Climate Active Neighbourhoods (CAN)

To facilitate the implementation of low-carbon, energy and climate protection strategies to reduce GHG emissions in NWE

Project Summary

New approaches for energy retrofits in residential areas

Energy retrofits of existing residential areas make an important contribution to achieving EU goals on CO2 emissions. The Climate Active Neighbourhoods project (CAN) focuses on underprivileged neighbourhoods that are in need of renovation in municipalities and regions of varying size throughout northwest Europe. To build relevant capacity in these participating local authorities, neighbourhood approaches and synergies based on new governance models will be introduced. A bottom-up approach will also encourage residents to find appropriate financing for the planned energy efficiency measures. In the end, a mix of exemplary refurbishments, resident investment schemes and behavioural change will contribute to a tailored set of solutions.


Examples of planned activities

  • Shared responsibility
    CAN will help municipalities establish shared responsibilities with various districts for example while supporting community-led organisations dedicated to improving the energy performance of the homes in the neighbourhoods. The project will find cost effective approaches to energy savings and craft programmes to help tenants understand the effect of their behaviour on energy use.

  • Financing schemes
    On the neighbourhood level, CAN will develop and launch both investment funds for residents with a focus on migrant communities and new financing schemes with focus on rental homes.

  • Neighbourhood action
    CAN will develop neighbourhood tools to promote good practice examples on the basis of retrofitting city tours, face-to-face consultations or local energy management.


Benefitting from transnational experiences

CAN goes off the beaten path, finding new ways to achieve sustainability and CO2 reduction goals. Strong partnership between actors aware of the barriers to uptake of energy retrofitting strategies and willing to overcome them together will paves the way. Thanks to CAN’s transnational work, various approaches can be explored and synergies leading to enhanced solutions can be created. Even public authorities outside of CAN’s direct sphere of influence can benefit from project results through a transnational coaching framework.

Project Partners

  • Amicus Horizon

    Grosvenor House 125 High Street
    PO Box 322
    United Kingdom

    View partner details

  • Gemeente Arnhem

    53 Eusebiusbuitensingel
    6828 HZ

    View partner details

  • Brest métropole

    24 Rue Coat-ar-Guéven
    Brest Cedex 2
    CS 73826 29238

    View partner details

  • Energieagentur Rheinland-Pfalz GmbH

    122 Trippstadter Strasse

    View partner details

  • Stadt Essen

    1 Porscheplatz

    View partner details

  • Liège-Energie

    2 Place du Marché

    View partner details

  • Plymouth City Council

    Ballard House West Hoe Road
    PL1 3BJ
    United Kingdom

    View partner details

  • Établissement Public d’Aménagement Public du Mantois Seine-Aval (EPAMSA)

    1 Rue de Champagne

    View partner details

  • Stadt Worms

    1 Adennauerring

    View partner details

  • Climate Alliance / Klima-Bündnis der europäischen Städte mit indigenen Völkern der Regenwälder e.V.

    28 Galvanistraße
    Frankfurt am Main

    View partner details

Lead partner

Organisation Address Email Website
Climate Alliance / Klima-Bündnis der europäischen Städte mit indigenen Völkern der Regenwälder e.V. 28 Galvanistraße
Frankfurt am Main
Name Email Country
Amicus Horizon United Kingdom
Gemeente Arnhem Netherlands
Brest métropole France
Energieagentur Rheinland-Pfalz GmbH Germany
Stadt Essen Germany
Liège-Energie Belgium
Plymouth City Council United Kingdom
Établissement Public d’Aménagement Public du Mantois Seine-Aval (EPAMSA) France
Stadt Worms Germany

Spotlight on partner activities:

Climate Alliance - Lead partner

Contact person

Jenny-Claire Keilmann

Project lead
+49 69 717139-20 

Climate Alliance - Klima-Bündnis - Alianza del Clima e.V.
European Secretariat
Galvanistr. 28, 60486 Frankfurt am Main
Tel +49-69-717139-0, Fax +49-69-717139-93,

What is your organisation’s key focus?

