URBAN LEARNING - Integrative energy planning of urban areas
Collective learning for improved governance

City Facts and Stories

This section provides examples of successful stories among partner cities – be it in form of an upgraded process, or more concrete project. The provided stories give an example of how did partner cities tackle its challenges which vary from managing stakeholders and improving collaboration and coordination among them to improving pre-implementation planning process.

The section also offers factsheets for all partner cities with most valuable information in order to provide background information for better understanding of each partners’ specific situation.

Amsterdam / Zaanstad


Gathering different stakeholders involved in urban planning projects to include energy into their reflections

The participation of Amsterdam and Zaanstad in the Urban Learning project contributed significantly to a better understanding of possibilities to integrate energy in spatial planning.

The members of the Local Working Group Amsterdam/Zaanstad, mostly project managers, were involved in urban planning/development projects, but were not familiar with energy issues. Energy used to be dealt with by civil engineers, and only at the end of a project. During the LWG meetings they learned much about energy issues, the possibilities to integrate them in their projects including the legal aspects and what is needed to make them get more attention, also at an earlier stage.

The Urban Learning project has improved the understanding of the urban planning process as well, especially for the project team of Amsterdam/Zaanstad, that worked out the urban development process for two different situations (tendering procedures and negotiating anterior contracts). The mapping of these processes shows various possibilities to introduce and integrate energy in the spatial planning process. These governance maps have proved convenient in involving dfferent stakeholders; both within the municipal administration and outside (for example in the grid company).

The meetings with other UL-cities and their mappings of governmental processes, instruments and tools and technical solutions have brought up new ideas and contributed to a sharing of knowledge and better documentation.

This goes also true for Leiden, the inner circle city. Since they work under the same legal system as Amsterdam and Zaanstad, their experiences with the Environmental law are inspiring and practically helpful.

Energy strategy for urban planning projects to be adopted at the city level

Especially the mapping of the development process for new urban developments shows the opportunities for integrating energy in the planning process, and has proved to be useful in involving other stakeholders. It is revealing about the opportunities and restrictions of city administrations. In that respect, this energy strategy is an important instrument to meet the challenges on the way to becoming energy neutral cities.


Service Point “Energetic Neighbourhood Development”

The project work in Berlin was focussed on the building stock, promoting refurbishment of existing buildings and related infrastructure remains a difficult field of action for urban planners.

To address the building stock regarding energy actions, legal framework and obligatory planning instruments are not given to the desired extent. Therefore, the main incentive basically remains by providing consulting services to convince building owners and engage them to carry out energy actions, either on the building envelope and/or energy supply systems. Therefore, a strategic pre-competitive service offer might facilitate refurbishment actions in Berlin.

The preparation and integration of energy matters into urban transformation areas and projects is a complex topic and requires a basic understanding of planning authorities, on the city level but in particular on the district level in Berlin.


In order to support the planning authorities in identifying potentials for integration of energy matters and initiate the process for Energy Neighbourhood concepts it is suggested to establish a so called pre-competitive “Service Point for Energetic Neighbourhood Developments”. This Service Point or centre takes over a strategic role and points out interfaces between different planning instruments and processes in a way that “windows of opportunities” to integrate energy on local quarter level is being considered early. A close consultation and coordination process with public and private stakeholders is required.

The Pre-competitive service offered by the service centre "Energetic neighbourhood development" is intended to support competitive performance, e.g. energy consulting, HOAI services etc. (no competition offer!). This includes in particular the initiation of Energy Neighbourhood concepts which are considered as an important base to carry out energy actions on local level. These concepts are strategic concepts which also refer to existing activities such as urban transformation zones, funding schemes and in some cases the adjustment or drafting of building regulation plans (e.g. densification actions). The development of such a pre-competitive support and planning approach has also lead to the integration and consideration in the Berlin Energy and Climate Protection Programme as a central action to be carried out in the long-term.

Energy framework concepts to be established as regulatory pre-condition

The project findings and local working group meetings have also led to the increased consideration of energy matters in new building developments within the project duration. This has led to the discussion to establish energy framework concepts as part of urban development of new urban quarters, which are foreseen in 11 main urban areas in Berlin.

