C40 Energy Initiative launches two new networks to reduce emissions from buildings

The C40 Energy Initiative launched two new networks in September, expanding support for cities interested in reducing carbon emissions from buildings. The District Energy Network will accelerate the development of efficient, low-carbon district heating and cooling systems that serve many buildings. The Municipal Building Efficiency Network will help cities improve the energy efficiency of public buildings.

On average, energy consumed in buildings accounts for almost half of C40 cities’ carbon emissions, approximately one-third of which comes from public buildings. Improving building energy efficiency cuts emissions and energy bills, and can bring many additional benefits including healthier workplaces, new jobs and greater energy security. Furthermore, buildings connected to a district energy system benefit from the fuel flexibility brought on by economies of scale and the additional valuable building space that would otherwise be used for boilers or chillers.

C40 cities are already sharing their innovative models for cutting bills and emissions from their public buildings. In Paris, for example, the School Retrofit Project is retrofitting 600 schools with the goal of saving 65GWh (gigawatt hours) per year. The full results on 100 schools won’t be known until 2015, but the first group of 45 schools has already demonstrated energy savings above 30 percent. The project has also created employment opportunities for local small businesses. “We welcome this opportunity to share our experience with other cities around the world, and we also look forward to learning from them through C40,” said Arnaud Le Bel Hermile, project manager from the City of Paris.

London’s RE:FIT programme has already retrofitted, or is in the process of retrofitting, 400 public sector buildings, including government offices, hospitals and museums, generating an estimated CO2 savings of 30,000 tonnes per annum. By 2015, London aims to increase these numbers, retrofitting 600 buildings and generating savings of 45,000 tonnes of CO2. “C40 has played an instrumental part in this programme, and we are hoping our successes inspire other cities to take action,” said Virginie Caujolle-Pradenc, programme director from the Greater London Authority.

The District Energy Network will include cities that are converting legacy district heating and cooling systems to use lower-carbon fuels, as well as those developing new systems in fast-growing neighbourhoods. Vancouver, for example, has a comprehensive strategy to tackle both these areas at once, learning by doing with a city-owned and operated system that was developed to supply the Olympic Village. Chris Baber, Vancouver’s Neighbourhood Energy Manager, said:

We’ve consistently beat our emission reduction target of 60 percent with our district energy system and are confident that some of our successes can be replicated in other cities. We’re glad to have the C40 platform to share what we’ve learned and enable us to benefit from other cities’ experiences as well.”