Common Challenge

Cities with their vast building stock and infrastructure play a key role in reaching European energy efficiency targets. With approximately 75% of the EU population living in cities and urban areas, they account for large amounts of the current energy consumption and represent crucial spaces where the energy transition must take place.

Transforming the existing urban structures provides great energy efficiency potential. Yet, the transition towards low-emission cities is often hampered by sectoral fragmentation and lack of cooperation between public authorities, energy utilities and property owners. AREA 21 addresses these challenges and supports cities in the Baltic Sea Region to harness the full energy savings potential of existing structures, to elaborate holistic strategies that integrate sector-based approaches, and to engage energy consumers in strategic energy planning.

Aims & Objectives

AREA 21 + action follows up on AREA 21. In the predecessor project, the consortium developed the so-called EID concept (Energy Improvement District, see below). The energy actors in these areas, including the local and regional authorities, energy providers, building owners as well as citizens, have participated through the EIDs in a cooperative energy planning process. This resulted in the development of EID Strategies and Action Plans to support improved energy efficiency.

AREA 21 + action provides the frame in which first measures from selected EIDs can be implemented and the potential of the EID concept to contribute meaningfully to both integrated energy planning and emissions reductions can be demonstrated. Outputs of AREA 21 + action will first and foremost include demonstrated energy efficiency measures from the EIDs, as well as an Institutionalisation and Sustainability Framework for EIDs developed through a transnational evaluation of the institutionalisation process. Cooperation in the EIDs will be stabilized and strengthened through the installation of EID Coordinators who will act as the primary link between different EID stakeholders. Additionally, the EID Concept and ICT tools will be further communicated and disseminated.

While the individual actions within the EIDs target the locally relevant energy actors, their implementation is relevant for all Baltic cities and regions seeking to reach emissions reductions goals and to positively impact energy efficiency. Thus, these outputs are broadly targeted at policy makers, local and regional politicians, national and international agencies and the academic community beyond the partnership, responsible for urban/regional development, urban regeneration, energy transitions, strategic energy planning and climate mitigation.

Overall, AREA 21 + action aims to contribute to increased concrete actions towards energy efficiency for the Baltic region through the promotion of a tested concept for cooperative and integrated energy planning at the district level, the EID, through provision of specific guidance for the institutionalisation and sustainability of this instrument and through demonstration of successful and implementable measures for energy efficiency across several differing contexts

Energy Improvement Districts

The Energy Improvement District (EID) concept is an innovative system approach for low emission urban districts. It promotes a paradigm change from a strong public sector to a more cooperative model of development that involves also citizens and businesses. The concept facilitates the pooling of competences, ideas and joint activities between public and private stakeholders for energy efficiency planning and implementation. By promoting network and consensus-building activities it fosters identification of tailor-made solutions, piloting of new projects and establishment of both informal cooperation and formalized partnerships.The newly developed concept addresses the specific challenges and needs of European cities. It will be implemented as a framework within selected areas of partner cities and will offer the opportunity to involve public property owners and citizens as building owners and users in the initiation of energy efficiency measures.