Horizon Magazine – “Finnish and French cities chart Europe’s path to clean energy” article about RESPONSE

In an interview about Europe’s path to clean energy, Monjur Murshed and David Goujon from EIFER – European Institute for Energy Research, talked about RESPONSE to the Horizon Magazine.

The coordinators of the project shared how Turku and Dijon, the Lighthouse Cities of RESPONSE, are among a group of cities seeking to become climate-neutral by 2030, two decades before the European goal.

“In 2029, Finland’s oldest city, Turku, will celebrate reaching the grand old age of 800. At the same time, it hopes to reach another major milestone – becoming climate-neutral. The French city of Dijon 2 000 kilometres away hopes to achieve the same goal by 2030.

The two are part of the Cities Mission – an EU initiative to create 100 climate-neutral cities by the end of this decade. Turku and Dijon are also flagship members of the EU-funded RESPONSE project to help cities chart the path toward clean energy.”

Please read the full article here:


RESPONSE Press Conference: Dijon Metropole, European demonstrator for collective self-consumption

From October 18 to 20, Dijon hosted the RESPONSE Consortium meeting, which brings together all the partners in this European project on positive energy districts. It includes representatives of the cities that will replicate the solutions currently being tested in Fontaine d’Ouche and Turku (Finland).

A new concrete phase in the deployment of the project has begun: the production of the solar equipment at the Buffon school. Soon, more than 500 homes with 1,100 inhabitants in the Fontaine d’Ouche district will also benefit from solar energy, making it the largest self-consumption operation in France.

The two-day event concluded with a press conference attended by François Rebsamen, Mayor of Dijon, and President of Dijon Metropole, who signed the collective self-consumption agreement with Enedis. This was an opportunity to present the project, to show the district, and to answer the questions of the 40 journalists present. In total, several dozen articles in the local, regional, and national press were published, with a TV report on the regional news.

RESPONSE Consortium meeting held in Dijon attended by RESPONSE city administrators and partners

RESPONSE Consortium at the open session – Source: Ville de Dijon

The three days event was held in the city of Dijon, in Dijon, France between 18-20 October 2022. The main objectives were i) to create links and federate around the project; ii) to get to know the Fellow cities better and strengthen their collaboration with the Lighthouse cities and the horizontal partners of the project; iii) enable the Fellow cities to better understand the innovative solutions implemented in the Lighthouse cities, and discuss together their replication.

The first day started with the workshop “How to optimise the project’s communication and outreach” led by Dijon Métropole and Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovação (SPI) and a session focused on the presentation of the Innovative Elements in LHCs led by EDF, Dijon Métropole and City of Turku. The first day ended with a guided tour to the historic city center and a joint dinner.

Presentation of the Innovative Elements in LHCs – Source: Ville de Dijon

In the second day the partners were able to do a walking visit to the Positive Energy District (PED) in Fontaine d’Ouche and the solar power plant on the roof of the Buffon school.

Positive Energy District (PED) in Fontaine d’Ouche
Positive Energy District (PED) in Fontaine d’Ouche

n the afternoon, more sessions were conducted by Centre for Research & Technology Hellas (CERTH), EIFER – European Institute for Energy Research, Dijon Métropole, EDF, City of Turku and Fundación Circe, focused on “How to support cities in citizen empowerment” and “Business model canvas: gathering feedback from cities and partners”.

Workshop sessions and Permanent booths: presentation of the Innovative Elements in LHCs – Source: Ville de Dijon

The 2nd Consortium Plenary Board meeting of the RESPONSE project took place on the last day of the event (20th October). This meeting was organized as a hybrid event and hosted by the Dijon Métropole.

2nd Consortium Plenary Board meeting of the RESPONSE project – Source: Ville de Dijon

To close the 3 days event some RESPONSE partners and the Lighthouse cities and Fellow cities representatives went for a PEBs tour and press conference with the presence of François Rebsamen, Mayor of Dijon and President of Dijon Métropole.

