Urban homes turn green in Baltic Sea Region

One of the biggest consumers of energy and producers of CO₂ emissions in Europe is residential housing. With a changing climate and energy sources struggling to keep supplies going, the recently launched Urb.Energy project aims to encourage greater use of renewable energy, offer innovative funding schemes for related activities, and introduce five strategies for integrated urban development, including guidelines and manuals.

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“Urb.Energy offers many benefits for homeowners, tenants and housing associations, including more energy-efficient buildings, an attractive residential environment, intelligent financing and management instruments, and significant cost savings for users.”
Peter Busch, Brandenburg Ministry for Infrastructure and Spatial Planning

Statistics show that buildings account for almost half of final energy consumption and more than 25% of CO₂ emissions across the European Union, hence the importance of introducing a process to reduce this level of consumption and instil a sense of environmental respect and responsibility. The Urb.Energy project, through the efforts of its partners, will result in a sustainable and holistic rehabilitation of residential areas in the Baltic Sea Region.

Broad spectrum of partners

Some 15 partners from Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Belarus, representing regional ministries, cities, housing and urban development associations, energy efficiency bodies and national funding institutions will work together to produce the integrated urban development strategies. They will be supported by a network of 20 associated organisations made up of national ministries, city and housing administrations, energy bodies, financing bodies, and owner and resident associations. Three transnational conferences, as well as seminars and workshops will provide forums for discussion, sharing ideas and strategic planning.

Cementing environmental concerns

The Urb.Energy project is based on three work packages: urban development, energy efficiency in buildings and supply infrastructure, and financial instruments. The integrated urban development concepts will be developed in such a way that they can become standard practice in other urban areas in the region. The partners will provide recommendations on how residential areas and infrastructure can be upgraded such that energy efficiency becomes a key feature of construction and urban development.  To ensure that all project partners work towards the same goals, a work package coordination team will play a leadership role and oversee progress.

Documenting the approach for wider use

Ultimately, the project will help make the region less dependent on the need to import energy and also provide protection from rising energy prices. Manuals will outline strategies for integrated urban development and ways to refurbish the region’s housing stock in terms of energy efficiency and energy supply systems. In terms of funding, guidelines will  set out ways to use innovative financial instruments from public and private banks.

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