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STEP UP sessions at All-Energy Glasgow May 2015




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Celsius Smart Cities Workshop- 16th September 2015

This interactive workshop will bring together excellence from several advanced European Smart Cities projects that will put forward their expertise and their project results on integrated planning, energy efficiency and district energy solutions, among others.

MSc Global Sustainable Cities Brochure

The Institute for Future Cities (IFC) has published a new brochure for the MSc Global Sustainable Cities.

On May 6th and 7th STEP UP sessions were held at the All-Energy conference in Glasgow. The first session featured political representatives from the four STEP UP cities who shared their experiences as local leaders championing the sustainable and smart cities agenda. They reflected on the importance of local political support for successful Sustainable Energy Action Plans, the common barriers to gaining this support, and solutions and strategies to overcome these which could be adopted by other cities.

Find the presentations here:

Tine Heyse, Deputy Mayor for the Environment, Climate, Energy and North-South, Ghent City Council 

Alastair Brown, Head of Sustainability and the Environment, Glasgow City Council

Katrina Folland Smart Cities Coordinator, City of Gothenburg

Vjaceslavs Stepanenko, Deputy Head of the Riga SEAP Management Board, Riga City Council

After a round of questions political representatives agreed that the two most important success factors for sustainable city planning are having brave and visionary politicians and citizen support.

In the second session, the STEP UP cities presented their action points, experiences and next steps regarding their enhanced Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs):

Sustainable Energy Planning in Glasgow – Gavin Slater

 Presentation downloadable here

Gavin gave an overview of the key outcomes for the whole STEP UP project including:

  • Enhanced SEAPs
  • Pipeline/innovative projects
  • Coaching/training of learning network cities
  • Approaches for integrated energy planning

Gavin then went onto describe the process behind an enhanced SEAP including the overall strategy and the baseline emissions inventory. The focus of the presentation then started to look at Glasgow and the challenges and progress made on the enhanced SEAP from the original Sustainable Glasgow Report delivered in 2010.

Glasgow’s CO2 emissions trends were discussed and a graph was presented showing that the current trajectory would not be enough to hit the 30% CO2 reduction target by 2020; therefore the enhanced SEAP includes a suite of new actions (to sit alongside some of the old actions). It was highlighted that transport emissions are on a steady decline in the right direction, however the industrial and residential sector follows the economic circumstances of the city and fluctuates markedly.

Glasgow has 33 actions in the new Energy and Carbon Masterplan (enhanced SEAP) and some of the actions/new projects were discussed, including Glasgow’s ESCo, LED street lighting, Waste-to-Energy plant (coming online in 2016), wind turbines and solar PV on vacant and derelict land, and integrated energy planning and working with Scottish Power Energy Networks.

Gavin then focussed on the innovative projects and their key elements for success:

  • Political leadership with a long term approach
  • Collaboration and dialogue with all stakeholders 
  • Contribution to multiple policy objectives
  • Business models to attract investment

The presentation then moved onto Glasgow’s lighthouse initiatives – Clyde Waterfront, Athletes’ Village and TSB Future Cities Demonstrator – developed with the above winning elements and the 3 dimensions of sustainability in mind.

The key findings of the STEP UP project for Glasgow were noted, including the importance of: 

  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Understanding city energy flows
  • Gap and issues analysis of existing plans
  • Developing projects that are integrated and have multiple benefits
  • Political support
  • Widespread, and frequent, dissemination
  • Sufficient resource to complete a SEAP and its actions

Gavin concluded his presentation by focussing on the next steps for Glasgow which include:

  • Establishing a larger City Energy Team
  •  Establishing the ESCo business case and presenting to the Executive Committee in June 2015
  • Monitoring and reporting on the 33 actions
  • Financing key projects

All the above can be found in the downloadable presentation above.

Ghent Climate Plan – Indra Van Sande

Presentation downloadable here

Ghent’s Climate Plan, or SEAP, was approved in January 2015. Through STEP UP, the SEAP was improved compared to the 2008 SEAP. It was built on several surveys, and on bottom-up stakeholder engagement which aimed to encourage empowerment of Ghent’s citizens. It is strongly and unanimously supported by the coalition City Council, with every Councillor responsible for the implementation of a part of the Plan. Within the scope of becoming climate neutral in 2050 and realising a 20% greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction in 2019 compared to 2007, the new SEAP will accomplish a 10.5% GHG emissions reduction between 2011 and 2019. Although there is a strong focus on GHG reduction and sustainable energy use the SEAP stresses cross-sector links and win-wins with themes such as sustainability in water consumption, clean air, sustainable and reduced use of raw materials, health, jobs and resilient economy.

