system, also the possibilities to provide renewable energy (the integration of PV panels) in the planning area has been and is still being studied. Generation of the total electricity demand and therefore being self-sufficient in sustainable electricity supply is not feasible due to limited available roof surface area. Therefore the remaining energy demand will need to be purchased from external sustainable sources.

Feasibility of the Water Bulb

  Besides a sustainable energy concept to reduce CO2-emissions, 7 Square’s ambition is to be climate-adaptive and future-proof. Therefore a water plan has been developed to smartly handle both water excess and water shortages that are likely to occur as a result of climate change. Besides the realization of green (living) roofs to improve water retention and reduce the urban heat island effect, also the possibilities related to a large water-buffering water bulb have been researched. This water bulb functions as an underground water buffer to retain excessive water and supply water in times of draught. Additionally, the water buffer will function to partially supply in the cold demand of the buildings from which the water will be collected. Through a pipeline system the water bulb will primarily function to supply the green roofs with water to maintain the vegetation.  

Conclusion and future development

  The realization of a net zero CO2 and climate adaptive theatre square in 2030 has proved to be feasible. To achieve carbon neutrality, it is necessary to develop a linked thermal energy storage system and to buy green electricity. In order to limit the energy demand, energy saving measures have been identified in close collaboration with building owners and partners to fit them in scheduled (maintenance) activities. To realize a climate adaptive square, a.o. the possibilities to adapt to the urban heat island effect, heavy rainshowers, draught and water scarcity have been researched. The implementation of green roofs and an underground water buffer bulb allows to limit climate-changed induced stress. This will result in a livable square, now and in the future.   Now that the concept’s feasibility has been confirmed, more and more highly-detailed research will be performed on sustainability measures and their respective calculations, as well as the energy concept will be further modelled. Once this input is available, a business case will be developed that will grant insight in a financing model and an organizational model.