These are just some of the ideas discussed on 9 November during the meeting between Prague (Czechia), Karsiyaka (Turkey) and District 2 of Bucharest (Romania) as part of the Covenant of Mayors (CoM) twinning programme 2021-2022. The CoM twinning programme provides tailored learning opportunities to support local authorities in the mitigation and adaptation to climate change. In this Twinning, Karsiyaka and Bucharest District 2 came together to learn from Prague’s strategies for energy efficiency and adaptation. So, what did Prague share?
The newly approved Climate Plan structures the city’s climate action around four main domains and working groups: Energy & Buildings, Sustainable mobility, Adaptation and Circular Economies.
The Plan’s working group on Energy & Buildings has a strong emphasis on governance, which can be seen in recent developments such as a renewable energy community and a district heating community; the Prague Renewable Energy Community aims to encourage apartment building tenants to install photovoltaic panels and profit from using their renewably generated energy and selling exceeds to the grid under the ‘Mieterstrom’ approach; the district heating committee, on the other hand, aims to start a discussion with the private district heating provider around the need to phase out coal combustion to provide the city’s electricity.
Combining old with new was the answer in the case of the historic National Theatre. By installing photovoltaic panels not on the main historical building of the National Theatre, but on the adjacent ‘New Stage’ building of 1983, the project preserved the silhouette of the historical building while engaging with the contemporary architecture of the ‘New Stage’ through the addition of solar panels on its rooftop. Several measures were implemented to reduce the theatre’s energy consumption, including the use of the river nearby to provide cooling water. Such actions have brought this historic building in line with the energy-needs of the 21st century while preserving its history.
A guaranteed savings model provided the necessary means in the case of Prague’s Congress Centre. Together with an Energy Service Company Operator (ESCO), Prague used Energy Performance Contracting based on a guaranteed savings model. This financing model not only enabled Prague to accomplish a large renovation without upfront investments, but it also enabled the city to make use of the ESCO’s expertise in the use of turnkey solutions. Following project completion, the EPC model was used for two other city theatres, demonstrating not only economic, but also know-how benefits in partnering up with the ESCO.
Prague 6 District’s Adaptation Action Plan used an innovative approach to gather input from citizens. Used as a pilot district for implementing Prague’s Adaptation Strategy, the city created a web-based “Emotional plan” which allowed citizens to map spaces based on seven categories related to their experience of temperature, rain, and greenery across the district and to suggest adaptation measures. The citizen’s input was complemented with urban climate modelling as an additional source of data, allowing to draw an accurate picture of the main intervention areas.
Prague has partnered with ECOTEN to develop a smart and energy positive school under the Operational Programme Prague Growth Pol e combining adaptation and mitigation measures. After an asbestos cleaning, the ‘flagship’ project has reused the load-bearing structure of an existing school and redesigned the building envelope using a new wooden, pre-fabricated facade, and added an exterior passive shading structure with vegetation during the hot summers. Moreover, the buildings’ heating & cooling system makes use of groundwater that is drawn from a borehole during the hot months, and released back into the ground during the winter. A ‘smart’ building system with sensors monitors the building’s energy performance. Once the building becomes operational in short, it will serve as a learning ground for engineering students at the Czech Technical University.
Moving forward, our cities will switch roles and partners to continue their learning: Prague will be partnered with Dresden (mentor) to explore how to tackle extreme heat and flooding; Bucharest District 2 will work with District 6 to share their expertise of deep retrofitting of public and private buildings; Karsiyaka will share its expertise in urban green spaces and NbS for flooding with Setubal.
The Covenant of Mayors twinning programme has the goal of increasing local authorities’ capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change while creating long-term partnerships between European, local, and other subnational authorities. For further information on the programme, click here .
*Owing to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, some of the site visits for the 2021-2022 twinning programme were transferred online.
Photo: Sebastiaan Stam from Pexels