Against this broad and deep sustainability background the presentation focused on the residential sector (housing), providing more detail on the why and the how of Ghent’s choices and actions. Ghent’s residential sector emits 24% of the city’s total amount of GHGs. If Ghent succeeds in doubling the renovation rate and implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy actions for new buildings these actions will realise an 11% decrease of the residential sector’s footprint. Doubling the renovation rate means that 3,500 renovations a year, within a total housing sector of 118,000 dwellings, are needed from now on. In Ghent this is an even bigger challenge because of the typically Belgian scattered dwelling ownership.

The presentation covered how Ghent is working to encourage renovations towards 70 kWh/m²/y and a doubling of the renovation rate for the existing housing stock, using the following strategy:

  • make people enthusiastic about renovation (with campaigns, easy-to-use web tools like a decision tree, …), 
  • make it easier (by offering free building advice, energy scans, …) 
  • and make it affordable (with cheap loans, subsidies, …)

Ghent’s strategy recognises that regular actions like energy subsidies don’t work on their own, and need to be embedded into a broader strategy of giving custom guidance to households. This is particularly true for socially deprived households, who require both higher subsidies and appropriate guidance.

Ghent’s presentation included an example of a new approach being integrated by the city; the ‘unburdening project’, through which citizens can get free practical help to implement a renovation measure like insulating roofs or improving the heating system. The City of Ghent provides a constructor and takes up the practical burdens of renovation. This ‘unburdening’ service aims to activate elderly people and other households who can afford a renovation but do not feel motivated to do so; in this case Ghent chooses to activate their capital instead of offering subsidies.

A further example was given, that of the support Ghent offers for social housing companies to speed up renovations, and stimulate NZEB in new city development projects. For these new developments a sustainability pre-check is used, based on BREEAM and LEED. It sets aims for several themes (including space, greenery, water and energy) and screens them in every newly proposed development project. The presentation also touched on the innovative elements of new developments, such as the Old Docks project which will provide energy from waste water and kitchen waste.

When developing the enhanced SEAP, Ghent still had to find leverage to realise a GHG emissions reduction of 10.5% to comply with the ambitions set. All SEAP measures together exceed this reduction target and the City of Ghent invests more than €105m in climate measures. As the total budget for this legislation was €500m this shows the importance the City Council attaches to the climate challenge. For more information on the themes covered in Ghent’s presentation, see Ghent’s Climate Plan which is downloadable here.

Climate Programme of the City of Gothenburg - Anna Svensson

Presentation downloadable here

Gothenburg’s presentation focused on the City’s Climate Programme, as well as the key lessons learned by Gothenburg partners during the STEP UP project. It acknowledged that city planners and developers need to be much more aware of the energy issues in a planning perspective, and that the STEP UP project has provided the City of Gothenburg with the opportunity to do so, to learn more and to develop a planning process which can integrate these energy issues in a better way. The city wanted to find and develop new tools to work with energy in urban planning, and to try new ideas and new ways to cooperate, within the city and with external actors.

Gothenburg’s Climate Programme is the city’s new enhanced SEAP, putting forward a consumption perspective which considers all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by the production of the goods bought by Gothenburg’s citizens, regardless of where the production of the goods takes place. Today the average emissions footprint of a citizen in Gothenburg is around 8 tonnes of CO2 equivalents per person per year. To reach the overall goal of a sustainable and fair level of GHG emissions these emissions need to be reduced to 2 tonnes per person per year. Gothenburg’s SEAP has 9 goals and 24 strategies setting out what needs to be done to reach that goal.

