From energy transition to public participation.

The European event focused on all the good practices aimed at decarbonisation, energy efficiency, sustainable mobility, the use of renewable sources and public participation.

The first European conference organised by Legambiente took place online on 16 April as part of the Horizon2020 Multiply project funded by the European Commission and dedicated to best practices in decarbonisation, the development of renewable sources, efficiency policies, sustainable mobility, and participation. In other words, the issues at the heart of the European Green Deal and the ecological transition that will have to lead the old continent towards the 2050 climate objectives.


The European Multiply project has been moving along these themes for more than two years, involving six European countries - Austria, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Hungary - with as many partners - Deutsche Umwelthilfe, Association of Municipalities Polish Network "Energie Cités", Energiaklub, Climate Alliance Austria, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute Ltd, Legambiente, accompanied by the two technical partners PosadMaxwan and Generation.Energy (Netherlands), with the aim of pushing integrated urban planning to the centre of the fight against the climate emergency that increasingly affects cities    and municipalities.


The Big European Exchange, in fact, took place at the end of a peer-to-peer training course on these issues and involved 42 European administrations, 7 for each country involved, with the aim of helping small and large cities to become more liveable and resilient. A process that has seen the involvement not only of the political leaders who will have to take on the proposals for change, but also technical managers and part of the communication staff who are fundamental to the implementation of the processes and understanding of the projects. Indeed, climate objectives will play a decisive role in the transformation of our cities, whether large or small.  Therefore, it is important that every stakeholder inside and outside the administration  not only has all the tools to implement change, but also to involve citizens and territories in a process in which it will be fundamental that everyone plays their part.



Seven hours of conference, divided into 4 thematic sessions in which 24 municipalities were able to present the best practices and strategies learned for integrated, intelligent urban planning.

The live streaming, divided into 4 thematic sessions - energy, energy efficiency, sustainable mobility, and public participation - was opened by Legambiente vice-president Edoardo Zanchini, who had the honour to welcome all the participants and highlight the importance of European decarbonisation targets and integrated planning. The theme of integrated planning was further explored by Boris Hocks, CEO of Generation.Energy, who presented best practice examples and reflected on the integrated planning workshops.

The sessions

In the energy session -  coordinated by Rupert Wronski, project coordinator, and featuring 6 municipalities from the north to the south of Europe - Perchtoldsdorf (Austria), Ajka (Hungary), Örebro (Sweden), Montechiarugolo (Italy), Bydgoszcz (Poland) and Recklinghausen (Germany) - local  strategies for the dissemination of renewable energy sources and energy self-sufficiency through clean technologies were highlighted. 

The first part of the event ended with the session dedicated to energy efficiency, which saw the participation of the municipalities of Siemianowice Śląskie (Poland), Ferla (Italy), Orebro (Sweden),  Budaörs  (Hungary), Emmendingen (Germany), Ober-Grafedorf (Austria), masterfully coordinated by Friedrich Hofer of Climate Alliance Austria. It gave the 130 participants the opportunity to hear about different strategies for reducing energy consumption and upgrading buildings implemented by the various municipal administrations.

The transport session, on the other hand, coordinated by Simone Nuglio, Legambiente, allowed participants to learn about 5 different strategies for the development of sustainable mobility, one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonise, especially in the case of heavy transport. But that in the case of the cities of XIII. district of Budapest (Hungary), Umea (Sweden), Weiz (Austria), Ostrołęka (Poland) and San Martino di Castrozza (Italy) already offers important solutions and strategies, with important advantages for citizens.

Citizens play an increasingly important role in strategic planning choices, especially in the municipalities of Hamburg (Germany), Sopronkövesd (Hungary), Mińsk Mazowiecki (Poland), Rankweil (Austria), Campi Bisenzio (Italy), and Botkyrka (Sweden), which in the last session on public participation, coordinated by Kata Gyõri (Energiaklub Climate Policy Institut), described how citizens and territorial stakeholders take part in the choices made by the municipal administrations, thus being able to better identify desires but above all needs of the territory for the purpose of a better quality of life but also of a greater awareness not only of the hard process of transformation that all territories will have to face, but also in the development of projects.

