Building decarbonisation
27 June 2024

Green light to establish two new Thematic Partnerships

On 26 June 2024, the Directors-General on Urban Matters (DGUM) endorsed the Ex-Ante Assessment on the themes of Water Sensitive City and Building Decarbonisation: Integrated Renovation Programmes and Local Heating and Cooling Plans – an important step forward to prepare two new Thematic Partnerships under the Urban Agenda for the EU.

It was agreed by housing and urban development ministers during the informal meeting in Gijon in November 2023, to explore the potential of the two themes on Water Sensitive City and Housing decarbonisation, local heating and cooling plans. Since then, two extensive Ex-Ante Assessment (EAA) reports have been developed by Birgit Georgi and Dr Stephen Lorimer. Both reports affirmed the relevance of the suggested themes against the current EU policy framework and suggest specific sub-topics on which the future partnerships could focus. The original theme of Housing decarbonisation has newly been modified to Building Decarbonisation: Integrated Renovation Programmes and Local Heating and Cooling Plans. The analysis showed a necessity to enhance the focus from ‘housing’ to ‘building’ to ensure a place-based approach including all buildings of a neighbourhood. However, the focus remains on residential buildings as the social dimension is considered as an important aspect of decarbonisation.  
The reports were endorsed on 26 June by the Directors-General for Urban Matters (DGUM). Consequently, the way is now open to establish two new UAEU Thematic Partnerships in the second half of 2024. 

What’s next?
A Call for Partners for each Thematic Partnership will be launched on the 28 August and will stay open until 2 October 2024. Until then, interested stakeholders are invited to have a look at the Ex-Ante Assessment to get a better understanding of the thematic scopes and how relevant partners might be able to contribute to these partnerships. Furthermore, an online applicant seminar will take place on 5 September where interested stakeholders will get more information about the application process as well as what to expect from a Thematic Partnership within the Urban Agenda for the EU. 

For further information about the Applicant seminar see here

Water Sensitive City

Water sensitive city

The concept of a Water Sensitive City (WSC) suggests an integrated approach to urban water management, vital for tackling existing and new challenges posed by climate change, urbanisation and land use trends. By incorporating water sensitive design, cities should integrate water cycle management into green and built environments, addressing various risks like stormwater, flooding, and water scarcity. WSC should enhance the perspective from seeing water as a problem to rather seeing it as a resource. Achieving WSC measures across green, blue, and technical infrastructure, alongside non-engineered approaches like awareness raising, education and incentives.

The analysis presented in the related Ex-Ante Assessment report confirms that now is an excellent moment to launch the Water Sensitive City Partnership. The Water Sensitive City theme is well aligned with the current EU priorities such as the Greener Europe policy objective of Cohesion Funding, starting negotiations of the post-2027 Cohesion Policy, the Recast of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, the EU Strategies on Biodiversity and on Climate Change Adaptation and recent intentions to establish a European Blue Deal or the Commission’s Water Resilience Initiative.

Building Decarbonisation

Building decarbonisation

The Ex-Ante Assessment of the theme Building Decarbonisation: Integrated Renovation Programmes and Local Heating and Cooling Plans suggests focusing on how to overcome the perspective of single buildings in the decarbonisation process towards district and neighbourhood approaches for integrated renovation programmes. Essentially the partnership should concentrate on how integrated renovation programmes and local heating and cooling plans can advance cities' social, economic, and environmental goals. Therefore, decarbonisation measures in the building stock needs to be regarded in the context of urban regeneration and local heating and cooling plans as local development documents. 

Decarbonisation of buildings goes beyond efficiency measures and entails also the energy supply. An important aspect that the Ex-ante Assessment suggests for the Thematic Partnership is to focus on the future electricity market design and how to strengthen the framework conditions for renewable energy communities and local energy system design. Specifically, recent renewed EU legislation will be important to take into account by the partnership such as the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), which requires Member States to show how National Building Renovation Plans (NBRPs) encourage local authorities to use integrated renovation programs to meet energy efficiency targets.