As part of the development of e.g. three potential new housing and living areas in the North-East of Berlin in the District of Pankow and an urban area Lichterfelde, the investigation of energy supply systems as part of the development is foreseen. For the respective development areas, the building regulation plans have partly not been elaborated yet. Before any crucial decisions on density, orientation, energys supply systems etc. of buildings and infrastructure is being made, the energy concepts should provide a framework to decide the most appropriate solution to provide sufficient and affordable housing, taking into account environmental aspects, which might go beyond legal framework (e.g. energy standards of buildings, share of RES). This includes for instance the investigation on technical solutions such as waste heat, solar plants on open space areas etc. The process and the results of the investigation will be compiled to draw conclusions for other new development areas (e.g. in form of a guideline for urban planners in Berlin on city and district level) and disseminated among the relevant urban planning departments to increase know-how capability for integrative energy planning. The establishment of energy framework concepts has also been addressed in the Berlin Energy and Climate Protection Programme (as main action programme in Berlin), thus UL results can provide a base to continue required actions in the mid- and long-term in Berlin.


Gathering different stakeholders involved in urban planning projects to include energy into their considerations

The participation of Paris in the Urban Learning project contributed significantly to the inclusion of energy matters into urban planning projects.

Firstly, it was an opportunity to gather different stakeholders involved in urban planning projects to include energy into their consideration. In Paris, many city departments are involved in urban planning projects but they did not hold meetings on energy issues. The structure created for carrying out Urban Learning, the Local Working Group (LWG), was a good opportunity to gather officers from these departments. They started working together and cooperating to include energy issues into urban planning processes. Recognizing the importance of such a cooperation, the General Secretariat of the City of Paris is willing to maintain this group after the end of Urban Learning. This sharing of expertise and cooperation will therefore be applied to all urban projects.

Secondly, Urban Learning provided a better understanding of the urban planning process. In WP4, the LWG has succeeded in mapping a “typical” Parisian urban development process. For the first time, city departments involved in urban projects were able to understand the urban planning governance globally. Thanks to this governance map, the LWG identified several key moments for enhancing the consideration of energy issues in urban development projects.

Urban Learning also provided a better knowledge of existing instruments and tools to integrate energy issues in urban planning. Whereas stakeholders were generally aware of the existence of tools and instruments, their relevance and effectiveness was not always clear. Moreover, this analysis has shown that relevant and effective tools are not used because of lack of resources (time, money, skills…).

Energy strategy for urban planning projects to be adopted at the city level

Finally, yet importantly, Urban Learning findings and results pushed energy issues related to urban planning higher on the local political agenda. Indeed, elected city representatives have become more aware of this issue. Therefore, it is likely that an energy strategy for urban planning projects at the city level will soon be adopted.




   Improved governance process for actors involved in urban- and

   energy planning.

    The function of the Urban Learning LWG, Local Working Group, has given the

    representatives from different city administration an opportunity to discuss the

    process for energy integration in the development projects, with the starting point in the

    process for the Royal Seaport project. During the project, the LWG

    has investigated how this process can be transformed and expanded to the whole City.

    This expansion to the whole city implies maintaining the LWG function

    even after the end of Urban Learning project.

    The mapping of the process and its relevant technologies, instruments and tools has led to

    increased understanding for all the involved departments and has

    also pinpointed some gaps where to improve the integration of energy. Workshops on this

    subject with external actors has helped to get input to further

    analyse their respective role in the process.


Together with the ICC, meetings have been held addressed to the primary regional urban development sites. The meetings have been the starting points to develop energy strategies for each area and to discuss energy related development across city borders.

New RND projects on energy integrated urban design

The involvement in the Urban Learning project has also lead to three new RND projects on the subject of energy integration and cityplanning. The first one was focusing on a systematic energy study for the Loudden area in the SRS project. The second one is focused on finding a suitable method to analyse the energy demand and RES production capacity on building level in the early stages of the planning process. The third project is an INTERREG application through the ICC called Smart Edge which will focus on the role of smaller cities within a metropolitan area in a low-carbon economy. How can development and growth in edge cities reduce carbon emissions of the metropolitan area?


Energy has become more relevant within the city administration in the last several years. However, cooperation between all relevant departments and a good understanding of the planning process by all stakeholders was only in its beginning stages. Before Urban Learning had started there had been no systematic integration of energy in the planning process. It had only been discussed in some pilot projects. The participation of the City of Vienna (Energy Planning Department in cooperation with other departments) in the URBAN LEARNING project was a booster towards integrative energy planning on a city-wide basis.

This group (called Local Working Group) consisting of several different departments and stakeholders began its work by analysing the urban planning process and developed the urban planning process map. an added benefit was that this process also helped to increase cross-departmental understanding of urban planning processes. Based on experiences in the fields of green space and mobility, the process map was further developed. It is a good basis to discuss where in the process which criteria, decisions, stakeholders, instruments or tools have which type of effect. An additional result was that the participating departments have a better understanding about the relevance of energy in urban planning projects and the need for cooperation, especially if they take climate issues and Paris objectives into account.

