Citizen engagement program in Sonderborg

VG-citizen engagement

Main Sector:

  • Citizen engagement


Sonderborg Municipality has as an official strategy to become a ZERO carbon emission community in 2029 with respect to all activities within the municipality area. In the community of Sonderborg, housing associations have a great part of the dwellings, between 25-35%. What these housing associations do about building retrofitting and changing the tenants’ energy consumption habits will greatly influence other citizens of Sonderborg. As such, the citizen engagement program in Sonderborg focuses on housing associations and is carried out in four main steps:

Step one:

  • establishing good cooperation between ProjectZero and the general managers of the housing associations;
  • making it possible to communicate with all the departments of the housing associations.

Step two:

  • compiling a team that will keep in contact with the tenants;
  • preparing a program for citizen engagement in cooperation with the team, as described in step three;
  • ensuring that there is a line of communication in the project between the planning team and the tenants.

Step three:

  • involving 30 families in the program so they would be aware of their energy consumption patterns;
  • building an IT platform that can track the tenants’ energy consumption;
  • using the experience of the 30 families for preparing a program that the housing associations can use for launching similar processes in other departments.

Step four:

  • launching citizen engagement in the rest of the departments of the involved housing associations; scaling up the citizen engagement activities in small groups of departments by segmenting all the tenants and making targeted communications

Pictures: Lighthouse City Sonderborg

Citizen engagement:

This solution is specifically designed for engaging housing associations and tenants in retrofitting activities. One of the main events are workshops for the tenants, enabling them to learn more about their own energy consumption. Their awareness of energy consumption will increase and it is expected that they will become more interested in energy retrofitting their apartment buildings.



Benefits from creating the project: 

  • Learning by small-scale projec
  • Establishing a platform for collaboration between the housing associations
  • Identifying problems in advance – making it possible to modify the project

Benefits from participating in the project (tenants)

  • Learning about smart consumption – lower energy bills and consumption
  • Higher living comfort – learning to use smart energy buildings
  • Behavioral change – focus on energy-efficient habits
  • Tenants/democracy – learning about the possibility to influence retrofitting projects
  • Social integration – knowledge sharing among tenants



Human resources is the main expense in citizen engagement. Some resources have also been dedicated to offering snacks at the events. The meetings have taken place at community meeting halls free of charge.

Potential for replication

The replicability potential of such a solution is high and it can be planned and implemented almost everywhere without major preconditions or barriers. However, it is critical that there is a coordinator across the housing associations

Key stakeholders for a successful project:

  • Housing association administrations and organizational boards 
  • Project coordinator
  • IT solution partner

Knowledge required:

  • Overview of the technical structure of the departments
  • Knowledge of educating a wide range of segments

Key point:

  • Create a small group across the participating housing association for identifying obstacles in advance


Peter Rathje

More information:

Picture source:
Lighthouse City Sonderborg