Climate Alliance is a network of European cities and towns, banded together with the objective of protecting the global climate while promoting climate justice.
We strive for a comprehensive approach to climate change policy based on partnerships as well as recognition of local level commitment and diversity.
By joining, member municipalities have committed themselves to ambitious goals emissions reductions goals. Climate Alliance has over 1700 member municipalities in more than 25 European countries; 350 of these are located in North West Europe.

What problems do you want to tackle with CAN’s help?

In carrying out energy refurbishments in the increasingly ageing residential housing stock, Climate Alliance members across Europe face the same problems as their counterparts all over North West Europe:

  • Private house owners and tenants need to act but are not sufficiently driven to do so. Emissions reduction has low priority compared to the improvement of other living conditions.
  • Incentives for landlords and tenants are misaligned: landlords decide on the energy efficiency of a building while tenants bear the energy consumption costs.
  • Growing public indebtedness limits local public investments and leaves more tasks to private stakeholders.

For this reason, Climate Alliance brought together a strong partnership to overcome these barriers by finding new ways to achieve sustainability and CO2 reduction goals while supporting members. New organisational models, innovative and viable financial schemes and tools that trigger action locally are all part of the equation.

How is Climate Alliance contributing to the project objective and what is your role?

Climate Alliance is lead partner of the CAN project and are thus managing and coordinating project partners as well as the overall implementation of the project.
We are also involved in two core project activities:

Retrofitting City Tours: Climate Alliance is developing and carrying out the Retrofitting City Tours campaign. The campaign showcases local initiatives on energy efficiency and energy savings in residential buildings. The tours, organised jointly by municipal governments and local actors, target tenants and owners in selected neighbourhoods. They give insight into how residents can save energy by retrofitting and by changing household energy use patterns. The campaign will be launched in pilot neighbourhoods in Essen and Worms, both Climate Alliance members. After the pilot stage, guidance documents will facilitate the implementation of Retrofitting City Tours in other cities.

CO2 Monitoring: Local authorities acting on the neighbourhood level to reduce greenhouse gas emissions need regular emissions inventories to verify and authenticate success in their local climate change and energy policy. Climate Alliance will develop a set of rules for monitoring CO2 emissions at the neighbourhood level. Conducting CO2 monitoring at this level is important for the creation of reference values for future mitigation measures. A reference document on the  methodology of local energy and CO2 inventories will provide an assessment framework for neighbourhood activities both within CAN municipalities and for other interested local authorities.

Gemeente Arnhem

Contact person

Hans van Ammers.

Chief officer public space.


Focus on Climate adaptation, city climate, neighbourhood initiatives regarding sustainable energy, climate and environment. Previous EU-subsidy projects: Interreg IIIB NWE Urban Water (2003-2008) and Interreg IVB NWE Future Cities (2008-2014). Currently programme manager Climate Active Neighborhoods for Arnhem (2016-2019).

Please introduce your city.

Gemeente Arnhem, local authority (Municipality of Arnhem),
Programme Energy made in Arnhem (2015-2020):


Why are you participating at CAN? Please describe the current situation and the problems you are facing.

Our society is changing. The role of governmental organisations is changing also due to the last economic recession. Citizens, more in general stakeholders, want more responsibilities and want to be involved more in their direct living and working environment. Our aim in participating in the EU-project CAN is to determine the new role of the municipality as a local authority in this process of social innovation. And the role of our shareholders like the energy cooperation and the regional grid company. The council decided (beginning of 2015) that the districts will have more power in deciding how the municipal budget will be spent. This means a mayor shift of a top-down approach to a far more bottom-up or 'grass root approach'. The shift has been achieved starting this year, 2017. The "voice of the districts' (residents, organisations and SME's) will be more decisive as before. This means a new and changing role of the municipality and an empowerement of the districts so that the districts can also decide how the budgets should be spent.