The Big European Exchange virtual platform

A day of work dedicated to the exchange of information, best practices, and solutions with the aim of providing participants, and the protagonists themselves, with ideas for implementing and enriching their own strategies. For this reason, alongside the conference, the virtual platform Coperniko , created by AT Media S.r.l., an innovative SME from Alessandria (Italy) specialised in the development of virtual reality and VR 360 video solutions, and which for the occasion has put its expertise into the creation of a virtual space, where all the curious can visit virtual information spaces dedicated to all 43 municipalities that are taking part in the Multiply project. Seven virtual stands, one for each country plus one dedicated to the project, where users will be able to read, deepen and download information materials on the different European projects. In addition to these, there is the Plenary Hall, where it will be possible to deepen the knowldge of integrated urban planning thanks to the work done with the technical partners PosadMaxwan and Generation.Energy that during the peer to peer training have helped municipalities to understand how their territories could be transformed thanks to the projects that Mayors, Councillors and technicians will carry out in the next years. And from a ‘Sala Caffe’, where it is possible to read and deepen some curiosities related to the traditions and beauties of Italy, the "organizing" country of the event.

Best practice examples

In Austria 7 municipalities are participating in the project. 4 of them had the opportunity to present one best practice at the Big European Exchange Conference. The municipality of Perchtoldsdrof opened the first session of the day dedicated to energy. The Vice Mayor Christian Apl presented the decarbonisation strategy of the municipality Perchtoldsdorf 4 Future. In second place, the Mayor of the municipality of Ober-Grafendorf explained during the energy efficiency session how the municipality is saving costs and energy for the waste water treatment with an intelligent rainwater management called draingarden©. The system consists on a greenery that can absorb, retain, filter and store large amounts of water in short time. The street wastewater is naturally freed of pollutants through the root system. The draingarden© influenced positively the microclimate by unsealing, storing rainwater and evaporation. The third Austrian municipality presenting their good practices at the conference was the city of Weiz. Barbara Kulmer introduced the mobility strategy of the city with examples of already implemented actions like the pedestrian counting machine that serves to raise awareness or the conversion of a freight train to a passenger train. Finally, the municipality of Rankweil presented during the last session of the they the communication strategy of the town to increase public interest for the development of the urban center. The communication representative of Rankweil Karin Böhler explained how the municipality work closely with stakeholders and citizens to achieve the goals. She noted, that the citizens need to see some effect of their participation immediately and how important is to keep the information chain (internal administration/politics, people who are directly affected, the whole public). The other Austrian municipalities Gerersdorf, Knittelfeld, Spillern where also present at the Big European Exchange Conference with their posters in the virtual platform.


In Germany the following municipalities, with selected districts, take part in the peer-learning process of the Multiply project: Boeblingen (Rauher Kapf), Emmendingen (Bürkle-Bleiche), Halle (Lutherviertel), Hamburg (Lokstedt), Kiel (Holtenau Ost), Moenchengladbach (Rheydt) and Recklinghausen (Hillerheide). The municipality of Boeblingen is in the process of developing the district Rauher Kapf into a future-oriented sustainable neighbourhood that will contain low emissions buildings, renewable generation capacities and innovative mobility solutions. Emmendingen ran a very successful energetic refurbishment campaign, targeted at private households in the district of Bürkle-Bleiche. The renovation rate could be significantly increased. Emmendingen is now in the process of up-scaling this approach to the entire municipality, also including approaches on sustainable mobility. The city of Halle is actively reducing the emissions in the district Lutherviertel by shifting the local heat supply to more environmentally friendly sources. Hamburg is trying out multiple approaches to decarbonize the district of Lokstedt, while offering various possibilities for public participation. In the city of Kiel a whole new districted is being newly developed in Holtenau Ost. The site offers plenty of opportunities for a decarbonized, future and climate-proof neighbourhood. Renewable generation sources, efficiency standards for buildings and climate-friendly mobility are important topics here. In Moenchengladbach the inner-city district Rheydt is to be redeveloped. In addition to the city hall that will be rebuilt in a climate-friendly way a main concern is the activation of private homeowners for energetic refurbishment. In Recklinghausen a part of the district Hillerheide is being newly developed. The former horse racing track will be transformed into a lake that will serve various purposes:  recreation, energy generation, adaptation. Linking the older and new part of the district via public participation and communicated benefits towards the old inhabitants plays also an important role here.

