A digital twin for urban infrastructure: Assessing the effectiveness of climate-related policies and actions

Urban areas are responsible for 75% of greenhouse gas emissions, while rising temperatures significantly impact their liveability. They represent a natural integrator of several systems, including energy, water, buildings, and transport. As a matter of fact, they represent the ideal setting for implementing a coordinated, multi-sectoral response to climate changes leveraging digitalization as a systemic approach.

UrbanTwin aims to develop and validate a holistic tool to support decision-makers in achieving environmental goals in Switzerland, such as the Energy Strategy 2050 and the vision of climate-adaptive “sponge cities”. This tool will be based on a detailed model of critical urban infrastructures, such as energy, water (both clean and waste), buildings, and mobility, and their inter-dependencies while considering underlying socio-economic and environmental factors. It will accurately simulate the evolution of these coupled infrastructures under various climate scenarios and assess the effectiveness of climate-change-related actions beforehand.

The proposed tool will be applied to two specific case studies: (a) the sustainable transition of municipalities considering proper local resources valorization and optimal infrastructure deployment, and (b) the assessment of climate change-related policies’ effectiveness considering critical infrastructure resilience, supply security, and the transition pathway thereto. 
The project brings together forward-looking research developed by partners from 5 different institutions of the ETH domain, namely EPFL, ETHZ, WSL, EMPA, and EAWAG, representing the engineering, environmental, and ICT communities in a balanced way. The project will actively involve local stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of the proposed interdisciplinary decision-making tool. Moreover, professional science outreach, communication, and scientific project management are assured through four EPFL centers, namely, the Center for Sustainable Cloud Computing (EcoCloud), the Energy Center, the Center for Climate Impact and Action (CLIMACT), and the Center for Intelligent Systems (CIS).

Participating ETH Domain institutions