Summary

Heidelberg is at the forefront of environmental protection in Europe and has cut CO2 emissions by over 15,000 tons per year in municipal buildings since 1993. The city has developed a comprehensive energy management system for local authority properties and has been involved in a wide range of projects for sustainable development.
From 1993-2004, CO2 emissions from municipal buildings and university facilities (1999-2002) were reduced by 35% and 13% respectively. The city uses civic forums to ensure community participation and aims to cut CO2 emissions by 20% before 2015.

What is it?

The 2004 Climate Protection Plan and 2004 Energy Strategy lay down mandatory standards for buildings that far exceed national requirements. All of the city’s targets are developed in consultation with local stakeholders through the “Heidelberg Climate Protection and Energy Circle”. The city has achieved numerous international awards.

How does it work?

The Heidelberg Energy Saving Regulation aims to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy in new and retrofitted buildings. One initiative with new solar thermal modules on rooftops has saved 320,000 kWh of heat since 1993; other solar thermal installations totaling nearly 5000sq metres are used for public swimming pools. Developers must ensure that non-municipal buildings have high levels of energy efficiency, in order to receive planning permits. Some developments are completed with heating requirements far in advance of the city’s official requirement for new housing.

Application

Heidelberg has a history of using civic forums to make decisions. The city sets up a forum and prepares the agenda and minutes – all stakeholders have the right to put an item on the agenda. Working groups and roundtables for individual projects or actions meet regularly to make decisions. Participation is voluntary but there are high levels of response, as many stakeholders see the need to cooperate and the potential of energy-saving activities for their own work.

In 1997, the first forum on the topic of energy was created, paving the way for the establishment of the local energy agency in 2000. This forum developed and became the Heidelberg Climate Protection and Energy Circle, comprising all stakeholders from the energy and climate sectors together with key civic partners. Participants discuss and develop strategies and projects and make recommendations for city policy.

Results

In 2004, Heidelberg commissioned the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research to evaluate the city’s activities since its 1992 Climate Protection Strategy and to undertake a CO2 audit. The Institute developed a list of 43 recommendations and measures for the energy sector, based on the findings and the outcomes of stakeholder consultations.

The focus of these measures comprised 8 categories – cross-cutting; municipal organizations; private households/housing associations; services, businesses and industry; public bodies (other than city); US army; energy-related services and products; and energy supply. The Heidelberg Climate Protection and Energy Circle are responsible for implementation of the programme through projects, with political legitimacy provided by council approval.

In 2006-7, projects have included energy-saving in church parishes, schools and sports clubs; optimization of urban energy planning in city districts; sustainable business activities for SMEs; optimization of ventilation in university buildings; and an energy and CO2 audit for the whole city (excluding transport). A key component of activity is awareness-raising. For example, the city has given advice to citizens on the installation of solar thermal water heaters and helped with applications for federal grants and loans.

On 25 May 2007, to highlight the potential of energy efficient buildings, Lord Mayor Dr. Eckart Würzner placed a 1000 litre block of ice in a non-cooled wooden frame house, built according to passive house standards. Citizens were invited to guess how much ice would remain by 15 June 2007 – the middle of summer in southern Germany, where temperatures frequently pass 35C. More than 850 people placed a bet and after three weeks, the house was opened to reveal that only 213 litres of ice had melted. This innovative awareness-raising exercise demonstrated the potential of passive house building standards and good insulation.

CO2 emissions reductions

CO2 emissions from municipal buildings were cut by 35% (1993-2004) and from university buildings by 13% (1999-2002). In 2005, municipal buildings emitted 21,966 tCO2 compared to 37,717 tCO2 in 1993 and since 1993, it is estimated that over 225,000 tonnes per year of CO2 emissions have been saved in private households, business, industry and transportation through the city’s activities.

The 2004 legislation builds upon these savings and applies high standards to all buildings in the city, with the aim of achieving the 20% cut in CO2 emissions by 2015. Financial savings are made by the city, businesses and citizens for every building constructed to or beyond Heidelberg’s energy standard. A CO2 audit of local authority buildings and the city as whole will help monitor progress and identify potential for future changes.

Energy efficiency

In 2001 the city decided to purchase 25% of electricity supply from renewable sources. This 7 gWh of electricity is purchased at a fixed tariff and extra revenues are invested by the utility into new renewable projects, including biomass, solar and geothermal.

Energy efficiency is promoted by KLiBA, a not-for-profit consultancy set up by a network of municipalities and local banks, that offers free advice to all energy users and that prepares “buildings passports” on the energy performance of buildings. One example of energy efficiency regards the local bakeries – a methodology was developed to help bakers assess their efficiency and projected a 10-25% energy saving, with paybacks for efficiency investments within two years.

Costs

The City’s Environment Office has a €215,000 annual budget for climate projects. Additional funds are available from other budgets, such as the property management budget. €50,000 is available for the business support programme that assists SMEs and €60,000 for the local energy agency. Around €470,000 is provided for the support programme for rational energy use, which provides grants for energy upgrades such as roof insulation or window replacements.

*The annual financial savings for the city are €1.7 million compared to 1994, although the Office for Environmental Protection, Trade Supervision and Energy say that it is difficult to break this down and identify specific investments or savings from individual projects. This figure is a saving comprising all activities undertaken in the period.

Next steps

Heidelberg aims to continue making progress towards its target of a 20% cut in CO2 emissions by 2015. Actions will include new projects that aim to increase the share of renewable energy sources in the city.