Energy Cities proposition 29 - Prepare an energy retrofitting plan for the whole building stock

Urban planning as a way of reducing energy use


Energy Cities l’association européenne des autorités locales en transition énergétique

Energy Cities is a network of more than 1,000 cities in 30 different countries. Convinced that energy transition is more than a question of renewable energy or advanced technologies, Energy Cities proposes to use resources in a reasoned way, to strengthen local participation and to improve the quality of life in a democratic Europe. In 2014, the network presents 30 proposals for the Energy Transition of Territories.

They are a source of inspiration to think and act differently. To finally turn the page on unsustainable practices that lead us into energy, climate and perhaps economic and social dead ends.

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Energy Cities proposition 29 - Prepare an energy retrofitting plan for the whole building stock

The problem at hand

A city is made up of a multitude of buildings, not just those belonging to the local authority whose management has to be exemplary. Blocks of flats, detached and semi-detached houses account for around two thirds, with the last third consisting of tertiary buildings: public or private office buildings, hotels and restaurants, shops, leisure centres, hospitals and health centres, secondary schools and universities. A city’s building stock accounts for around 50% of its energy use.

These buildings are extremely diverse. Some are very old, even historic, whilst others are more recent and their thermal quality may vary from 1 to 10.They may be occupied by owner-occupiers, landlords or tenants. The spectrum of possible management and decision-making systems is extremely vast and the solvency of owners is variable, as is their sensitivity to energy costs.

And using the very generic term of “buildings” just adds to the confusion.


Prepare an energy retrofitting plan for the whole building stock of a territory covering the entire “building” sector so as to have an overview of the stock’s condition and the diversity of its energy features.

The plan should specify the energy, economic, social and financial challenges that have to be met in order to reach a “factor 4” trajectory by 2050. This means defining the level of stakeholders involved so as to integrate their decision-making processes and propose adequate energy retrofitting instruments.

Conditions for success

  • Considering including players in the preparation phase of the plan which is to be much more than just a collection of physical data.

  • Not trying to “do everything at once” but prioritizing the actions of the retrofitting plan, based on a multi-criteria approach (fuel poverty, age of the building, symbolic value, etc.).

  • Evaluating the job creation potential of the plan in terms of quantity and quality.

  • Considering that the local authority cannot do everything; it creates a favourable framework in the territory and acts as a conductor.

  • Co-ordinating actions with national schemes where they exist.


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