Sustainable mobility and air quality workshop in Turku PED area

The 2nd Environmental workshop organized by the Citizen engagement work package in Turku brought together the PED residents and RESPONSE partners at the student village on the 27th of October. In the event, the participants were engaged to help develop e-mobility issues in the PED and the Air quality journey planner together with the RESPONSE partners from Turku UAS, the City of Turku, Finnish meteorological institute and University of Turku.

The workshop participants were given the opportunity to test electric bikes and an electric cargo bike. The bikes were provided for testing by local bike provider Onnipyörä Turku. Many of the participants had not tried electric bikes before and were surprised how easy it was to ride and how lightweight the riding felt. However, they noticed also potential issues, as it is easy to drive very fast with the bikes and especially the e-cargo bike needs a lot of space to turn. These and many other topics were discussed during the workshop. 

Workshop participants were able to test electric bikes in the event

The participants made a trip together, using the Air quality journey planner application. The trip was made by foot and bike, using also the shared city bikes, Fölläri. The user can choose their route between the best air quality, the greenest and least hilly route on the journey planner. The trip was made by using the greenest route and the participants enjoyed beautiful riverside views despite the light rain. 

The journey planner was further developed in one of the workshops. During the workshop, the visual appearance of the application was decided, and the participants could give feedback on the app under development. More information about the conditions on the route was desired, such as slipperiness, temperature and windiness, as well as the duration of the chosen route. Information on traffic obstructions, such as construction sites or re-routing of cycleways was also desired. The duration of the chosen route and the user’s location were also seen as important additions. Overall, the journey planner got good feedback and the routes suggested by the app were found to be useful. 

Feedback of the Air quality journey planner was collected via forms and voting

On the other workshop, sustainable mobility issues in the Student village PED area were discussed. The participants were asked to think about practicalities regarding mobility in the area, ie. what works well and what doesn’t. After a short discussion, the participants were asked to imagine an ideal future in terms of sustainable mobility. A lively discussion followed, after which the participants were introduced to ways to advocate mobility related initiatives in the city of Turku.  

Altogether 30 students and PED residents took part in the workshop. The atmosphere on the event was relaxed and the participants enjoyed the discussion about sustainable mobility and air quality – as well as the vegan hot dog buffet that was served.  

Sustainable mobility issues were discussed in the workshop

Text: Heidi Heikkilä, Annika Kunnasvirta, Katariina Kiviluoto / Pictures: Heidi Heikkilä

On October 11th, during EU Regions Week 2022, the RESPONSE workshop “A fair energy transition: developing PEDs in deprived areas” held great discussions about energy solutions.

The speakers Sarah Bello and Jean-Patrick Masson from Dijon Métropole, Fabian Maingain from City of Brussels, and Eric Tourte from EDF Bourgogne Franche Comté, talked about projects in the Fontaine d’Ouche district in Dijon and in the Northern Districts of Brussels, as partner cities in the framework of Horizon 2020 project RESPONSE.

We would like to thank all speakers, the moderator Lea Kleinenkuhnen, RESPONSE project coordinator in Brussels, and all participants, for their presence and interaction.

EU Week of Regions and Cities RESPONSE online workshop: A fair energy transition: developing PEDs in deprived areas 11 October 2022 | 16.30-18.00 (CET)

In the framework of EU week of regions and cities, Dijon Metropole together with EDF and Brussels City will host an online workshop – A fair energy transition: developing PEDs in deprived areas.

They will demonstrate their PEDs projects in the Fontaine d’Ouche district in Dijon and in the Northern Districts of Brussels, as partner cities in the framework of H2020 project RESPONSE. The workshop will focus on the social aspect and the integration of territories in the energy transition.

11 October 2022 | 16.30-18.00 (CET)

Don’t miss it – register now!

