AREA 21 representatives from the cities of Hamburg, Helsingborg, Kohtla-Järve, Lublin, St. Petersburg and Tartu came together for their mid-term project meeting in Tampere, Finland, from 11-13 March 2019. The meeting provided a lively platform for AREA 21 project discussions on stakeholder involvement in energy planning processes, on challenges, schedules and upcoming events. The meeting gave all participants the opportunity to discover several districts in the City of Tampere with newly trialed energy reduction measures.

A notable field visit was to Hiedanranta; an innovative new city district planned as a sustainable and smart precinct for an expected population of over 20,000 inhabitants. The district is an urban laboratory incorporating energy efficient solutions and impressive pilot projects including the heating facility Carbofex, which uses biochar as a raw material, and the vertical Evergreen Farm. The Evergreen Farm is an enclosed indoor system, which utilizes carbon dioxide that has been directed from the biochar facility. The successful efficiency of the closed cycle system has now been planned to extend to a larger residential scale in the district.

Another field trip undertaken was to the established district of Tammela, where major energy efficient residential renovations have recently been undertaken as part of the Horizon 2020 project “EU-GUGLE: Sustainable Renovation Models for Smarter Cities”. The project aims to demonstrate the feasibility of nearly-zero energy building renovation models in view of triggering large-scale, Europe-wide replication in smart cities and communities by 2020. The Tammela boasts illustrative examples of how this can be made possible.

During the meeting AREA 21 partners also visited the planned Energy Improvement District (EID) Härmälä. The pilot area is situated three kilometers south of Tampere’s city center and can be considered a “miniature version” of the whole city of Tampere with regard to ownership structures and the share of different functions. It comprises areas with newly constructed and older multi-family blocks, areas with older detached houses as well as industrial uses. Each part of the district is characterized by specific functions and needs when it comes to energy efficiency planning. In AREA 21, collaboration between local energy suppliers, property owners and tenants will take place with the aim to make improvements to energy planning at a district level. This effort will be complemented by the development and piloting of a digital tool that visualizes energy consumption of student apartments.

The Tampere meeting inspired further exchanges on the development of strategy ideas between AREA 21 partners. Despite the minus cool temperatures experienced over the meeting days, good conversations about inspiring topics kept the partners in good spirits, and eagerly looking forward to the next meeting later in the year in the German City of Hamburg.