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Sustainable Districts and Built Environment

The main challenge in ‘Sustainable Districts and Built Environment’ is to reduce energy use, environmental impact and carbon footprint, entail competitive industries for jobs and growth and at the same time ensure societal and social development and the well-being of citizens. The investment needed to improve energy efficiency, generate low carbon energy, modernize infrastructure and create high quality living environments is enormous. At the same time, cities have limited access to planned financial resources for systemic change, which requires the activation of private capital combined with public investment.

Currently our existing building stock plays a major role in energy consumption (40% of EU final energy demand). This stresses the need for affordable and sustainable retrofit solutions at a large scale. However, since buildings last several decades, it is essential to find energy efficient, low carbon solutions for new buildings and districts as well. The major challenge in this area is the scaling up of (new) solutions and materials.

Recognizing every city has its different surroundings, it is essential to combine requirements:

  • To give stakeholders (industry, cities, operators...) tools needed to take appropriate systemic or individual decisions and facilitate scaling up solutions by enabling industries to provide solutions that are fit for purpose and at the same time come with reasonable pricing and quality.
  • To provide the large scale launching ground needed for new concepts to test and unleash the market and to test and implement new financial products and models.

The starting point of the actions is the building itself and the focus on using, combining and implementing on-the-market and near-to-market solutions. Not on reinventing the wheel, but cleverly combining and fine-tuning what is available to make it applicable at a large scale for existing as well as new buildings and districts. The focus however does not stop at the building – rather it addresses ‘place-making’ with people, in communities within cities.


Outcomes of the AC Meetings 2016

The Sustainable Districts and Built Environment Action Cluster Meeting on 22nd November 2016 was a clear reflection of the recent activities within the group. Over the past months, the AC has been consolidating its work, ramping up its activities – most notably with regard to the Positive Energy Blocks Initiative (which recently held a field visit to the HIKARI PEB in Lyon).

The agenda of the session reflected this increase in activity and the interest in examining Sustainable Districts from various angles. In recent months, the group has moved from being merely “technological” driven towards a more comprehensive, challenge-based approach which focuses (amongst others) on new-build, (deep) renovation while touching upon digital technologies (e.g. BIM), citizen-involvement, the regulatory framework and business/financial models and exploring subjects such as waste, water, nature-based solutions, biodiversity and urban agriculture.

In the coming months, it is expected that the Sustainable Districts and Built Environment Action Cluster will continue to expand its activities. More stakeholders will be engaged, a follow-up visit to HIKARI might be scheduled for spring 2017 and a challenge-based approach might be formalised and further implemented.

Find out the presentations, minutes and videos of the Sustainable Districts & Built Environment meeting.


Our ongoing initiatives


Small Giants

Positive Energy Blocks


Get in contact with the Sustainable Districts and Built Environment Action Cluster at


Through our benchmarks and a open (and big) data structure we provide full transparancy for members, auditors and citizens. 

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by Paul Mathieson (Paul Mathieson)
at 15:27, 11 September 2015

'Southend-on-Sea Borough Council (SBC) will use Smart Cities as a framework to achieve sustainable economic growth, reducing demand for energy across all sectors. 

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by José María Diez (José María Diez)
at 10:16, 28 January 2015

Asociación Red Española de Ciudades Inteligentes (RECI), Spanish Smart Cities Association, is an Association created under the public law in Spain in June 2012, and officially approved by the Spanish Internal Affairs

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Wansdronk initiated the Key to Innovation 'Zeroenergy buildings with lowexergy storage'.

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by Piermichele La Sala (Innovagritech Srl)
at 17:08, 25 November 2014

The consortium’s partners are representatives of both urban and rural municipalities, industry, local stakeholders and research world too.

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by Serguei Golovanov (golemit) at 22:05, 7 December 2016

Our team prepares the RDI proposal for H2020 calls related to smart sustainable governance.

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by Serguei Golovanov (golemit) at 11:03, 10 November 2016

Smart City Monitor team invites everyone who is interested in city cluster projects supported by structural funds, Horizon 2020 and other existing financial instruments at the national and international levels by learining novel approaches to SCC management and governance in pr

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by Serguei Golovanov (golemit) at 14:06, 20 June 2016

We invite forward looking innovative municipalities to join existing consortium of cities for H2020 CPS Labs call, the deadline is on 22.06.2016.

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Interview - Sustainable Districts Action Cluster Meeting 21st May 2015

Interview - Sustainable Districts and Built Environment Action Cluster Meeting 13th February 2015