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)

Turku PEB building “Tyyssija” welcoming its first tenants in January 2022

An important component of Turku’s Positive Energy Block (PEB) – building “Tyyssija” (Eng. “Haven”) is about to enter a new chapter. Starting from January 2022 it will host its very first tenants. “Tyyssija” is one of the Turku Student Village Foundation’s (TYS) many residential buildings located in Turku’s Positive Energy District (PED). TYS was founded in 1966 by the Student Union of the University of Turku, Since then, the Foundation’s mission has been to build, renovate, rent and maintain apartments for students.

The architecture tendering for “Tyyssija” begun in 2017 and in April 2020 the construction was commenced. Identical to the City of Turku, the Foundation aims to be carbon neutral by 2029. Risto Siilos the CEO of TYS points out that the carbon neutrality objective and the synergies supported by RESPONSE were some of the main incentives for the Foundation to join the project. A significant share of the RESPONSE project solutions in Turku either have or will be implemented in the “Tyyssija” building. One of the solutions visible for tenants is the human thermal sensation control system provided by Egain. It envisions indoor sensors, equal in size to a box of matches, installed in all apartments. The sensors will measure and distribute information about relative temperature and humidity levels, thus supporting optimization of indoor temperatures and predictability of temperature changes. Another example are the bifacial solar panels provided by Solar Finland, planned to be installed in spring 2022 on the roof of “Tyyssija” on a flat roof mounting system. This will enable light reflecting from the roof to reach the backside of the solar panel, allowing an even greater generation of solar powered energy. With gym-, restaurant-, grocery store-and office facilities, “Tyyssija” will serve as the heart of the Student Village. The objective of “Tyyssija” is also to improve the tenants’ everyday life and increase a sense of community and multiculturalism. Concrete measures for supporting these objectives are the saunas and shared spaces in “Tyyssija” available for tenants to book. The “Tyyssija” building containing 186 apartments, has risen from the ground and is soon ready to serve as an energy sustainable home for its new tenants.

Text: Sini Lamoureux, City of Turku

Photos: City of Turku and TUAS

Implementation of the ” Sustainable Energy Action Plan of Severodonetsk until 2020″ for 2020

In 2013, the city of Severodonetsk joined the Covenant of Mayors. To achieve the goals identified by the Covenant of Mayors, in 2015 the city has developed the Severodonetsk Sustainable Energy Action Plan through 2020 (SEAP). The Severodonetsk SEAP through 2020 have been outlined the main ways to achieve the goals stipulated by the obligations of the Covenant of Mayors. Follow Severodonetsk SEAP, energy-efficient measures have been introduced with the attraction of international assistance funds and the city budget. The city is actively involved in national programs and projects aimed at increasing energy efficiency. Monitoring results has shown reducing of CO2 emissions in 2020 in comparison with 2012 thanks to implementation of energy efficiency measures. Severodonetsk SEAP implementation through 2020 as of 01.01.2021, help to reduce CO2 emissions help to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 27.5% in comparison with 2012. This reducing is exceeding the planned reducing provided by Severodonetsk SEAP (according SEAP planed reducing of CO2 emissions was 21.4%).

Regional Development Agency of Lugansk Region

Consortium Plenary Board Meeting

The first Consortium Plenary Board meeting of the RESPONSE Project was held on 19th October 2021. During this fruitful one-day virtual event, more than 90 attendees discovered the achievements made during the first year of the project and got informed about the ongoing issues.
During the morning session, an overview of the ongoing activities within the two Lighthouse cities Turku and Dijon were presented. Then the Fellow cities Ptolomedia, Gabrovo, Botosani, Severodonesk and Brussels presented the ambitions of their replication activities. During the afternoon session, each Work Package leader gave an update on the tasks and deliverables of each Work Package Finally, the project coordinators introduced some ongoing issues and gave an administrative follow-up of the project.
This event was a good occasion for the board members to supervise the project progress and decide upon all relevant technical and administrative issues.