The presentation summarised a number of lessons learned by Gothenburg city partners during the STEP UP project, including:
  •  It is valuable to involve many stakeholders in the process since it improves the quality of actions and objectives; however, broad collaboration also takes a long time and can make the process more difficult.
  • It is a challenge to get commitment from other departments/stakeholders; it is hard to find people with the right skills, knowledge and commitment. 
  • It is a challenge to find the right level of ambition for objectives and actions, especially those that are attractive for many stakeholders.  
  • It is important to have well-prepared project management team in place before starting with your activities. 
  • It is important to communicate your work among your stakeholders and within your organisation during the process to make it as easy as possible for adoption. A fundamental piece is to make politicians well aware of what is going on and how the outcome will look.
  • Emission inventories and their follow-up are complicated but crucial; it is recommended to collaborate with knowledge institutes. 

Last but not least the presentation set out that it is important that a SEAP is nicely packaged, making it easier to read, understand and communicate. In the SEAP there are a lot of numbers, figures and diagrams, not all of which are very easy to understand; this makes it difficult to reach out with your message. For Gothenburg, a major breakthrough was made when the city administration in collaboration with the design bureau decided to make a picture of the emissions, visualised as a man filled up with the different sectors that generate GHG emissions. This has been a success in Gothenburg and when it is shown, discussions about emissions, sources and actions start immediately.


  The climate man; visualising the average CO2 emissions of a citizen in Gothenburg - 8 tonnes per person per year - and the city’s overall goal of 2 tonnes per person per year.

Riga’s SEAP for a Smart City – Inete Ielite

Presentation downloadable here

The presentation introduced the city of Riga, a lively Northern hub unlocked by railway, seaport, aviation and road networks and ambitions to fight climate change. Riga is a signatory of the Covenant of Mayors, and has set its CO2 emissions reduction target at no less than 55-60% by 2020 (1990 baseline).

Together with its city stakeholders Riga has established several aims to reach by 2030, including:
  • Compact and resource efficient;
  • Multicultural and tolerant;
  • Friendly for walkers, bikers and public transport;
  • Effective and client-oriented management;
  • In good cooperation with its agglomeration;
  • Providing varied, affordable and quality housing;
  • Ensuring excellent culture environment and creative inhabitants;
  • Developing vital neighbourhoods and protected cultural landscape;
  • With green corridors and accessible waterfronts;
  • With wise industrial policy; and
  • Successful, environment friendly port.

These aims are ambitious, requiring a lot of knowledge and skills, as well as cooperation and integration of technologies, at a scale that is more than challenging.

The work performed by Riga in STEP UP was based on the experience built up with the first SEAP which was developed together with Stockholm, Helsinki and Tallinn, supported by an INTERREG IV A grant and the INTERREG IV C project “Green IT Network Europe”, which is currently nominated by for the REGIO STARS AWARD 2015.

From its SEAP it is clear that Riga is eager to use ICT in energy and transport (16 best practice projects; and two already being implemented/transferred to other EU countries).The next step is to integrate energy, ICT and transport into large-scale projects.

The presentation set out how the city has benefitted from the partnerships and work in STEP UP, empowering the city and its stakeholders to address and plan innovative projects arising from strategic directions approved by the City Council in the enhanced SEAP.

Amongst the benefits of the project are:

  • Unique partnership with very creative and smart cities;
  • Research partners with expertise to be used;
  • Excellent management of the University of Strathclyde.

Finally the presentation reflected that Riga’s SEAP for a Smart City gives Riga and its stakeholders a mandate for cooperation and new initiatives, securing the necessary know-how, technologies and funding for the city. For the territories identified in the city as smart districts, multi-stakeholder platforms have been developed, and innovative projects are in the pipeline.

Q & A

As the sessions took place in the framework of the All-Energy conference, with a lot of representatives from businesses, the panel were asked about the role of private companies within SEAPs. The panel recognised that while the relationship is difficult – due to public procurement rules and generally different work culture – there is room for this cooperation and it is needed. Being proactive and setting up platforms can facilitate this road towards cooperation between public and private sectors.

The panel was also asked how the cities choose from the many different technologies available to them. In Glasgow the choice for renewable heat in the district heating networks which are being developed is quite obvious; district heating is a proven technology and once the grid is in place the next decision on the source will be duly made. The system is also being designed to be very flexible to avoid dependencies upon only a handful of private companies delivering the heat. In Gothenburg, district heating has been in place for a long time and now the city is taking the necessary measures for it to be completely fossil-fuel free by 2030. For pricing of heat Ghent will apply the framework ‘not more than otherwise’, making sure renewable heat users will never pay more than traditional natural gas boiler users.


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