Housing associations are typical for Lighthouse City Sonderborg and crucial for the green energy transition. Picture@ProjectZero

SmartEnCity Achievements in Lighthouse City Sonderborg

23 May 2022

What has Lighthouse City Sonderborg achieved during the past six and a half years of project duration? What are the main outcomes in the framework of SmartEnCity project and what has been initiated through Sonderborg's involvement in the project? Read this article and follow the exeptional journey towards zero carbon emissions of Lighthouse City Sonderborg

In April 2022, Sonderborg was selected as one of the 100 Cities in the new EU City Mission program. Sonderborg´s climate journey started in 2007 with the city council´s ambition to co-create a ZEROcarbon Sonderborg (territory) by 2029 and the creation of the ProjectZero public-private partnership as the implementing body.

The EU SmartEnCity project has since 2016 accelerated Sonderborg´s transition by enabling new important demonstration projects, co-creating a robust Roadmap2025, improving citizen engagement, strengthening data-collection/digitalization and catalysing additional climate actions.

Projects demonstrating new green solutions 

Sonderborg´s three biggest social housing associations (SAB, B42, SOBO) have been active partners in the SmartEnCity project. 110 buildings with 1,820 family-apartments (in total 98,000 m2 living area) have been energy retrofitted as part of the SmartEnCity demo-project.

The energy renovation and demonstration measures have included insulation of facades and roofs, low energy windows and doors, airtight constructions, new ventilation systems with heat recovery, new outdoor LED street lighting, automatic heating control systems and building integrated solar PV systems combined with battery storage units enabling the tenants to become energy prosumers. The total energy savings are close to 4.000 MWh per year resulting in an annual CO2-reduction of 750 tons.

Housing Associations in Lighthouse City Sonderborg are crucial for the green transition of the city. Picture@SAB

44 diesel busses were in 2017 replaced by modern & comfortable locally fuelled biogas busses. Each bus can carry 2 bikes and the new busses therefore also support green model-shift in transport. The new busses save annually the environment for 4.3 mio litres of diesel and a carbon footprint of 11,700-tons CO2.

SmartEnCity also catalysed e-mobility by establishing 24+ EV-chargers across Sonderborg enabling interesting new city EV-charging locations to offer power-charging to the growing population of Battery Electric Vehicles. The demo-action has catalysed more EV-chargers and Sonderborg was in 2021 ranked the #5 city in Denmark based on number of EV-chargers. Since 2017, the e-car population has grown by factor 22 (now 5% of car-population) meaning app. 4,300 tons of CO2 less. 

Co-creating a robust Roadmap2025

During 2018, the city council requested ProjectZero to develop a robust Roadmap2025 targeting a 75% accumulated CO2-reduction by 2025. The creation process followed the SmartEnCity toolbox, involved more than 100 local experts and stakeholders in 8 working groups. The Roadmap2025 since served as the Sonderborg Energy Action Plan and a best practice planning example in the SmartEnCity Network; it also served as a reference for the creation of the new ProjectZero Masterplan2029 which was established at the end of 2021. 

Improved citizen engagement

Majority of demonstration measures have been focused on retrofit of house association apartments. Therefore, special attention has been given to the involvement of residents, administration and the democratic (board of directors) decision structure across the house association. Special resident´s energy-courses later inspired to a Green Ambassador training program – since 2017 guided by the SmartEnCity associated Citizen Engagement Advisory Board. 

Strengthened data collection/digitalization

Based on the Telia/Tartu City Information Open Platform (CIOP), Sonderborg, since 2018, has been creating an interactive energy-data platform allowing citizens, companies, and municipal institutions to access, share and benchmark energy consumption/production data. The learning-journey has included a ZEROhack(athon) for university students and companies and improved energy-data-collection for monitoring purposes. Looking into sector-coupling opportunities, improved digitalization and use of dynamic data is now considered to be the most important challenge to achieve Sonderborg´s ambitious ZERO climate goal by 2029. 

ZEROhack(athon) to improve energy-data collection and monitoring. Picture@ProjectZero

Additional impact catalysed by the demo-projects

By 2020, Sonderborg has achieved a 51.7% carbon reduction, well on its way to achieve the ambitious ZEROcarbon goal by 2029.

The impact of the SmartEnCity project goes beyond the mentioned projects as the demo-projects, the Roadmap2025 etc. also have catalysed the construction of two new large biogas plants, 12 new biogas and electric driven garbage trucks, new EU-projects taking additional steps in e-mobility, energy retrofit of house associations etc.