Leading by doing: How we built a greener Energy Cities

For three decades Energy Cities has been working to make cities greener and more sustainable. As leaders in sustainability we also strive to reduce the environmental impact of our own operations as much as possible.


We began with a strategic approach focused on the main sources of emissions in the EU: energy (28.2%), heat (25.8%) and transport (24.6%). Each represents about a quarter of EU emissions (Eurostat, 2017).

Green Energy

Since 2007 our head office in Besançon has been supplied by a green electicity provider and since January 2016 our Brussels office has been located in the ‘Renewable Energy House’ which also benefits entirely from green, renewable electricity.


Heat and Hot Water

The Renewable Energy House, which is shared with over a dozen eco-conscious organisations, exemplifies the best in modern renovation practices. Overall it emits just 57 kWh/m2/year (about a third of the Belgian average) – an outstanding result for a century old building. It does this with a fabric-first approach that prioritises insulation and efficiency and is complemented by photovoltaic panels, solar thermal collectors for hot water, four geothermal energy loops (115m deep), a 46 kW cooling tower and other low carbon technologies.


Transport

Transport can be subdivided into two different areas. On a day-to-day basis, both offices are located within an easy walk of high capacity transit lines (tram in Besançon and the metro in Brussels), financial support is provided to employees who use public transport and both sites provide bike parking and a financial incentive to encourage low carbon (and healthy!) biking.

As an international organisation with members in 30 countries, travel is a fact of life. Where Energy Cities can control the setting for international meetings and conferences, access to Europe’s high speed train network is one of the top criteria for selecting a location. For all travel the train is the preferred option. For the last ten years we have closely monitored all carbon emissions from travel and compensate (carbon offsets) those emissions.

Our choice of carbon offsets also supports our mission. By investing in the Jurascic energy cooperative we support renewable power and a decentralised energy system with citizens at its heart. In 2016 our contribution, along with contributions from 650 local citizens, helped launch the Chamole wind park.

Sustainability is something we live and breathe here at Energy Cities. A shared Energy Transition is part of our Vision and Mission so it should come as no surprise that there are far more initiatives, far smaller but no less important, that we incorporate into in every aspect of our working lives. From using only recycled, certified (FSC, PEFC) paper and flow reducers on faucets to avoiding plastic, and prioritising local, organic, vegetarian catering and low energy appliances, we are constantly looking to do more with less and minimise our impact on the planet.