Neighbourhood Demonstrators (N-DEMO)

Institute's role: Project lead

Aim: N-DEMO started with the premise that to deliver sustainable cities we need large scale and systemic innovation. Only by planning and investing systemically and at scale can we realise the efficiencies required to ensure widespread adoption.

The N-DEMO project used a set of real-world urban test-beds to demonstrate, evaluate and facilitate integrated and pioneering ideas. These ranged from new approaches to governance and asset ownership to technological advances. By working at a neighbourhood level, N-DEMO aimed to optimise community involvement and to develop pilots which could be replicated or scaled up.

Two cities participated in N-DEMO: Berlin, where activity focused on specific areas of planned investment in the city and London, where activity focused on enabling work in the Total Community Retrofit project.

Challenge: By 2050, 80% of the world population is expected to be living in cities. In order to make our future cities sustainable, we will need to make large scale and integrated changes. N-DEMO allowed opportunity for innovations to be demonstrated while dealing with two of the main challenges in delivering scale and systemic solutions: a lack of tools to support integrated planning and investment decisions and the need for business and financial models that enable partners to pool their interests and deliver different connected elements in an efficient way.

Activity: The London demonstrator was based in the East London district of Bromley-by-Bow and Poplar. Bringing together innovations in technologies, business models and social engagement, activity included:

  • developing strategies for maximising community involvement and engagement in a large scale project, giving residents opportunities to influence local development and to take advantage of social and economic benefits
  • co-ordinating multiple activities, including community owned infrastructure, home energy management systems, smart grids and building retrofit at scale in a live setting
  • collaboration on 3D visualisation and data-driven modelling in the demonstrator area to create a decision support package which encompassed a range of measures of a sustainable city: climate change, return on investment, sustainability and resilience, economic and social impact and well-being.

Activity in the Berlin demonstrator areas included:

  • climate envelopes (transparent enclosures covering buildings, facades or groups of buildings) as a way of improving energy efficiency and combating noise pollution
  • development and application of tools for assessment of feasibility, effectiveness and proficiency of geothermal heat supply
  • development of 3D visualisation and data-driven modelling tools to estimate energy and heating demand based on standard building typology, identify renewable energy potential and optimise smart grid scenarios for centralised and decentralised energy production in order to drive sustainable investments and enable district level decision making.

Institute partners: The Institute was joint lead partner in the N-DEMO project with TU-Berlin and TU-Munich. The other project partners were Imperial College London, GFZ Potsdam and Gasag.

Funders: The project was co-funded by the Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC), an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).


The N-DEMO project is run in partnership with TU-Munich. It is co-funded by the Climate-KIC.