How will you tackle the problems? Please describe your approach and your tasks within the project

It's important to monitor the neighbourhood initiatives, connect with and let them learn from each other. The municipality of Arnhem will create a hub/portal where initiatives can ask questions, ask for help. The hub/portal connects the question to relevant stakeholders of the Energy programme and other (neighbourhood) initiatives.

The hub/portal is also responsible to deliver entrepreneurs and other expertise. The municipality will help if financial support is needed, to give the initiative a good start.

Please describe your first steps.

We have also started the first 'grass root' approach in the neighbourhood Kronenburg-Vredenburg. We have started designing the hub/portal and composing a group of professionals to support the initiatives. We call it 'AANjagers', which can be translated in Encouragers. These Encouragers are now (beginning of 2017) active in 4 to 6 districts but will be active in due time in all neighbourhoods. Within the EU-project CAN this team of professionals will be co-financed and based on the best-practices the Arnhem Approach will be formulated.

What results do you expect? How can other organisations/municipalities benefit from your experiences?

We expect to find out what specific support neighbourhood initiatives need to implement, realise their own wishes and demands. Based on experiences in all neighbourhoods and their best practices we plan to determine the municipal role and responsibilities in these processes. We expect other municipalities and stakeholders involved in similar processes can benefit from our experiences.

Brest métropole

Contact person


Housing project manager
+332 98 33 52 65

10 years of experience in housing and urban planning 



Please introduce your city.

Brest metropole is a public authority which covers 8 municipalities with around 240 000 inhabitants. Brest metropole has several areas of responsibilities including publics means to reduce its carbon footprint. 

Why are you participating at CAN? Please describe the current situation and the problems you are facing.

For many years, Brest metropole has planned its policies to reach sustainable development which is defined in the local urban plan that integrates: transport, energy, waste, and housing. Housing consumes 40% of local energy so it’s is a source of important energy economy either through the building (insulation for instance) or via behaviour change (way of life of inhabitants). In 2014, Brest metropole decides to launch a fuel poverty action for the people who spend more than 10% of their income in energy bills. This initiative needed to be reinforced and subject to a more detailed assessment.

How will you tackle the problems? Please describe your approach and your tasks within the project.

Traditionally in this field, Brest metropole has led a top down approach, not always based on inhabitants’ needs and existing initiatives. With CAN, Brest metropole has initiated a new dynamic, involving directly inhabitants and local associations to get a better understanding of the needs, be able to adapt the local authority response and to create a new way of tackling fuel poverty. The involvement of local stakeholders is crucial and will be organised on a different way for each of the 4 identified deprived neighbourhoods, integrating the specificities of each area.

Please describe your first steps.

In 2016, Brest metropole has worked on Haut-de-Jaures neighbourhoods.
The first steps have consisted in identifying and meeting the main NGOs and local stakeholders already involved at neighbourhood scale.
Specific tools have been developed in cooperation with the sub-partners Energence, and the main operator Compagnons Bâtisseurs : DIY workshops, cafés energies, specific games for children, Watt Watcher… These meetings represent opportunities to establish links with inhabitants and, in a second step, invite them to organise a home visit.

What results do you expect? How can other municipalities benefit from your experiences?

CAN will reinforce the fuel poverty initiative, being more efficient and closer to the people’s needs in the most deprived neighbourhoods. 
Thanks to this project, the action coordinated by the local authority will be focused on the neighbourhoods with higher expectations – both from a energetic and social point of view. Finally, the project will bring more interactions within the local authority (between the concerned policies and departments) and with local stakeholders and inhabitants.
Brest metropole will spread the results of these experiences through different networks, at local, regional, national and European scales. The main project conclusions will be gathered and broadcast via the coaching framework.

