30 Energy Cities’ proposals for the energy transition of cities and towns

Practical proposals to accelerate the energy transition

Energy Cities is proud to present its Proposals for the Energy Transition of Cities and Towns . They constitute a source of inspiration to think and act differently and to finally turn our backs on non-sustainable practices that can only lead us to energy, climatic and possibly economic and social dead-ends.

A transition is a shift from an initial to a future state. For Energy Cities, the energy transition is a shift from a system dominated by finite (fossil and fissile) energy towards a (renewable) flow energy-based system. Such a shift will require simultaneously taking ambitious actions to reduce our energy use. It is our century’s challenge.

Political decisions made at European and national levels are indispensable to show us the way forward. Several countries have already decided to take decisive action along this path. It is, however, at the local level that the new energy paradigm is being invented, through a multitude of initiatives implemented by a wealth of private, public and associative partners. All have a common goal-the low energy city with a high quality of life for all- and most are from cities engaged in the Covenant of Mayors.

To accelerate the energy transition and based on its members’ practices, Energy Cities has organised its Proposals into five strategic areas:

  • Empowering local players,
  • Knowing our territories’ resources and flows,
  • Rethink financing solutions,
  • Inventing new local governance,
  • Urban planning as a way of reducing energy use.


In 2012, Energy Cities initiated a collective process aimed at making proposals to accelerate the energy transition of European territories. The 30 Proposals in your hands are the result of part of this collective work.

What makes these Proposals new?

These Proposals are based on the observation and analysis of hundreds of practical examples, all stemming from existing practices. Our intention is to make these practices “talk”, to convey their meaning and to show the path they are pointing at, sometimes without us being aware of it. The criterion for selecting these Proposals is straight forward and concerns their transforming capacity, that is, their ability to change the way we think and act. Specific attention has therefore been given to all aspects of innovation, including territorial governance.

These Proposals aim to “recreate society” through a subject which concerns us all, energy, and beyond this, to open avenues to the transition towards a more humane
economy, more attuned to the challenges of the century. A message of hope for Europe

1.Empowering local players

Proposals for developing territorial energy policies:

1.1 – Take local control of energy supply
1.2 – Unite all stakeholders in a local energy alliance
1.3 – Ensure public budgets integrate positive and negative energy externalities
1.4 – Co-create a long-term vision to shape all policies
1.5 – Eradicate local fuel poverty
1.6 – Lead by example by transforming municipal energy management
1.7 – Prepare an Energy Transition Action Plan
1.8 – Be part of regional, national and European networks to gain exposure to others’ experience

2. Knowing our territories’ resources and flows

Proposals for a global optimisation of territorial resources:

2.1 – Know the territory’s metabolism so as to optimise local potential and reduce the impact of human activities on the ecosystem
2.2 – Identify local energy potential in order to live within our means
2.3 – Prepare a local heat plan to match need and available resource
2.4 – Create and implement a territorial bio-waste action plan
2.5 – Make the best use of energy and material flows by encouraging synergies between players
2.6 – Make better use and share what already exists instead of always buying more
2.7 – Encourage the development of a more endogenous economy to increase territories’ resilience

3. Rethink financing solutions

Proposals for mobilising the financial resources, in particular of local stakeholders and citizens:

3.1 Keep money spent on energy near to home

3.2 Collect local savings and invest them in sustainable local energy projects

3.3 Integrate future energy prices in the economic calculations made prior to investment decisions

3.4 Dedicate human capacities in financial engineering

3.5 Set up financial structures dedicated to the energy transition

3.6 Channel spending towards local economies by means of a local currency

4. Inventing new local governance

Proposals to give dynamic to creativity and involve local stakeholders and citizens:

4.1 Create interface capacities between public authorities and the civil society
4.2 Establish cross departmental links to avoid silo mentality
4.3 Prove that it works and create a snowball effect
4.4 Give public visibility to motivated players and citizens
4.5 Raise opportunities for experimenting new practices to encourage their dissemination
4.6 Make arts and culture part of the energy transition process
4.7 Use town twinning as a springboard for energy transition

5. Urban planning as a way of reducing energy use

Proposals for energy-efficient urban planning:

5.1 Make planning system drive territory’s energy transition
5.2 Prepare an energy retrofitting plan for the whole building stock
5.3 Ensure that new neighbourhoods are “100%” renewable
5.4 Plan modal shift to sustainable transport
5.5 Transform railway stations into territorial structuring hubs
5.6 Design a street code to favour walking and cycling
5.7 Implement goods delivery schemes
5.8 Think commercial urban planning differently to improve quality of life