Heidelberg - Sustainable Living for All

Assessment of the territories’ climate action


Association Climate Chance (Climate Chance)

Since 2015, the Climate Chance Association has been involved in the mobilization in the fight against climate change. It is the only international association that proposes to bring together on an equal footing all the non-State actors recognized by the UN. In order to strengthen their action and to give credibility to the climate stabilization scenarios, the Climate Chance Association launched in 2018 a Global Observatory of Non-State Climate Action, which aims to explain the evolution of greenhouse gas emissions, by crossing national public policies, with sectoral dynamics, private actors’ strategies, local public policies, and actions undertaken by the actors of the territory. In 2019, in order to analyse the coherence of local public policies, Climat Chance proposes 13 new case studies of cities and regions. Here, the case of Heidelberg (Germany - Baden-Württemberg).

To download : climate-chance-2019.pdf (1.5 MiB)

Governance and integration of climate policies

After an initial climate plan in 1992, the city of Heidelberg will adopt its «  Masterplan 100 % Klimaschutz  » in 2014, financed by a programme of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUB). This programme commits the community to formulate and implement a climate plan to achieve a 95% reduction in GHG emissions and a 50% reduction in energy consumption by 2050.

For its implementation, Heidelberg has expanded and given a central role to the Heidelberg Climate and Energy Protection Group ("~Heidelberg-Kreis Klimaschutz & Energie~"), which was formed in 2002 and consists of representatives from companies, associations, craftsmen, architects, universities, hospitals, the city, the army, etc. The group is composed of representatives from the public and private sectors. Citizen participation more specifically has been made possible with the holding of conferences on climate action, and a Youth and Climate Summit every 2 years bringing together some 20 participants. The 2017 assessment of the Masterplan considers that the mastery of the city’s energy choices, made possible by previous political choices, was decisive in adopting high-impact solutions and encouraging the support of all the bodies representing the city (Ifeu 2017).

Monitoring and evaluation of climate policy

The 2017 balance sheet shows a decrease in stationary CO2 emissions (excluding transport) of 7% between 1987 and 2015, while total final energy consumption increased by 6% and population by 12% over the whole period. As a result, the per capita intensity decreased significantly, by 18% from 7.1 to 5.8 tCO2/capita. These efforts did not result in a total decrease of 20 per cent by 2015 as initially targeted by the city. This assessment does not provide an update of consumption and emission data related to transport, which were estimated at 350 ktCO2 in 2010 (Masterplan100%, 2014).

On the implementation of the plan, in 2017 25 measures had already been completed in all the working groups, 50 measures were in progress, and 39 measures remained to be started.

Housing - 18 measures combining renovation and lifestyle

To reduce electricity demand, Heidelberg has adopted its own electricity consumption standards for new buildings as early as 2010 (66 kWh/m2 per year), and established «  conversion zones  » in 2016. Of these 180 hectares are required for new buildings to be passive energy, installing solar panels on the roofs, and providing a timetable for the renovation of existing buildings.

A significant part of these areas are social housing. Various projects are carried out with housing cooperatives representing 15% of the living space, many of which are from the period 1950-1970 : renovation, higher standards, renewable energies, etc. Heidelberg has subsidised 400 external wall and roof insulation projects within these cooperatives, representing a saving of 27 ktCO2 in four years. It also supports 400 low-income households to achieve energy savings. Finally, the city offers up to €12,500 in subsidies for the conversion of a passive energy house (Graczyk, 2015).

Heidelberg’s flagship project is the Bahnstadt district with 6,500 dwellings, which, when completed in 2022, will be the largest passive housing complex in the world with more than 100 hectares, an investment of €2 billion, and €300 million for infrastructure. Various techniques are being used to make the best possible use of natural ventilation, solar energy, rainwater, etc., and the project is expected to be completed by 2022. (C40, 2017).

In order to achieve the municipal objectives, the 2017 evaluation of the Master Plan by IFEU recommends further stimulating the thorough renovation of existing buildings, bearing in mind that heat supply accounts for about 70% of final energy consumption and half of CO2 emissions.

Energy - 2 major programs :

«  green heating  » and «  roof energy ".

The residential sector sees a decrease of about 20% in its emissions between 1987 and 2015, as well as a decrease in its final energy consumption, while the available per capita surface area has increased by 16%. As electricity emissions have increased (calculated on the basis of the national mix), this decrease is therefore more related to the production and use of district heating.

Since 50% of the heat demand of households and businesses in Heidelberg is supplied by the district heating network and operated by the municipal utility Stadwerke Heidelberg, the city can have a significant impact on energy decisions. The concept of «  green district heating , » developed by the municipality and the Environmental Protection Agency, has made it possible to achieve 20% renewable energy in the network within a short period of time. The Pfaffengrund wood-fired power plant supplies 14% of the annual requirement and saves 32 ktCO2/year, while four combined heat and power biogas plants supply 6%. Natural gas cogeneration provides the remaining 80%.

In the production of electricity, the focus is on solar power, through incentives, information or pilot projects. The «  Solarkampagne  » started in spring 2018 and targets builders, homeowners and condominiums.

It offers owners and tenants advice on energy efficiency, installation of solar panels, storage and financing, provided by consultants trained for this purpose by the Heidelberg Climate Protection and Energy Consulting Agency (Neckar-Kreis «  KliBA "), and the Heidelberg Energy Cooperative. The city has thus achieved its goal of equipping 7,000 households with solar panels by 2015.

Heidelberg finally strengthened its cooperation with a citizen energy cooperative and made it the energy supplier for a project involving 116 residents of a cooperative housing block equipped with 7 photovoltaic systems. The cooperative with the local grid operator and enable residents to self-consumer the energy produced on site at a favourable price and to purchase the necessary surplus energy from the grid (Energy Cities, Heidelberg, 2019).

Mobility - Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Area-wide Master Plan

Heidelberg has the highest share of cycling in the country with 26% of all trips made by bicycle, according to a national survey conducted in 2018. A total of 64% of journeys are made by bicycle, on foot or by public transport. Several measures have been taken within the framework of the Masterplan and the metropolitan plan to accelerate the modal shift and decarbonisation of vehicles :

In 2017, the cities of Heidelberg, Ludwigshafen and Mannheim jointly developed the «  Sustainable Mobility Master Plan for the City  » with the support of the local transport associations VRN and RNV in order to reduce traffic emissions in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region. As a result, in 2018, a project for a 22 km-long, intersection-free bicycle path connecting Heidelberg and Mannheim was launched, with the participation of Baden-Württemberg, the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region, and several districts (RNZ, 2018). This flagship project is accompanied by a multitude of ongoing connections within the city and with neighbouring municipalities.

However, Heidelberg’s CO2 balance will have to absorb the additional burden caused by the federal project to widen the A5 motorway affecting the Heidelberg urban area. In addition, just under a third of the traffic in Heidelberg is transit traffic, over which the city has relatively little influence.


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