Stadt Essen

Contact person

Kai Lipsius

+49 201 88 59200

Since January 2012 Mr Kai Lipsius is Commissioner for climate protection of the City of Essen. Previously he worked for 5 years as a senior scientist for the German Federal Environment Agency in the climate and energy department. Kai Lipsius holds a degree in Geoecology from the TU Braunschweig and graduated as Master of Science in Environmental Sciences at the Nottingham University. 


Please introduce your city.

Essen is a modern business, commercial and service metropolis with 590.000 inhabitants in the heart of the Ruhr Metropolis with 5.4 Million people. The successful 150-year transformation story, from a city of coal and steel to the European Green Capital 2017, is a role model of structural change for many cities in Europe.
Essen is home to the headquarters of some of Germany’s biggest companies, e.g. RWE AG, Thyssen-Krupp, E.ON, Karstadt Warenhaus GmbH, Evonik Industries AG, and Hochtief AG. What confuses many visitors who see the modern skyline of Essen is that the history of the city is older than that of e.g. Berlin, Dresden or Munich. In 2002, Essen celebrated the 1150th jubilee of the convent and City of Essen.

Being European Green Capital 2017 Essen will showcase sustainable urban development, to share and promote best practices that have been tried and tested. In this context Essen over 300 citizens’ projects and events will be realised in 2017.

Why are you participating at CAN? Please describe the current situation and the problems you are facing.

Essen wants to be a blueprint for NWE cities that can achieve great things under difficult budget conditions and with limited financial resources.
Realising energy savings, increasing energy efficiency and expand use of renewable energies and cogeneration are the central components of the climate mitigation strategy of the City of Essen, under the aegis of klima|werk|stadt|essen. The CAN projects helps to address all three issues.
The success of local climate mitigation action is substantially dependent on the participation of building owners, companies, and the population. In CAN Essen can learn from other NWE Cities approaches and implement and test programmes to empower the citizens towards more climate-conscious behaviour by developing a culture of climate mitigation.
With low rates of new construction, the retro-fitting of existing buildings is of decisive importance. The specific objective for retrofitting Essen enunciated in its successful application for European Green Capital 2017 is to achieve a quotient of 2.5%-3% p.a.. Of the various obstacles to renovation in Essen, the landlord/tenant dilemma is of particular importance, due to the very high proportion of rental housing. Particularly in the structurally weak districts of North Essen, owners are seldom able to raise basic rent levels and realise a return on their investments. Thus Essen is trying to develop new instruments to support decisions for energy efficiency investments of private house owners.

How will you tackle the problems? Please describe your approach and your tasks within the project.

Essen uses the aegis of klima|werk|stadt|essen to pursue integrated, sustainable and climate-friendly urban development through the dual strategy of "mitigation and adaptation". We take climate mitigation action as an opportunity to develop the economic core of the Ruhr Metropolis in an exemplary and sustainable manner. As „European Green Capital 2017“ Essen empowers the citizens to establish a new „ culture of local climate action“ and collaborates with bottom-up-initiatives, local science and business as well as politics and authorities. The key to achieving climate mitigation targets is the comprehensive participation of the urban community. In order to network the many different stakeholders for a new culture of local climate action, the Essen Climate Agency was founded in 2012. In CAN it provides advisory services, supports projects, organises information campaigns and events, and builds networks. By connecting people and ideas and bringing together all climate-actions of the urban community, it supports stakeholders on every level. One central service of the Climate Agency is the energy efficiency partner system (partnership project with Kreishandwerkerschaft Essen) to help landlords to get around prevalent reservations. As another practical approach, Essen is going to merge the creative potential (artists and creative-business) and the urban development-activities with the dynamic and the targets of a growing „European Green Capital 2017“-movement in in the City-North-quarter, a deprived but highly pulsating district. New ideas for local climate action will be actually tried out in “Living Labs”.

Please describe your first steps.

