Communications Networks, Content and Technology
European Commission Directorate General

Resource-Efficient Infrastructures

Resource-Efficient Infrastructures

Smart Cities & Sustainability (Unit H.5)

Our vision is to deliver the conditions for the take-up of ICT solutions that enable resource-efficient infrastructures to achieve the EU high level sustainability goals, in the areas of transport, mobility, energy, water and waste as well as ICT infrastructures such as data centres. Our aim is to help all stakeholders, along the value chain of these infrastructures, contribute to resource efficiency target stemming from EU and national policiies on Energy, Climate and Environment, while preserving or improving upon the quality of services delivered.


Current ICT solutions are sectro-specific and actions are required at sector-level including:

  • Promote the use of ICT-based solutions to optimize the mobility of people and goods across and between urban-centers.
  • Promote the use of ICT-based solutions to optimize Water and Waste Management Systems.
  • Support the use of iCT solutions to increase efficiency of energy systems and enable an integrated approach beyond the energy grids and into the built environment, as new applications arise from developments in the sector of "Internet of Things".

Above and beyond sector-specific solutions, our priority is to accelerate the development and deployment of ICT solutions that provide solutions that are cross-cutting sectors and/or offer an integrated approach to the shared resource-efficiency goals.


Regarding the enabling impact of ICT in the water and waste sectors: The water-sector is characterised today notably by the fragmentation of solutions (implementation within the sector itself on a case-by case basis, restricted geographical reach, and limited interoperability with other sectors - e.g. health, energy, transport - which undermines - among others - the development of integrated services and solutions in urban contexts) and the lack of interoperability across water national/international information systems. Regarding Transport infrastructures: Transport is a majorcontributor to greenhous gases (GHG) in Europe and the globe and its infrastructures are among the key determinants of final consumption of non-renewable energy. The potential for resource-efficiency gains is correspondingly large but efforts at optimization of the mobility of passengers and goods within and across infrastructures (inter-modality) remain underexploited. The complexity of challenges including the multi-factor importance of context (ex: intra-urban/inter-urban) invites a much larger treatment of ICT applied to Transport beyond automation. Regarding the enabling impact of ICT in the Energy Sector: The progressĀ on standards for smart grids is too slow. These can be tailored to demographics, local needs, individual habits, etc. Utilities are reluctant to modernise their infrastructures - often in the face of unclear business models. There is insufficient cross-sector dialogue on the possibility to exploit synergies that exist between infrastructures su as, for example, (passive/active)requirements for broadband and for smart grids. There is a need for faster and more substantial progress on standardisation in several ICT areas for the eventual roll-out of affordable Internet-of-Things solutions with a potential to fine-tune services to demand, thus reducing overcapacity and waste within and across number of networked infrastructures.

Horizon 2020


Full-Time Equivalent: 
Collaboration with other DGs or agencies:
300 million

Resource efficient infrastructures

  • Target:
    • 20% more energy efficiency in transport, 15% less road congestion, 10% more electric vehicles in Europe, 30% less road fatalities and 30% less injured persons in transport
    • 15% energy savings in public buildings and social housing, 15% peak reduction in the electric grid
    • Data centre prototypes (IT equipment and infrastructure), powered by 80% or more renewable energy (by mid-2016) and 40% less energy consumption
    • 20% less water consumption, 50% less energy use for water processing
    • 10% reduction of e-waste

Timeframe: 2020



Water consumption

Target 20% less water consumption (2020)

Energy consumption in public buildings and social housing

Target 15% reduction of energy consumption (2020)

Road congestion

Target Reduction of congestion costs by 15 % (2020)
Baseline 100 billion EURO annual costs (2014)

Electronic waste

Target 10% reduction of e-waste (2020)

Data centre energy supply

Target 40% less energy consumption & 80% use of renewable energy (2020)

Road fatalities

Target 22.100 persons (2020)
Baseline 28.100 persons (2012)
Current 26.000 persons (2013)

Energy efficiency in transport (lead indicator)

Target 95 grams of CO2 emissions per kilometer (2020)
Baseline 132 grams of CO2 emissions per kilometer (2012)

Energy use for water processing

Target 50% less energy use for waterprocessing

Peaks in the electric grid

Target 15% reductions of peaks (2020)

Share of electric vehicles in new registrations

Target 10% (2020)
Baseline 0,07% (2011)

Link to DG CONNECT's Top Level Targets

  • Europe 2020 - 3% of the EU's GDP should be invested in R&D, complemented by a future EU 2020 Headline Innovation Indicator
  • Europe 2020 - Greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by 20% compared to 1990. The share of renewable energy sources in final energy consumption should be increased to 20%. Energy efficiency should improve by 20%
  • H2020 - By 2020, one third of all Europe's ICT business investment in ICT R&D in the EU should come from companies created within the last two decades