Energy Efficient Communities

Completed (2007 - 2013)


The scope of the project covers the design of long-term energy conservation and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation strategies and their continuous optimisation either on a community level or on the level of a municipal quarter. A holistic approach is decisive for the spectrum of measures that are to be developed – comprehending generation, supply, transport and use/demand of energy and considering short-term as well as long-term measures – in order to ensure the best possible economic efficiency for the community. Another part of this approach is the use of modern management methods using delegation of responsibilities, marketing and conflict resolution, as described in the ALEP (Advanced Local Energy Planning) guidebook of Annex 33.
The use of integrated evaluation methods and tools suited to identify an optimised combination of measures that will increase the overall energy chain efficiency in communities ‘from cradle to grave’ will be necessary. During implementation, the improvements should be quantified and monitored using the same tools, as the achieved improvements can be traced using the same energy system model as in the planning phase. The availability and quality of such tools will be verified through the evaluation of existing experiences from case studies. Such an integrated approach is not focused solely an ever-increasing reduction of the energy demand on the one hand or on technologies which improve efficiency or increase the use of alternative energy sources on the other. The real issue is to find the ideal combination of both and to devise a strategy that ensures that these measures will be implemented in practice.

Objectives and Benefits

The main objective of the project is to use an integrated and multidisciplinary approach as a basis for providing tools, guidelines, recommendations, best-practice examples and background material for designers and decision makers in all fields concerned. This integrated approach will enable communities to set up sustainable and secure urban energy structures and identify the specific actions necessary to reach ambitious GHG-reduction goals.
The second objective is to transfer these experiences to other communities and enable them to establish their own local strategy in order to reach their desired sustainability goals. The players addressed by the project are planners, decision makers on urban investments (buildings, infrastructure, commercial estates) and local administrations. The novelty of the approach lies not in technical innovations, as is the case with most other EBC projects, but in exploring effective paths that implement these innovations in communities with an increased rate.

Research Issues

The project has addressed the following research issues:

  • The energy conservation approach: how to find the economic minimum of energy demand using recent advances in building physics, heating/ventilating innovations and “smart building” potentials
  • The low exergy approach: how to minimize exergy consumption during energy distribution and supply in communities
  • The renewables approach: how to maximize contributions of solar, biomass, geothermal technologies etc. by integrating them into existing or new supply structures. Potentials of existing and novel technologies will be evaluated using new analysis tools. Needs for new developments will be identified
  • The holistic system approach: evaluation of the dependencies between energy supply and energy demand within the communities and development of a long-term strategy for the system as a whole including distribution


The project was structured according to the following four research areas:

  • Methods and Design Tools for Energy Efficient Communities
  • Case-studies I: Local Energy Planning for City Quarters or Neighbourhoods and Implementation
  • Case Studies II: Integrated Energy Planning for Communities and Implementation Strategies
  • Knowledge Transfer and Dissemination

Operating Agent

Reinhard Jank
Ettlinger-Tor-Platz 2
76137 Karlsruhe
Tel: +49 721 3506 238


Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, USA