Making existing buildings greener

The Municipal Building Decarbonisation Network exists to support city efforts to improve the energy efficiency of the buildings they own, lease, and manage. After winning a C40 Award in 2017 for their Energy Surveillance system improving the management and operation of public buildings, Copenhagen now leads the Network.  

Since municipal buildings contribute to a significant proportion of building emissions, they offer a large opportunity for rapid action. Cities have a high degree of control over their municipal buildings, meaning they can directly introduce energy efficiency improvements, reduce energy consumption, cut their emissions and save public money. Municipal buildings can also act as flagships to pilot new ideas, demonstrate leadership, and inspire other building owners and users in the decarbonisation of the built environment.

An increasing number of cities in the network have signed both parts of the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Accelerator committing to enact regulations and/or planning policy to ensure new buildings operate at net zero carbon by 2030 and commit to owning, occupying and developing only assets (existing buildings) that are net zero carbon in operation by 2030. The network is now actively looking to focus on how deep retrofit measures can be integrated within plans that deliver on the ambitions of the accelerator.

Aerial view of Copenhagen skyline and Amagertorv town square with fountain, Denmark - stock photo
© Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

Participating cities in the network have prioritised the following focus areas and are actively sharing policies and strategies with one another.

Focus areas:
  • Data
    Building up data on municipal energy use, analyse it, and prioritise future targeted energy efficiency actions.
  • Finance
    Source and structure long-term funding for municipal energy efficiency programs.
  • Behaviour 
    Persuade inhabitants of municipal buildings to take up energy saving themselves.
  • Governance
    Embed energy efficiency as a priority across municipal government departments.

The Municipal Building Decarbonisation Network was previously complemented by the Municipal Retrofit Technical Assistance Programme, which enabled cities at the incubation stage to receive support and develop the structure of energy efficiency programmes for their municipal buildings, and set baselines and targets.

This work was part of the C40 Buildings & Energy Programme, generously supported by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) and ClimateWorks Foundation.