The official AREA 21 kick-off meeting at HafenCity University Hamburg, 15 – 16 November 2017, brought together project partners from across the Baltic Sea Region to actively discuss initiatives for their proposed energy improvement districts.

In the face of rapid urbanisation, resource inefficiency in urban areas with outdated infrastructure and building stocks presents a challenge for the achievement of national and international climate change mitigation goals.

AREA 21 seeks to address the problem of inefficient energy use at a district level. The kick-off meeting marked the beginning of the three year project up until the year 2020, which will foster stronger cooperation between stakeholders in energy provision and consumption. The goal is to develop tailor-made energy efficiency solutions for seven pilot areas located in Estonia, Finland, Germany, Poland, Russia and Sweden.

The project leader, Prof. Knieling introduced project partners to the concept of Energy Improvement Districts (EID) as an operational frame for enhancing energy efficiency and to be used in each of the pilot areas. Based on the framework of Business Improvement Districts, EIDs would similarly bring together private and public stakeholders, energy producers and consumers to share knowledge and foster commitment to improve energy planning and its implementation in the long-term.

Discussions at the kick-off meeting provided an important platform for organisational information going forward in the project work and supported the project partners to identify socio-political circumstances as well as collaborative goals and potential obstacles for initiatives for their EIDs. With its activities, the project will contribute to foster stakeholder engagement and collaborative processes in the strategic planning and implementation of energy solutions.