We raise awareness and provide technical assistance, tailored policy advice and capacity building to help cities and governments boost the development of modern district energy systems. 

Awareness Raising

The District Energy in Cities Initiative is working to raise awareness on the opportunities and multiple benefits of district energy. We communicate best practices and inspire cities to take control of their heating and cooling sector through district energy.

The challenge is significant: new cities and districts are constantly being planned and constructed worldwide without giving full consideration to district energy, and many cities with existing district energy networks are unaware of the importance and potential of the assets they already have.

The Initiative is undertaking a global awareness raising campaign to accelerate the renaissance that district energy is currently experiencing. This is being achieved through raising the profile of district energy at climate meetings such as COP21 and COP22, convening major stakeholders for policy dialogues on district energy at international and national conferences and workshops, meeting ministers and city-stakeholders, publishing case studies and guidance on district energy and delivering webinars for a variety of stakeholders. This campaign will aim to bring to the attention of decision-makers the importance of district energy in meeting multiple energy policy objectives, to join the Initiative and to make political commitments to unlock investments.

Technical Assistance

The Initiative works with signed-up cities to identify the potential and benefits of district energy through technical assessments. Based on inputs from over 45 cities and the expertise of the Initiative’s partners the Initiative has developed its own methodology to assess a cities potential to implement district energy.

This methodology consists in undertaking two types of assessments, a district energy rapid assessment and a district energy deep dive assessment. These analysis are based on city visits, meetings with stakeholders, and follow up questionnaires.

The district energy rapid assessment will:

  • assess current and projected impact of heating/cooling demand locally
  • identify potential district energy demonstration projects in the city
  • analyse the long-term district energy potential and associated benefits (e.g. lower costs, CO2 and refrigerant emission reductions, jobs and electricity reduction, increase in local renewables etc.); and
  • examine local barriers to district energy and assess the local authority’s capacity to support a district energy project.

The district energy deep dive assessment will:

  • assess the short and long-term technical and economic potential of district energy in a city, including identification of priority and opportunity zones for new DES development or expansion, new heat/cool sources, priority network investments (rehabilitation, substations, metering, etc.);
  • identify the benefits at the local and national level of achieving this potential including economic, environmental and social benefits and how this can fit into existing environmental and energy strategies in the city;
  • examine long-term network design options including network expansion, network rehabilitation, network interconnections, transmission lines and waste heat connections;
  • analyse potential policy and regulatory options available to the city in order to accelerate DES deployment;
  • identify existing and potential barriers to the development of DES including institutional, financial, regulatory and capacity barriers;
  • analyse potential business models, funding sources and financing instruments that could be used in the city, and their benefits and limitations in accelerating DES;
  • enable the selection of a high potential district energy demonstration project and form the basis of a city’s district energy Plan.
  • Include the project specific pre-feasibility study ( including technical, financial and legal analysis) of the selected demonstration project.

Policy advice

National and local governments of signed-up cities receive tailored policy advice on how to foster the development of district energy based on the results obtained from the technical assessments and consultations with multiple stakeholders. Policy best practices are tested and adapted to each country/regional context.

Local governments receive support to develop a DES city-wide plan. The city-wide plan includes a roadmap of viable projects, policy frameworks and investments that enable the delivery the full potential of district energy in the city over the next 10 years. The Initiative works with the cities through tailored policy dialogues to ensure its adoption and integration into city planning processes.

The Initiative supports the establishment of a ‘multi-stakeholder coordination structure’ in each city conformed by vital actors to district energy development such as city planners and policymakers, local utilities and local building developers. This local coordination structure provides a platform and focal point for collaboration, leveraging the most knowledgeable experts in the local market to help design effective strategies for the acceleration of district energy.

Capacity building

As a basis of the Initiative’s approach each pilot city will be offered early training and support on the first four district energy action modules: i) incorporating district energy into a heat/cool strategy, ii) importance of multi-stakeholder coordination for development of district energy, iii) integrating district energy into local planning policy and iv) energy mapping of the city to identify long-term opportunities for district energy.

The Initiative advises on optimal next steps for each city and provide the tools, guidance, training materials and methodologies for these cities to progress towards developing strategies, energy mapping, demonstration projects and local policies that will accelerate district energy development.

All cities will receive workshop invitations, access to a Virtual Platform of training materials and tools, city twinning with global champion cities and DES Initiative partners and access to fundraising webinars with project partners and international development banks.


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