The breadth and coverage of analytical expertise in the IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs) are unique assets that underpin IEA efforts to support innovation for energy security, economic growth and environmental protection. The 38 TCPs operating today involve about 6 000 experts from government, industry and research organisations in more than 50 countries1.

Buildings and Communities (EBC TCP)


Guiding successful urban energy planning

The EBC TCP provides high quality scientific reports and summary information for policy makers on integrated planning and building design; building energy systems; building envelopes; community-scale methods; and real building energy use. Given national emissions targets, local decision makers must define strategies and implement programmes to integrate energy planning into urban and economic planning. 

An example of integrated energy and urban planning (Rieselfeld district, Freiburg, Germany).*

To achieve national GHG-reduction targets, urban decision makers and planning departments are at the forefront of implementing the programmes necessary to deploy clean energy technologies and energy efficiency measures. Yet there is often a gap between urban planning and energy planning. There may also be a lack of co-ordination between municipalities, communities and neighbourhoods. 

For these reasons, the EBC TCP set out to analyse barriers to integrated energy and urban planning and to identify possible solutions. The project builds on investigative discussions with 20 municipal planning departments in the 11 countries participating in the project. These discussions led to an in-depth understanding of the specific concerns faced by municipalities in linking climate and energy issues to urban planning.

The case studies revealed a number of barriers, including most importantly a lack of access to relevant knowledge (energy systems analysis, process management), a lack of municipal management structures and resources, a low level of understanding of the importance of such structures and a lack of sustained commitment on the part of important local stakeholders. A lack of specialised monitoring equipment and qualified personnel for commissioning and optimal operation of the systems was also identified. Lastly, poor performance of the installed technologies resulted in inadequate integration of the various system components.

To overcome these barriers, policy strategies, planning tools and implementation instruments were identified to help local decision makers, project developers and urban planners. For example, standard “design, build and operate” contracts, which combine public ownership and financing of projects with private-sector funded design, building and operation, were identified as a means of mitigating the performance risk that is passed to the contractor. Close co-operation with experienced contractors in the design, operation and implementation phases were found to reduce performance risk as well as costs.

Furthermore, enhanced co-ordination between local planners and private investors was found to increase a municipality’s understanding of the management requirements. By developing a comprehensive long term local energy strategy, municipalities could guide market participants to make the right decisions at the right time – and lower costs.  The conclusions and lessons learned from the case studies are compiled in the report, Energy Efficient Communities: Case Studies and Strategic Guidance for Urban Decision Makers.

* Photo courtesy of Salzburger Institut für Raumordnung und Wohnen (SIR)


  • Adaptive thermal comfort in low-energy buildings
  • Air infiltration and ventilation centre
  • Cooling with ventilation
  • Deep energy retrofits of public buildings
  • Embodied energy and emissions with construction
  • Energy efficient retrofitting
  • Energy flexible buildings
  • Energy strategies in communities
  • High-temperature cooling, low-temperature heating
  • Indoor air quality in low-energy buildings
  • Long-term performance of super-insulating materials
  • New generation computational tools
  • Occupant behaviour simulation
  • Optimised renovation for energy and CO2 emissions
  • Reliable energy performance characterisation


  IEA member 
Contracting Parties  25  3  -
Sponsors -  -

For more information:

1. Information or material of the IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes, or IEA TCPs (formally organised under the auspices of an Implementing Agreement), including information or material published on this website, does not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or of the IEA’s individual Member countries. The IEA does not make any representation or warranty (express or implied) in respect of such information (including as to its completeness, accuracy or non-infringement) and shall not be held liable for any use of, or reliance on, such information.