Baltic Smart City Areas for the 21st century

October 2017 -
September 2020


Policy area:
2. Natural resources 2.3 Energy efficiency


The idea of the project is to bring together authorities, energy providers and citizens within their city districts to find and apply the best solutions for saving energy, thus decreasing CO2 emissions. To achieve this, the project enables local and regional authorities from cities around the Baltic Sea to run cooperative planning processes. Such processes help authorities to work together across different sectors, to understand citizens’ motives and barriers, and to activate relevant players in city neighbourhoods.



Addressed challenge

Cities play a key role in reaching European energy efficiency targets and climate goals. Yet, the transition towards low-emission cities is often hampered by sectoral fragmentation and lack of cooperation between public authorities, energy utilities and property owners. This explains the necessity to elaborate on holistic strategies that integrate sector-based approaches and involve stakeholders in planning, decision-making and implementation processes.

Project aim

AREA 21 increases the energy efficiency of cities by developing, piloting and disseminating approaches and tools for cooperative energy planning and implementation on the level of urban districts. The project fosters the collaboration of local and regional public authorities with energy utilities and promotes the active involvement of citizens as building users and energy consumers.

Project approach

AREA 21 looks at built-up areas as integrated energy systems consisting of technical infrastructures as well as local communities of energy consumers, (potential) energy producers and partners in energy planning. The project supports the co-design of integrated approaches for energy efficiency in order to exploit the full energy savings potential of existing built-up structures, to engage energy consumers in strategic energy planning and in this way to raise awareness and promote behavioral change.

Highlights by mid-term:

The project has achieved first results in establishing Energy Improvement Districts. This novel concept for low emission urban districts is under development in seven partner cities/regions of the project. The partners from Hamburg (Germany), Tampere (Finland), Lublin (Poland), Skane (Sweden), Kohtla-Järve and Tartu (Estonia) as well as St. Petersburg (Russia) elaborated on the baseline analyses of the current status quo in terms of policy frameworks, governance structures and existing potentials for energy savings.

Next to a first draft of an “Energy Improvement District Concept”, the project partners developed guidelines on how to plan and implement such an Energy Improvement District. These guidelines will be used by municipal stakeholders outside the partnership interested in establishing the innovative approach of Energy Improvement Districts as well.

Follow-up activities

The AREA 21 project continues as AREA 21 +action.




Project Stories


€ 2.55
€ 1.89
Eni + Russia
€ 0.10
€ 0.00


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Project manager

HafenCity University Hamburg

Jörg Knieling

0049 40 42827 4530

Legal representative

HafenCity University Hamburg

Stephanie Egerland

0049 40 42828 2737

Financial manager

REM Consult

Jakob Marcks

0049 40 412 632 696

Communication manager

HafenCity University Hamburg

Kimberly Tatum

0049 40 42827 4532