The CAN Project will concentrate on one or two districts in Essen. The key to achieve the projects targets is the comprehensive participation and empowerment of the neighbourhoods. As a first step Essen analysed possible neighbourhoods and selected the City-North. Not only the building and social structures were analysed, but especially the needs and engagement potential of bottom-up initiatives. In order to do so we organised events to get in close touch and engage with neighbourhood and residents groups (incl. migrants associations) and muliplicators already in the analysis phase, to find initiative triggers and identify areas of highest need.
A new form of collaboration between the local authority and the various stakeholders requires the development of new and optimised organisational models to share more responsibility. We co-create this governance with bottom-up initiatives as well as energy and housing agencies. The challenge is the empowerment of local neighbourhoods while securing coherence of bottom-up activities and city-wide strategies. We try to form strategic partnerships between the local authority, identified neighbourhood groups and private and public services.
At the moment we are developing detailed plans and scheduling of behaviour change programmes, especially to comprise the neighbourhood as a Living lab for GHG reduction.

What results do you expect? How can other municipalities benefit from your experiences?

With the target of reducing CO2 emissions by 40% before 2020, Essen goes significantly beyond the EU targets, and wishes to be a role model. By 2050, Essen will be a low-carbon city, and will have reduced emissions by 95%, thus exceeding the German national targets.
I feel that the comprehensive empowerment of the local stakeholders is a common challenge in NWE cities. I expect we will have created viable financing schemes and activation tools to empower bottom-up initiatives in delivering GHG emission reduction at the end of CAN.
Especially the activation tools for behaviour change that will be developed, implemented and evaluated, such as the living lab in Essen will help to deliver improved energy standards and GHG emission reduction in deprived neighbourhoods - not only in Essen and the partner locations but throughout Europe.
I think it is key to understand climate mitigation as a shared task between neighbourhoods and local authorities and a contribution for improvement of quality of life. CAN will contribute to develop this new culture of local climate action in Essen and NWE.

Plymouth City Council

Contact person

Paul Elliott

01752 307574 

My name is Paul Elliott and I’m a low carbon city officer for Plymouth City Council. I have been working on domestic energy efficiency schemes with the council for the last 8 years and am now project manager for the CAN project. 


Please introduce your city.

Plymouth City Council is a unitary local authority in the South West of England. We provide services and governance for our a population of 256,000 residents, who live in approximately 115,000 dwellings.

Why are you participating at CAN? Please describe the current situation and the problems you are facing.

The CAN project allows us tackle housing related issues concerning a reduction in carbon emissions. Plymouth has a large number of older properties that are thermally inefficient and costly to insulate (approx. £8,000 on average). There is also a lack of awareness within the community around what action residents can take to reduce fuel poverty, poor energy efficiency, and domestic carbon emissions.

15,000 households in Plymouth are suffering from Fuel Poverty. Fuel poverty in England is measured using the Low Income High Costs (LIHC) indicator. Under the LIHC indicator, a household is considered to be fuel poor if:

  • they have required fuel costs that are above average (the national median level)
  • were they to spend that amount, they would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line.

Households suffering in fuel poverty are at greater risk to health conditions such as Asthma, Cardiovascular problems, mobility issues, and mental health issues. There are also strong links between low educational attainment for children and houses in fuel poverty. Plymouth also suffers an average of 140 excess winter deaths each year – that is deaths that can be solely attributed to the colder temperatures in the winter.
Previous ‘top down’ approaches to tackling energy efficiency have had limited success. The UK government’s energy company obligation (ECO) insulated some lofts and cavity walls but was costly to administrate and did not give householder a good level of customer service/satisfaction. The most recent policy vehicle ‘ the Green Deal’ was withdrawn after it received very little interest from householders. This leaves a policy vacuum in terms of financing and delivering energy efficiency.
It is hoped that the CAN project will play a part in addressing address the above issues.

How will you tackle the problems? Please describe your approach and your tasks within the project.

We hope to engage our communities and make them more aware of their energy use and carbon emissions. We will do this by providing them with an in home assessment which will detail the measures and behaviour change they can implement in order to see a reduction. We will also offer free simple measures to the householder such as LED lights, heating controls, and draft proofing as a method of engaging them in the first instance. The project will also recruit and train upto 30 volunteers who will receive training to increase their skills and knowledge around domestic energy reduction.

