Renewable heating remains an underdeveloped industry, with more than 80% of the EU’s heat and hot water production still reliant on oil and gas.
District heating systems represent low hanging fruit, offering opportunities for the integration of renewables on a large scale. However, financing is often a problem. Substantial public investment is usually required to carry out such transformations, which limits uptake.
The EnSURE project - Energy Savings in Urban Quarters through Rehabilitation and New Ways of Energy Supply – created a ‘Manual of Energy Efficient Urban Development’ to help cities develop integrated SEAPs. The project, a cooperation between partners in Germany, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia and Poland, was implemented through the INTERREG IVB Central Europe Programme, and co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.
The project sought to develop integrated urban development strategies, based on tested knowledge, that consider a wide range of environmental, ecological, economic, social and cultural factors.
Pilots were carried out in participating cities to test and evaluate refurbishment techniques as well as energy supply measures such as local and district heating, combined heat and power and the use of renewables. Coordination of the testing ensured that various techniques and building typologies were included in the pilots, with the results providing a set of best practices for the manual.
EnSURE recognised that energy efficiency approaches can only be implemented via a participative process involving all relevant stakeholders. Strategies to motivate and integrate owners and tenants, energy providers, municipalities and housing companies in the urban regeneration process were developed and included in the manual. Physical and virtual ‘info points’ were created by the participating cities, promoting sustainable practices, engaging the public and raising consumer awareness.
Recommendations for financing were also included in the manual. Seeking public grant funding for demonstration, using performance based-specifications and providing demand subsidies are all suggested, with the added value of cooperation, for example from setting up a public-private partnership, also being highlighted.
In addition to the manual, EnSURE circulated a separate booklet of best practices emanating from the project, as well as a series of EU, national and regional policy recommendations for regulation and standards.
The project oversaw the publication of SEAPs in five of its participating cities, leading to their admission to the Covenant of Mayors.
As many of the cities in Central Europe face similar problems, transnational cooperation is highly valuable for exchanging knowledge, networking and fostering common learning. By monitoring comparable data and promoting information sharing the partner cities maximised the impact of their pilot results, enabling the identification of generic challenges and proven best practices.
The explicit focus on producing a manual, to summarise the entire process of energy efficient urban development for those with little experience in that field, was very beneficial. The easy-to-read document is ideal for small or developing cities that are at the beginning of this transition.
The manual will be of interest to city-level policy makers across Europe, with much of its content equally applicable to regions outside of Central Europe. The production of similar manuals, for other sectors or regions, could be replicated. By explaining in a methodical, step-by-step way how a successful policy is developed and implemented, these manuals could be particularly useful in new or complex policy fields, or for inexperienced policy makers. The policy is estimated to be level 9 on the GML scale.