In Italy there are 7 municipalities involved by Multiply and followed in the peer-to-peer process also by the technical partner AzzeroCO2: Aprilia (Latina), Campi Bisenzio (Firenze), Ferla (Siracusa), Fluminimaggiore (Sardegna), Montechiarugolo (Parma), Primiero San Martino di Castrozza (Trento) and Rocca Canterano (Roma). The Municipality of Primiero San Martino di Castrozza a small municipality in the province of Trento, is in the process of creating an Energy Community by managing, with the collaboration of ACSM Spa, 14 hydroelectric plants and 2 wood biomass district heating plants. The next step will be to share the energy produced and not consumed with neighbouring municipalities. Other Italian best practices come from the small Sicilian municipality of Ferla in the province of Siracusa. Here, seven photovoltaic systems power several municipal and school buildings, and the aim is to reduce car use through the proximity of services and, above all, the provision of pedal-assisted bicycles. The municipality is about to launch a plan of incentives and subsidised tariffs for photovoltaic and solar installations. Ferla is also a champion of participatory democracy: all processes activated by the municipality are first discussed with citizens through social networks or meetings in the square. The experience of the municipality of Campi Bisenzio is also in the field of collective participation: since 2015, it has been experimenting with the Participatory Budget formula, where citizens have decision-making powers in project financing. In the same vein, the Distretto dell'Economia Civile (Civil Economy District) was set up, where public policies intersect with the principles of the civil economy. Aprilia is also active in the field of energy efficiency and sustainable mobility: here there are 8,500 LED lighting points for public illumination, and the municipal building has been upgraded from energy class G to A. In Sardinia, the municipality of Fluminimaggiore has launched the Happy Village project to tackle population decline by renovating empty or abandoned houses in a green and energy-efficient way to attract seasonal tourists and new residents, guaranteeing a range of services. Green mobility and energy saving are the two paradigms of the Parma municipality of Montechiarugolo: in recent years, many public buildings (including schools) have been upgraded by completing energy certification and the public lighting network has been built with a "Smart" perspective, while alternative mobility has been promoted thanks to the creation of cycle paths along the main roads of the town. Finally, in Rocca Canterano, the municipality is reclaiming a disused area by building an eco-sustainable swimming pool with a photovoltaic system, solar thermal collectors, and LED lighting.


As cities combining sustainable transport, energy and urban planning solutions, the MULTIPLY project in Poland includes three precursor cities: Bydgoszcz, Piastów and Sztum and Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Minsk Mazowiecki, Ostrołęka and Siemianowice Śląskie as committed cities. Grodzisk Mazowiecki is a city that wants to be both modern and economically developing as well as environmentally and resident friendly. The city is planning a pilot project for electric buses and the development of urban mobility i.e. the introduction of Intelligent Transport Systems. Mińsk Mazowiecki is a dynamically developing district administrative and service centre in the Warsaw Metropolitan Area. Considering the importance of the quality of the natural environment, friendliness of public spaces and accessibility, the city has undertaken a number of actions to improve the quality of life of its residents. Aware of the problems existing in its area, the city is planning to comprehensively modernise the city lighting system with solutions increasing its efficiency and reduce car traffic by introducing a city bike system in cooperation with the neighbouring municipalities. Ostrołęka is struggling with the problems of polluted air, suburbanisation, lack of space in the city centre, inefficient public transport and heavy car traffic. Number of measures implemented to respond to individual problems faced by the city not fully solved the city's problems, which is why the city is undertaking further actions, but in the spirit of an integrated approach city is covering as much of the city as possible with a Local Spatial Development Plan; replacing city lighting with energy-efficient lighting; eliminating conventional heat sources. Siemianowice Śląskie is a city that has been consequently implementing the policy of a SMART city for the last 5 years. City developing efficient use of energy in public and residential buildings by introducing monitoring of energy consumption in buildings; implementing the solutions indicated in the Electromobility Development Strategy and promoting rational use of resources and develop a closed-cycle economy, limiting negative impact on the environment. Bydgoszcz is a city that implements integrated urban planning solutions and aims to achieve energy self-sufficiency. The city has a Municipal Urban Planning Laboratory and an Integrated Development Department, ensuring integrated planning of the city's development. Piastów successfully implements projects that are part of integrated urban planning in the areas of mobility, energy management and spatial planning. Sztum strives for climate neutrality and is effective in the field of urban integrated planning e.g. through the Electromobility Strategy, the development of an energy cluster and the use of information from the local revitalisation programme.  The city actively develops urban transport based on electricity and CNG and encourages cycling by investing in the necessary infrastructure and creating safe conditions for cycling within the city.