Please describe your first steps.

We have identified our target areas of the city. We have also commissioned a report to help understand the key messages that households are likely to respond to around an energy efficiency scheme. This report also identifies the key points we need to record to successfully evaluate the programme. We have written the procurement in order to procure a delivery partner and are expecting to award that contract in the spring.

What results do you expect? How can other municipalities benefit from your experiences?

We hope to see 1,000 households engage with the programme and benefit from the simple measures we are offering. The learning from this for other organisations will be focussed around how best to engage with communities over matters of carbon reduction and energy use. This will also include which groups of people respond best to certain messages, as well as which routes are best to get those messages across.

Stadt Worms

Contact person

Katharina Reinholz

+49 (6241) 853 – 3507

Katharina Reinholz studied Environmental Sciences (B.Sc.) and Sustainable Economics (M.A.) and since 2015 she works as climate protection manager in Worms.


Please introduce your city.

The city of Worms is a local authority for 80,000 inhabitants. The mainly in CAN involved department ‘environment and agriculture’ cares about the governmental protection of species, water, soil and air, the organisation of the agricultural areas as well as environmental consulting and climate protection measures. Worms is highly engaged in local climate protection and adaptation and developed the climate protection and energy efficiency concept “KLIK” in 2010, which is the basis for the participation in CAN.

Why are you participating at CAN? Please describe the current situation and the problems you are facing.

In the years 2012 to 2014 the City of Worms participated in the EU Interreg project „RENERGY - Regional Strategies for Energy Conscious Communities“ and was impressed by the effective exchange of experiences. To this exchange the City of Worms wants to contribute with its wide experiences in local climate protection. Furthermore, the main topic of CAN, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in existing residential building stock, is highly relevant for the city of Worms, which has several quarters with buildings from the 1950 and 1960. These quarters were built after the Second World War when more housing space was needed. The buildings there have a poor energy efficiency and use many times more energy than modern buildings. Insulation, new windows and doors or new heating systems as well as energy-saving behaviour could improve the living standard of the habitants and reduce CO2 emissions. But often people in these neighbourhoods don’t know anything about the poor conditions of their homes. With our project “Energy Caravan Plus” we focus on this problem and try to make people aware of their possibilities.

How will you tackle the problems? Please describe your approach and your tasks within the project.

With its project “Energy Carvan Plus” the city uses an effective face-to-face approach to inform house owners about their energy-saving potentials. After choosing an appropriate neighbourhood, energy consultants offer a free one-hour energy advice to the house owners. They get information about the energetic condition of their homes and the potential measures. Additionally, information about government-funded incentives is given. To develop the project further it is envisaged to give also recommendations on energy efficient behaviour for interested house owners, like saving hot water or reasonable heating and airing.

Please describe your first steps.

The “Energy Caravan Plus” will be repeated annually and each year we start with an analysis of the previous campaign. We analyse the outcome and think about potential changes. To come in contact with people from the quarters, we send out an invitation letter from the mayor, put up posters in the streets and organise a kick-off event for all interested house owners. During this event also the neighbours can come in contact with each other and talk about the topic of energetic building refurbishment. After that, the energy consultants start their work and get in contact with people by a phone call and organise an appointment. In the next 2 years we will expand our activities for the Energy Caravan and try out different tools like thermographic pictures and behaviour changing methods.

What results do you expect? How can other municipalities benefit from your experiences?

As our annual evaluation points out, 16.9 % of the habitants make use of the free energy advice and 77 % of the advised house owners implemented measures in the year after the consultation or planned to do so. We expect that with new concepts for the “Energy Caravan Plus” more house owners are interested in the advice and that still more of them put measures into effect.
Other municipalities can benefit from our long year experience in this field of face-to-face approach.


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