All the discussions and recommendations from URBAN LEARNING were integrated in the activities and working groups that are now developing the thematic concept “Integrative Energy Planning” as part of the Urban Development Plan (STEP 2025). That also lead to a closer cooperation with the energy provider and the grid operator. Furthermore, it also is connected to other projects including the EU projects SMARTER TOGETHER or TRANSFORM.

The information of the activities of the URBAN LEARNING cities within the City of Vienna strengthens support from the political level.

Finally, the impact of URBAN LEARNING introduced or strengthened a lot of activities towards integrative energy planning which will last beyond the project period.


Cooperation with energy companies

According to the applicable law, Warsaw as the municipality is responsible for the supply of heat, electricity and gas fuel. However, most energy companies active in the area (including all large ones) are in private hands and independent of the city authorities. So, proper operation of energy systems and conducting of energy planning in Warsaw depends on the good cooperation of the city with energy companies.

Because of that we have invited some representatives of the most important energy companies operating in Warsaw to participate as partners of the Urban Learning Local Working Group. A representative of the district heating company took part in a study visit to Copenhagen in November last year. In turn, a representative of the company producing heat and electricity in CHPs is to take part in a discussion panel at the conference in Berlin in early June 2017.

The Ministry of Energy is conducting consultation on the new law on electric mobility. In this case, we are constantly in touch with the representatives of the electricity distribution operator, which is also our LWG partner.

In addition to that we are conducting consultations on the Assumptions for plan of supply with heat, electricity and gas fuels for the City Warsaw. The information in the data bank of Assumptions is verified on a regular basis. Due to frequent contacts with our local partners, consultations with major energy companies on the Assumptions are well ahead of schedule. This is very beneficial for speeding up the process of final adoption of the Assumptions by the City Council.

All these close contacts were significantly assisted by cooperation within the framework of Urban Learning.




see Amsterdam above


Energy planning guidelines - proposal

Energy transition and energy planning is very complex issue that tackles many different fields of interest and different regulations. Even though the main actor to define the regulative framework surrounding the energy transition is the state administration there is a possibility to influence urban planning procedure and emphasize energy planning issues.


As a result of this project, we will suggest to the City Assembly to adopt Guidelines for integrative energy planning and to initiate Pilot projects for refurbishment and retrofitting of existing neighbourhood built before 1987.

The main goals for integrative energy planning guidelines are reducing the use of fossil fuels, reducing CO2 emissions, reducing energy consumptions, increasing energy efficiency, an increased use of RES, refurbishment of the existing urban fabric (neighbourhoods built before 1987). Those goals need to be divided into at least two levels, strategic – long term and operational - short term (bridge the gap between energy strategic docume

nts and action plans and urban planning documents). The guidelines should also define the following needs:

  • (overall) long term energy strategy;
  • establishing short term goals – transition, priorities;
  • establishing set of indicators (sustainability – connect with climate and environmental goals);
  • data collecting;
  • establishing energy planning and monitoring body or department;
  • legislation harmonisation on city and state level (energy, environment, urban planning, mobility, providers, distributors…)
  • drafting urban and energy study for urban planning documents

Urban and energy study - proposal

Outputs of an Urban and energy study of refurbishment and retrofitting of existing neighbourhood built before 1987 should be based on the following analyses:

  • analysis of pre-existing condition in the area: inhabitants, public space, building stock, GHG emissions, mobility, urban green space etc.;
  • identification and mapping of specific type of users in the area – number of inhabitants, number of households, building typology (age, materials, systems),
  • identify specific type of users in the area and benchmark energy demand and energy saving potential, analyse savings and set targeted benchmarks, set minimum binding and additional saving targets, provide info on RES use potential for specific uses, prepare mapping of energy demand intensity and energy saving potential intensity to define most appropriate areas to target activities.
  • possibilities of developing the climate neutral part of the city and use of RES;
  • possibilities of innovative technology and solutions (grid-district heating and cooling or single solutions, dynamics etc.);
  • different scenarios – models of energy supply and demand with project data of GHG emissions;
  • different mobility scenarios – project data of GHG emissions;
  • inhabitants (motivation for energy efficiency behaviour);
  • financial and dynamic framework conditions (feasibility);
  • monitoring indicators etc.

An urban and energy study can also anticipate urban planning document for new development.