Link to register: https://eu.app.swapcard.com/event/euregionsweek-2022/planning/UGxhbm5pbmdfOTYwNTI4

RESPONSE Webinar#2 – Local Energy Supply Low Carbon & High Share of Renewables

On September 19th 2022, the RESPONSE project hosted the second webinar, RESPONSE – Local Energy Supply Low Carbon & High Share of Renewables. The webinar aims to increase public awareness of RESPONSE and to create new links between organizations and enable learning and knowledge exchange processes, especially between Lighthouse and Fellow cities. The webinar was attended by 25 participants from different organisations.

The webinar record is available on RESPONSE’s Youtube channel.

Here  you can find the presentation used during the webinar.

Three days of valuable exchange and PED visits – Ecosystem Meeting Gathered Partners in Turku

Partners from all over Europe and Finland travelled to Turku in June 2022 to attend the RESPONSE Turku Ecosystem Meeting. The meeting, the first of its kind was co-hosted by the partners City of Turku, Turku UAS, VTT and Turku Energia. The meeting brought together partners from the two Lighthouse Cities, Turku and Dijon, and from the Fellow Cities, Brussels, Zaragoza, Botoșani, Severdonetsk and Gabrovo.

The first day of the three-day event was dedicated to the project’s local citizen participation activities and knowledge transfer. The city of Turku’s climate plan and the RESPONSE mentors’ actions were presented as well as how citizens, such as students and the Positive Energy District (PED) residents, encourage others to reduce their energy usage and impact on the environment. The knowledge transfer also included a panel discussion in which the topic of joint transformation and collaboration between the city and its citizens was discussed.

“Concrete steps for joint transformation – How can the city and citizens make a difference” panel discussion.

On the second day, the guests learned about the various energy solutions implemented in the PED area. The presentation topics ranged from decarbonizing electrical grid network to increased renewable energy solution generation on buildings. For example, bi-facial solar panels are going to be installed on the roof of the brand new Tyyssija building that will contain also several other solutions designed and developed in the RESPONSE project. The electricity produced by the solar panels is used in Tyyssija and in other buildings that will be connected to a microgrid. The leftover energy will be stored in batteries, allowing a more flexible use of surplus energy.

Partners waiting for the PED Guided Tour to begin at the Tyyssija inner yard

To familiarize themselves with the PED area and its Positive Energy Buildings (PEB), the partners enjoyed a guided PED tour. The PED area, is located in the student housing area called “Student Village”, owned and maintained by partner TYS. During the guided tour, the partners got to know the history of the PED area which dates back to the 60’s and visit the machine room of the Tyyssija building.

On the last day the e-mobility, city information and air quality solutions were presented. An important part of the project is to encourage citizens to choose mobility means that consume less fossil fuels, such as bicycling and electric cars. The fossil fuels also affect the air quality in the cities, the air quality’s effect on people’s health and wellbeing in significant ways. To make the air quality issues more visible and to further support alternative means of transport, an app for choosing the healthiest, greenest and least hilly route is being developed within the project.

The meeting made it possible for the entire Turku Ecosystem, the lead partner, as well as for the Dijon and Fellow city representatives to get a concrete picture of the progress of the RESPONSE activities in the Turku PED.

Text by Heidi Heikkilä (Turku UAS) & Sini Lamoureux (City of Turku)

Photos by Christina Piirainen (City of Turku)

The first face to face RESPONSE meeting held in Brussels attended by RESPONSE city administrators and partners

The city of Brussels hosted the first RESPONSE meetings attended by 35 participants from RESPONSE city administrators and partners on March 7-8, 2022. The programme includes a series of workshops on replication roadmaps and stakeholder engagement, steering committee meetings, and a site visit at the Brussel PED area located in the Northern District.

