Cities given platform to achieve energy efficiency
European researchers have launched an online platform to help city planners achieve energy efficiency and carry out effective sustainable planning.
New products and technologies
Developed through the EU-funded PLEEC (Planning for Energy Efficient Cities) project, the platform provides information and resources to guide city planners interested in developing their own Energy Efficiency Action Plans (EEAPs) in order to help meet EU climate goals. The platform shares the experiences of six project partners who have developed their own EEAPs, and provides step-by-step guidance for others on what needs to be done.
Developing city-specific EEAPs
For example, the platform begins with information on how cities can first achieve an agreement on developing an EEAP. Key points include getting political support, cooperating across departments and providing strong arguments for putting in place an EEAP. Getting a positive decision to develop an EEAP means explaining why resources should be directed to this instead of something else.
The platform then provides advice on how to prepare for the EEAP and how to engage stakeholders. At the end, there is a checklist of what to think of when writing the EEAP.
The publication of the six EEAPs from cities involved in the project – Stoke-on-Trent in the UK, Eskilstuna in Sweden, Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Turku and Jyväskylä in Finland and Tartu in Estonia – is another key result. These EEAPs are the result of three years of collaborative work, and are based on the findings of a smart city analysis that was carried out through the project.
These smart city analyses sought to support forward-looking and evidence-based strategic planning approaches. They began by identifying the most relevant ‘assets’ and ‘deficits’ in each city’s energy efficiency performance, and carried out benchmarking across key fields.
The analyses also helped to identify cities with similar profiles, where good practices could be shared. The PLEEC platform provides the perfect facility for achieving this long after this project has been completed.
The importance of thinking local
Another key finding of the project has been that understanding local conditions in different cities is vital to developing successful EEAPs. While actions cannot simply be copied from one city to another, the consortium did find that sharing experiences can help cities identify their own path towards a more energy efficient future.
All this means that cities now have a resource at their fingertips to help them become smarter and more energy efficient. The energy efficiency potential in cities has not been fully realised. A key goal of the EU’s 20-20-20 strategy is to improve energy efficiency by 20 % by 2020, and while individual strategies and approaches can address separate aspects – such as thermal insulation and greener transport –coordinated strategic planning is needed to have a long term sustainable impact.
The PLEEC project, which was officially completed at the end of March 2016, has addressed this challenge by bringing together 18 partners that included municipalities, universities and industries. Through connecting scientific excellence and innovative enterprises in the energy sector with ambitious urban areas, the project has delivered an important tool that will help other cities contribute towards achieving EU energy efficiency goals and bring benefits to citizens.