Partners of Dijon Metropole at the Consortium Plenary Board Meeting

Text – David Goujon
Suzie Besset

Partnership agreement “cuisine mode d’emploi(s)” and Enedis

Veronique Carrion (Executive Director – Cuisine Mode d’Emploi(s)” and Nadia Murat-Faustin (Côte-d’Or Territorial Delegate and RESPONSE Project Leader – Enedis) signed a five years partnership on 28th October 2021. This signing took place in Dijon’s priority neighbourhood called “Fontaine d’Ouche”. Children will visit Cuisine Mode d’Emploi(s) during school trips where they’ll have the chance to discover Cuisine Mode d’Emploi(s)’s offers. Nadia Murat-Faustin, Côte-d’Or Territorial Delegate and RESPONSE Project Leader – Enedis, said “As the pilot of the RESPONSE project for Enedis, I confirm that by signing this agreement with the association “Cuisine mode d’emploi(s)”, which is located in the Fontaine d’Ouche district, we are concretely enhancing our involvement in the Empowerment (citizen involvement) aspect of the RESPONSE project. Beyond the ecological and energetic aspect of the RESPONSE project, it is important to make RESPONSE an opportunity for each inhabitant of the district in terms of education, training and employment, and this is the very meaning of our action today. We are part of a long-term partnership with Cuisine mode d’emploi throughout the five years of the project and beyond.”

Thomas Deweer (Up4North)

Towards a District Heating Cold Network in the Brussels North District

On Tuesday 9th November the City of Brussels and Up4North invited decision makers and various relevant stakeholders to exchange on the set-up of a district heating and cooling network in the Brussels North District. Such a network is identified as an important solution to pave the way to turn the district in a Positive Energy District. Looking into the feasibility, the seminar participants explored the solutions proposed by the lighthouse cities of Turku and Dijon. In a second part, two smaller groups worked on a detailed map of the district and mapped the specific opportunities linked to the district. To further develop concrete solutions, it is clear that a multilevel and multi complex approach is needed. Therefore the third part of the seminar was dedicated to this topic. Thanks to this fruitful exchange, it became clear there are many opportunities to establish a district heating and cooling network. The district is in full transition with many investments and construction works planned in the coming years. All participants agree that these future works need to be mutualised, the time to act is now. After this first exchange vital relationships have been built. The next step is to set up a pilot group to drive a district heating and cooling network, one of the keys to transform the Brussels North District into a Positive Energy District.

In Brussels Response strives to turn the North District into a sustainable neighbourhood with a rich biodiversity and producing more energy than it consumes. To achieve this the project partners aim to set up a district heating and cold (DHC) network in the North District that would allow participants to mutualize the consumption and the production of energy. The seminar organized on the 9th November had the ambition to be the first step in the process to set up a DHC in the North District. It brought together the various stakeholders to:

  • Get inspired by the best practices in the city of Turku and Dijon
  • Exchange on the opportunities in the North District today
  • Dialogue on the need for a common multilevel and multicompetence approach to tackle the complexity of such an endeavour.

Thanks to this fruitful exchange, it is clear there are many opportunities to establish a district heating cold network. The district is in full transition with many investments and works planned in the coming years. All participants agree that future works need to be mutualised, the time to act is now. After this first exchange vital relationships have been build. The next step is to set up a pilot group to drive a district heating-cold network. One thing is clear, if the Brussels North District wants to be transformed into a Positive Energy District, then a district heat and cold network is key.

Thomas Deweer (Up4North)

Peer mentoring engages citizens in Turku

Citizens are key actors in building sustainable and resilient cities. Therefore, in the Lighthouse City Turku, one of the innovative elements applied in RESPONSE project is peer mentoring method. It comprises of a training of a group of voluntary mentors, who are all also residents of the PED area. The aim is to better reach residents, increase their awareness and bring forth their insight from their own perspective. As residents of the PED area, the peer mentors have first-hand experience of the life in the Student Village.

The concept of energy positive district (PED) may be new to many residents, and citizen engagement by mentoring makes it more comprehensible and accessible. When information travels from resident to resident, it is often easier to understand and accept. As the mentors themselves have noted, energy issues, such as how the energy is produced and how much energy they consume, are not always as visible to citizens.

