Digitalization in Urban Planning: From Spatial Energy Planning to Digitalization in Construction Engineering (PBM_integrativ)

The project provides a comprehensive overview of conditions and interrelations between administration, economy and planning and to elaborate the most important features and deficits in the flow of relevant information between the different phases of a building’s life cycle - planning, construction and management/administration.

Short Description

Motivation and research question

Since some years processes of digitization are changing procedures in economy and administration. As a consequence, conditions of urban development change also in certain fields like planning, construction of buildings and infrastructures or in the management or renovation of built structures. Facing the objectives of climate policies, new challenges for urban planning and most of all for spatial energy planning are arising. But at the same time, digitization should provide new possibilities for a necessary and sustainable energy transition.

On the background of institutional regulations and specific administrative procedures, this project addresses the following questions: Which flows of information or deficits exist in the respective phases of planning, construction and management/administration? Which actors are involved? Which new possibilities of information production are emerging and how does the flow of information change through digitization and provide new possibilities? Finally, which requirements are identified to establish a modern form of spatial urban energy planning?

Initial situation/status quo

Planning, construction and management/administration as well as changing use of buildings ask for a decision finding in a complex and changing environment during the different phases of a building's life cycle. Usually, different and changing actors with divergent interests are involved across these phases. Procedures in planning and construction are well defined and consistent through corresponding regulations. But the interfaces between the different phases are expected to be inconsistent because of the manifold actors along the lifecycle with divergent interests and objectives. Therefore, a comprehensive and well-structured flow of information should be guaranteed to enable an effective spatial energy planning strengthening the transition process.

Project contents and objectives

The predominant objective of this project is to provide a comprehensive overview of conditions and interrelations between administration, economy and planning and to elaborate the most important features and deficits in the flow of relevant information between the different phases.

Correspondingly, the project addresses the understanding of a modern and problem-oriented urban energy planning; identifies most relevant groups of stakeholders along the lifecycle with their specific interests and requirements on information respectively the deficits of information or interfaces; and finally, describes the requirements for a more effective urban energy planning enabling the transition process.

Methodical procedure

Empirical research focuses on Austrian federal states Wien and Salzburg accompanied by a steering group of experts. The following methods were applied:

  • analysis of secondary literature;
  • collection and evaluation of most important data available in digital form;
  • mapping the landscapes of actors;
  • expert interviews with focus on requirements on flow of data and corresponding deficits;
  • online qualitative interviews of steering group members.

Results and conclusions

An effective urban energy planning should be established urgently because of political agreements on reaching climate related goals. Most of all, strategies, instruments and projects enabling the energy transition should be established and enforced. In particular, greenhouse gas emission should be reduced, the share of renewable energy increased as well as the efficiency in energy use.

Since some years, new instruments have been established to improve climate protection. However, the fragmentation of regulation and competences across national, federal and municipal institution are jeopardizing all efforts of transition, more consistent regulations are necessary for improving strategy building and implementation.

High attention is concentrated on energy transition in new housing construction. The transition process is strongly weaker in the already built housing sector. Protection of data, constructional regulations and sometimes protection of historic buildings and monuments as well as high costs of rehabilitation activities are hindering increasing energy efficiency. Besides, fragmentation of competences, problems in the realization of rehabilitation activities, divergent interests of actors and respective conflicts are jeopardizing such transition processes. First steps toward an energy transition are done or on the way in strategic and legal terms on the level of neighborhoods' (quarters). The decentralized production and consumption of energy is enabled, the Clean Energy Package (CEP) of the EU enforcing neighborhoods transition is still not set into power but urgently needed.

There are clear breaks in the flow of information across different phases producing problematic information deficits for further actors in the run of the different life cycle phases, and in particular for spatial energy planning. Following most relevant deficits in data/information flow are detected in the new constructed housing sector: data on house-specific energy use by the energy providers; data flow between construction planning and construction realization; data about planned use of buildings and floors. In the existing building stock most of all data are missing regarding renovation and modernization measures of building and internal infrastructure.

In particular, the development of BIM technology (closed and open BIM) enables an accelerated accumulation of information and codified knowledge through digitization in the phase of construction. All involved actors are challenged to digitize their activities to produce a unified and well-structured data base. However, both BIM approaches should guarantee adequate interfaces for any additional actor and for the enhancement of the data base by new data sources.


From the perspective of spatial energy planning the following developments are important:

  1. Digitization of the periods of planning, of submission and project approval as well as of construction and management will provide enormous potentials of increased effectiveness across all phases of life cycles. However, to activate these potentials, a common understanding and definition of objectives is necessary and old-fashioned silo think in the management of data must be abolished.
  2. Well organized interfaces between planning and construction and management would strongly support energy planning strategies based on a problem orientated monitoring and on effective measures. To realize such a big step forward, the existing conflicts of interest of involved institutions (for climate protection or protection of buildings and monuments) and private actors (energy providers, construction enterprises) under competitive conditions must be met by governance efforts. In this context the organization and provision of relevant data/information in more or less aggregated form for each partner should also be enabled through modern and integrated data concepts under consideration of the GDPR.

Project Partners

TU Wien, Institut für Raumplanung
Forschungsbereich Stadt- und Regionalforschung

  • Univ.Prof. Mag.rer.nat. Dr.techn. Rudolf Giffinger
  • Senior Scientist Dipl.-Ing. Robert Kalasek
  • Univ.Ass. Dipl.-Ing. Florian Pühringer
  • Arno Brugger, BSc
  • Arthur Kammerhofer, BSc
  • Philipp Kerschbaum, BSc

TU Wien, Institut für Managementwissenschaften
Forschungsbereich Betriebstechnik, Systemplanung und Facility Management

  • Ao.Univ.Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Mag.rer.soc.oec. Dr.techn. Alexander Redlein