A digital tool for integrating renewable energy devices within landscape elements: Energy-scape online application

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There is a major shift toward integrating renewable energy (RE) within the urban context to create zero energy buildings, passive buildings and smart cities. Landscape approximately occupies 65% of the urban area, which nominates landscape to play a major role in generating energy from renewable sources (e.g. solar, wind, etc). In order to achieve this objective, “Energy-scape” elements have been introduced to generate clean and efficient energy by integrating renewable energy (RE) devices with landscape elements. Previous research presented Energy-scape database to help landscape and urban designers to replace landscape with Energy-scape elements and to focus on integrating renewable energy (RE) within the urban environment. Several architects and landscape designers still lack the basic knowledge of RE, never to mention, the complexity of Energy-scape database that is continuously updated. Furthermore, the lack of computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools that can help architects, designers and decision-makers to swiftly integrate RE devices with the urban environment is another barrier to spread the implementation of similar projects. This research attempts to overcome this challenge by introducing a new web-based application to design landscape while integrating Energy-scape elements in urban environment. The algorithm of this web-based application analyzes existing landscape based on existing resources to select suitable Energy-scape elements, required area, and the best suitable locations of these elements within a specific project. The proposed algorithm enables the users to modify suggested locations and area of the Energy-scape elements to meet the project’s needs in term of the available budget, area or the required energy production. Further, the new algorithm calculates the impact of integrating Energy-scape elements within the project in term of cost (e.g. capital and running costs), lifetime, and total energy saving. Moreover, the current paper introduces a simplified user-friendly web-based tool of the proposed new algorithm that will help architects and landscape designers to use Energy-scape elements efficiently within their projects. The efficiency of the presented web-based application will be tested in a case study of Al-Azhar Park in Cairo, Egypt to validate the software capabilities in a real-case scenario. The research concludes that the proposed software application is an effective tool for landscape designers to use Energy-scape elements through identifying the optimum type and location of them within landscape design projects and calculating the impact of using them in terms of energy-savings and carbon emission (CO2) reduction.