During the first day, the participants were received at the Brussels city hall. RINA Consulting facilitated the workshop on replication roadmaps where the Fellow Cities (FC) of Gabrovo (Bulgaria), Brussels (Belgium), Botosani (Romania), Zaragosa (Spain) and Ptolemaida (Greece) [online] presented the progress and barriers encountered in developing their replication roadmaps. Common issues are about citizen engagement, institutional complexities, lack of financial resources, inefficient project management, lack of information about the innovative elements, and further aggravated by the COVID 19 pandemic. Lighthouse City (LC) representatives Hadrien Rouchette from Dijon (France) and Olena Zinchuk and Sini Lamoureux from Turku (Finland) were also present to guide the FCs on the roadblocks encountered and offered support in the development process.

(left) Lea Kleinenkuhnen, WP8 lead from City of Brussels presented the roadblocks encountered in the development of replication roadmap as FC. (right) Fabian Maingain, Alderman of Smart City of Brussels delivers his welcoming speech at the social gathering.

After the workshop, the participants had the privilege to have a guided tour inside the city hall presenting the history of the city and how the iconic heritage building transformed to what it is today. Fabian Maingain, the Alderman of Smart City of Brussels, welcomed all the guest in a toast in support of the PED initiatives co-created by the European cities involved in the RESPONSE project. He also sent a message of solidarity from the project partners from the Ukrainian partner city of Severodonetsk who could not join the meeting.

On the second day, the participants attended the RESPONSE steering committee meeting and visited the future PED area of Brussels located in the city’s Northern District.

The participants were enthusiastic to learn about the different PED related initiatives being implemented by private, public and non-governmental organizations. The private-led initiative ZIN building is a multi-functional building currently under construction which will be energy neutral and strongly focused on material circularity. The so-called “Contrat de Quartier” (Neighborhood contract) is a unique city instrument by the Brussels Region that aims at improving the living environment in precarious neighborhoods with a fixed budget and schedule. One of these projects that is currently being implemented in the Northern District was presented by the City of Brussels. It includes the renovation of building stock, redevelopment of green spaces and local activities that promote social cohesion. One of these social cohesion projects was presented in greater detail by City Mine(d), a non-profit organization that is starting to mobilise the residents of a social housing estate in the area around energy communities. Chloé Verlinden from City Mine(d) shared her insights on a bottom-approach to raise awareness on energy questions. The walk ended in a lunch at local kitchen serving vegetarian staples.       

(left) Participants at the ZIN building construction site (right) Chloé Verlinden of City Mine(d) sharing their initiatives on mobilizing the neighborhood around energy communities.

The afternoon session was dedicated to a workshop on stakeholder and citizen engagement. The representatives from LC and other partners highlighted their initiatives in engaging the citizen and the whole local ecosystem. Focused group discussions were conducted to co-create solutions on the common barriers on engagement, as well as a reflection of the immediate steps that can be taken as soon as the participants went back home to their respective cities.

(left) group discussion on co-creating solutions for citizen engagement (right) Ritva Salminiitty, RESPONSE’s Citizen Engagement Manger sharing Turku’s citizen engagement initiatives

Path to the replication started

The assessment of replication potentialities carried out during the first stage of RESPONSE led to the identification of actions to be developed in the city.

The analysis carried out in the first stage of the project highlighted some actions to be taken in line with the overall objective of RESPONSE. One of the most ambitious projects is the revitalization of a 1960’s-built workers neighborhood and its integration within a Positive Energy District framework. Overall, up to 1,350 households in 130 buildings are to be rehabilitated. The rehabilitation consists of installation of highest possible amount of RES generation (photovoltaic) on building level. Also, social measures such as accessibility improvements including up to 107 elevators will be implemented. The measure is supported by the already valuable experiences gained from the revitalization of 17 buildings. The architectural style of the neighborhood is based on blocks with a patio and 3 or 4 portals each one, hence, the implementation is done at a block level. The project will be presented at the end of 2021 and is planned to be executed by 2022.

Text – Breogan Sanchez
Photo (Creative Commons Licence)