In the spring 2021, 10 mentors were recruited representing different fields of study and interests from geography to energy and environmental technology and from law to innovation management. What is in common with them is the motivation to influence and work towards climate change mitigation and sustainability. Throughout the first year, mentors were introduced to the RESPONSE project, some of its technical solutions and energy issues in general. As one of their first tasks they explored how energy issues are discussed in social media and elsewhere in the web.

RESPONSE mentors have been recognized quite well in Turku and they have been interviewed to several local publications. In addition, mentors were invited in August to the Climate forum Turku, which was satellite event of the 2021 European Covenant of Mayors Ceremony. Mentor Damla Lehtinen took part in a discussion “Climate friendly Student Village” with other RESPONSE partners, TURKU PED owner TYS’ CEO Risto Siilos and Head of the heat department at Turku Energia, Jari Kuivanen.

The peer mentoring, as well as other project activities related to citizen engagement in Turku are led by Turku University of Applied Sciences (Turku UAS). More information: Ritva Salminiitty, citizen engagement manager,  and Heidi Heikkilä, project coordinator,

Mentor Damla Lehtinen gave residents´ insight to the panel discussion of climate friendly Student Village.

Treasure hunt by mentors

After a few months of background work the mentor group held its first own activity at the end of May 2021. The mentors decided to take advantage of the sunny days and organised a safe, open-air event that could be held during the pandemic. This was the perfect occasion to not only actively engage students but also present them the “energy positive” actions that have already been taken or that will take place in the student village area. The event was structured in the form of a treasure hunt, in which participants were following clues given on Instagram which led to the locations related to this project where the treasures were hidden”

The “treasures”, which included vegan, organic and fair-trade products, were hidden in 10 different locations around the Student Village. These places comprised the newest and more energy-friendly TYS buildings, spots for shared bikes and electric/hybrid cars and also areas that contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle, like the urban gardens that are for rent just next to the residential buildings.

If the participants wanted to take part in the competition, they were asked to share photos of the treasures found from each spot on Instagram. The purpose of this was to motivate the participants to find as many locations as possible and thus to learn more about the project. The idea of the event was to create something fun but also informative that would engage the residents.

The response to the event was indeed very good, many people were participating and having fun looking around for the treasures, which had all been found within only a few hours. Several people also shared their pictures in the TYS Instagram channel and gave positive feedback to the mentors. Now the challenge for the mentors is to keep up with the high expectations and organise new events. Their plans for the future include both formal and more casual events with hope to reach the young and “more distracted” tenants and also to share valuable information with everyone interested in more energy-positive living.

Mentors Martina Angeleri and Damla Lehtinen

RESPONSE mentors are voluntary residents living in Turku Student Village. Photo: Heidi Heikkilä

Webinar: RESPONSE – first actions and future plans towards Positive Energy Districts

On October 1st, 2021, the RESPONSE project hosted its first webinar, RESPONSE – first actions and future plans towards Positive Energy Districts. The webinar aimed to provide and discuss the initial experiences of the RESPONSE Partner Cities and their first steps towards achieving Positive Energy Districts.

The webinar had a wide range of speakers, including project coordinators, who presented the project, and representatives from the RESPONSE project Lighthouse and Fellow Cities, who presented their main goals, key activities during the first year of the project, expected results and upcoming actions.

The webinar, attended by 51 individuals, also had two Q&A sessions, for the Lighthouse Cities and the Fellow Cities, respectively, where participants could clarify their doubts.

For those who were not available to participate in the webinar, it is available on RESPONSE’s Youtube channel.

Here you can find the presentation used during the webinar.

During the project period, more webinars will be held, both presenting projects’ results and debating on topics relevant to the project.

Release of the First RESPONSE project newsletter

We are pleased to share with you that our First Newsletter is out now!

This newsletter reviews the first steps of the project, a brief introduction about the Lighthouse Cities and Fellow Cities which RESPONSE supports and a quick overview about our latest events, updates and results.

Find the Newsletter here: