Integrated neighbourhood strategies: Recommendations for action for municipalities

The first thematic workshop, held with representatives of the pilot projects, put together recommendations for drawing up integrated neighbourhood strategies for energy efficiency. Experience gained in the pilot projects shows that developing neighbourhood strategies is a complex process which calls for high quality process management and substantial participation by stakeholders and citizens. Selecting the site, defining its boundaries and formulating objectives are key steps which determine the focus and direction of the project.

Selection of neighbourhoods

Choosing a neighbourhood and defining its extent significantly influences what can be achieved and consequently the results of the neighbourhood strategy. The experience gained in the pilot projects suggests it is better to opt for neighbourhoods of a manageable size. Availability of data and the willingness of local actors to participate are other important criteria for selection. It is also advisable to select neighbourhoods for energy-efficient urban redevelopment that are relevant for the town or city as a whole, and where possible to involve appropriate actors in this decision-making process.

Formulation of objectives

Clear objectives are among the most important principles of strategy development and should be formulated as early as possible in the process. This establishes the framework for the integrated neighbourhood strategy itself.  On the one hand, it is important to set long-term goals based on identified potential, and gear the approaches of the strategy towards them. On the other hand, economically feasible short and medium-term goals must also be specified and implemented.

Process management

In view of the complex requirements for the development of integrated neighbourhood strategies for energy efficiency, effective process management is essential. This process management should be clearly structured and preferably implemented by one party throughout the project. The appropriate number of working hours must be allocated for this and any resources available from the different partners must also be pooled and used. The amount of work involved in data collection is often underestimated and it is essential to factor in sufficient lead time for this task. With a view to implementation guidance, ideally first projects should be initiated while the strategy is still being drawn up. To avoid a delay between developing the integrated neighbourhood strategy and commencing the project, preparations for implementation management should be made at an early stage.

Actor participation

The actors relevant for implementation should already be involved from the project application stage. This can be facilitated through existing stakeholder networks at municipal and neighbourhood level. Political support should also be secured from the outset. Partnership agreements help to make cooperation binding and to specify goals, responsibilities and forms of cooperation. In this context it is important to appoint a main contact person who also acts as trouble shooter in the process. Local people affected should also be involved from the start in order to secure their acceptance and raise awareness of climate-friendly behaviour in day-to-day life.

Integrated approach

To raise acceptance for energy-efficient urban redevelopment and improve implementation opportunities, it is important to link the strategies to other key issues relevant to neighbourhoods (e.g. barrier-free accessibility, generational shift) and to build on existing strategies such as ISEK (integrated urban design strategies) and action plans. However, integrated neighbourhood strategies for energy efficiency must also “learn” as they go along – in other words, it must be possible to modify them in light of experience gained.