Introducing the obligation for heating and cooling planning with appropriate support for municipalities 

Inspiration from the Netherlands, Scotland and Baden-Wurttemberg

The European Commission proposed in the recast Energy Efficiency Directive to make heating and cooling plans mandatory for municipalities above a threshold of 50 000 inhabitants. While some Members of the European Parliament are in favour of lowering the 50 000 inhabitants threshold, the European Council, unfortunately, sticks to the proposed one and is reluctant to give municipalities extensive technical and financial support. Therefore, Energy Cities, has drafted 2 factsheets to explore the best practices to introduce and implement this measure of mandatory heating and cooling plans for municipalities.  

The factsheets focus on the recent experiences in Scotland, The Netherlands and the German region of Baden Württemberg, and draw on the long-term experience of Danish municipalities. In these three cases, similar measures have been introduced in states where there was no developed tradition of planning at the municipal level. This dynamic contrasts with Denmark, where planning has been part of the municipal landscape since the 1980s. 

The first factsheet focuses on the legal obligation itself (threshold, scale, objectives, timeline, legal mandates), while the second factsheet details good practices in terms of financial and technical support to make the drafting and implementation of these plans a success.  

The factsheets also highlight the need to have the appropriate number of employees in municipalities or energy agencies to draft and implement this plan. Energy Cities has published a study “Human capacity in local Governments: the bottleneck of the building stock transition” which states that 214 000 extra local Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) positions will be required for the EU in average for the period   2022 and 2030 or about 2,5 FTE per year in each local government to achieve the 2030 building decarbonisation targets. This would require 16 billion EUR investment per year in average for this period in the EU. Energy Cities and its partners published a manifesto open for signatories on this question: visit the website here (available in FR, ENG, PL, IT, ES, DE)  

These factsheets are intended to be:  

1. Tools on which European decision-makers can rely to finalise the law, adopt supportive wording and give guidance for the implementation 

2. An inspiration for the Member States to implement similar measures 

3. A resource for municipalities and subnational governments that will be affected by this obligation and wish to ask their regional or national administrations for similar support mechanisms. 

To go further on the local staffing gap regarding planning :

  • Read the article – Give cities the staffing means for their climate ambitions:
  • Join the webinar – How to give cities the staffing means for their climate ambitions?, on 4 July!