In Sweden, the six municipalities participating in the MULTIPLY project are: Botkyrka (Award-winning city), Umeå (forerunner), Örebro (forerunner), Kalmar (committed), Västerås (committed) and Lomma (committed). During the Big European Exchange Örebro shared their example on how to work on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. They are aiming to create a city district where the buildings share energy and electrical cars are used as batteries. The aim of the project is to limit the use of fossil energy sources during peak hours. Umeå municipality shared examples of many of their mobility measures. Umeå has for a long time worked strategical to reach their goal of 65 % sustainable travel in 2030. In working towards this they have implemented a catalogue of measures, such as: electrical cargo-bikes, new concept for bus stops among many others. Botkyrka municipality shared their working method on public participation. The model consists of so called “Networking groups in every district”, “Temporary teams” as well as annual analysis and annual planning in collaboration with the community and local organisations. It also includes district development projects that works as a guide on how to develop a district in the long run. In Botkyrka municipality they believe that the citizens are the experts, and that working close with them provides a better base to work towards sustainability and it allows for a higher level of integration in the planning process.


In Hungary the seven municipality involved are:  Ajka (Transdanubia),  Budaörs  (Pest), the II District of Budapest, Répceszemere, Sopronkövesd, Szarvas and the XIII District of Budapest. The Municipality of Ajka sets a good example on the one hand how to manage development projects in an integrated manner and in cooperation with neighbouring cities and also in implementing successful building renovation programme providing direct financial support for citizens. Budaörs is among the first Hungarian cities who developed a Sustainable Energy Action Plan of the CoM in 2012. The city demonstrates a good example by always trying to maximize the energy efficiency measures on their own building stock and by having a successful, on-going building renovation programme for locals. The II District of Budapest, instead, is implementing several development projects in its green areas and by starting environmental education programme for children in cooperation with the civil society. The municipality of Répceszemere is to provide the energy demand for their municipally owned buildings 100% by their own renewable-energy based systems making them independent from the central energy providers. In the future the village introduce community energy systems, infrared heating system with solar panel or small-scale hydroelectric power plant etc. The municiaplity of Sopronkövesd sets a good example for locals with the installation of PV systems on their owned buildings and by some of the few national wind turbines that can be found within the village. The forerunner city Szarvas implements a ’Green city’ project that initiates increasing tree planting and green field renovation. Municiaplity is also a forerunner in utilizing renewable energies by possessing a considerably high installed capacity of PV system on its municipally owned buildings and having its district heating system highly based on geothermal energy.  At last, the XIII District of Budapest sets a good practice on how to engage with citizens to develop and maintain local green areas together by initiating a ‘green area adoption’ programme among locals and implementing public participation programmes to plan the future of local green fields together. In addition has been the first nation-wide, who built a passive-house as a 100-apartment municipal dwelling financed 100% by its own resources.


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Austrian Municipalities- Big European Exchange 

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