sde21 Urban Research

Climate protection needs technology. But the best high-tech solution is of no use if people do not adopt it. Empowerment is therefore a core topic of the Solar Decathlon Europe 21 (SDE21).

Our research accompanying and extending the SDE21 strongly relies on the active involvement of citizens: Taking Mirke district in Wuppertal as an example, the Urban Research Team of the SDE21 investigates how local residents may get involved in urban climate protection and in promoting the transition towards renewable energies. ●

Matthias Wanner holding a presentation.

● © SDE21

The "Reallabor-Team" of SDE21

● © SDE21

The SDE21 office

● © SDE21

The SDE21 Real-world laboratory covers the following areas:

real-world experiments

Two real-world experiments on building efficiency and floor-space sufficiency. These experiments build on two opposing developments: enhanced efforts to improve energy efficiency of buildings, and increasing demands for living space. In Europe, per capita living space has been rising over decades, effectively nullifying savings made in the area of energy consumption. Both challenges need to be faced. Efforts to improve the energy performance of buildings through technical and architectural updates need to be intensified. At the same time, the reasons for increased use of space need to be understood so that alternatives can be developed.


Education is key for sustainable development. A range of activities organized by our Public Education Team will raise awareness among children, adolescents and young adults about issues such as the transition towards renewable energy, future living, improvement of building energy performance, and sustainable urban development. Taking the Mirke district as an example, we will make these topics accessible to young people in ways that are relevant to their lives and experiences.

Citizens’ Panel

The impact of our real-world experiments, our educational and public outreach projects, as well as the overall transformation of the district, will be assessed in a comprehensive longitudinal panel study. We will provide high-quality data regarding the transformation of a neighbourhood. Various socio-technical aspects will be covered.

urban research