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Special - Spatial Planning and Energy for Communities in All Landscapes Town and Country Planning Association European Union

Knowledge Pool

Module 2: Frameworks for Spatial Planning and Energy

2.3 Programmes with relevance to spatial planning

List of relevant key words

Programme, urban development, spatial planning, action plan

Facts: brief summary of the issue presented

Programmes can be defined as organised multiple workflows, in themselves or consisting of multiple coordinated elements, the realisation of which is aimed in the end at achieving the goals of a comprehensive development plan.
The programmes may be:

  • Area, or neighbourhood level action plans, prepared for a given territory, to prepare a development action;
  • Comprehensive sectorial plans, synthesising the coordinated, purposeful future activities of a professional sector, aimed at realising of a comprehensive plan.

The programmes are themselves either parts of the system of spatial planning, such as Regional Action Programmes, or they may interact with comprehensive spatial plans, as in case of sectorial programmes.
The plans of Regional Action Programmes contain the projects to be realised, their costs and expected revenues, organisational and financial background of their implementation, and numerous other features, if necessary.
The sectorial programmes comprise the actions of a profession, a sector; coordinated preferably not only with the spatial plans, or comprehensive planning; but, in spirit of integrated approach, also broken down to steps of actions, deduced specifically from spatial plans, appropriately to the specifics of the given sector or profession.

Relevant parameters to be considered

Relevant parameters of the programmes are as follows:

Social needs underpinning the start of the programme – that is, magnitude of recipients and their consumption.

Investment requirements, sources of financing, extent of public financing, and return, of the programme.

Indirect effects of the implementation of the programme on public revenues, such as increase in taxes and levies related to consumption and employment.

Demonstrable social results of the programme – sustainable improvement of life quality of a wide array of population. It outstandingly includes job creation and investments producing larger added values and public revenues.

Environmental effects of the programme: The implementation of the programme is to permanently improve the state of several components of the environment, decrease the load on it. Relevant indicators are: rate of CO2 emission, noise, green surface, balance of waste circulation.

Besides, reflecting local particularities, a number of other parameters of the programmes may be defined, in connection to the precipitating social needs.

Detailed presentation of the core issue addressed incl. practical solutions

Methods for the integration of spatial planning and renewable energy technologies:

A two-way interaction relationship exists between spatial planning and regional, local planning of renewable energy technologies that signifies a multi-layered contextual link in everyday practice of municipalities usually preparing plans in parallel. Within this, professional and temporal coordination between various plans is to be distinguished.

As to professional content, it is a basic requirement on the one hand that spatial plans are to be prepared in consideration to energy plans; if the latter are not available, spatial planning are to ground them, for which, understanding and knowledge of the methods and steps of energy planning are indispensable. Energy planning, on the other hand, has to take into consideration the available spatial plans and to adapt to them to the possible extend.
Temporal link signifies that later plans are to consider the previous ones and to get adapted to them; if it is not possible due to professional / contextual reasons, the new plan is to be accepted only after appropriately modifying the previous one(s).

Apart from professional and temporal harmonisation, an important aspect of integration is the coordination of genres. Comprehensive plans are in general broader in terms, they contain rather the targets, the necessary direction of actions and their generously formulated circumstances; whereas operational plans are to put stress on details and correlations of implementation. It means that for instance, in case of a comprehensive energy policy aims, specific interventions, investments are to be recorded in action plans; whereas in comprehensive plans, existing decisions on energy investments are to be recorded as abstracted principles together with other planned ones possible.

Methods for the implementation of renewable energy technologies on local / regional level:

In energy conscious urban developments it is beneficial to review the range of possible interventions and the necessary and possible toolbars methodically, based on the actual situation, in similar structure.

In doing so, following the methodology of Sustainable Energy Action Plan suggested by the Covenant of Mayors, it is worth distinguishing between the data and actions related to municipal institutions, dwellings, economic buildings (such as office, commercial and service buildings) on the one hand, and industrial buildings and warehouses on the other.

As to data and plans related to energy usage of traffic, the energy usage of the car pool of the municipality, public and private (business or other) means and related necessary actions have to be separately assessed.

As to local energy production, renewable and other types, and actions related to their improvement have to be separately calculated.

In specifying the investments of energy efficient regional and local development, it is of fundamental importance that they harmonise with the scope and competence of the given municipality. Thus that first gives a scope of activities that require direct intervention by the municipality, such as buildings and vehicles belonging to the municipality, and second, that require indirect ones, which motivate the activities of other actors. Such activities are always to be adapted to the characteristics of the target group necessary to carry out the given activity. Usually, widely usable motivational tools may be the material support, in kind or in finances. Motivational tools, like awards, tenders, recognising outstanding achievements, or even awareness raising community events, school contests, require significantly lower amount of tools.

Specific solutions may be effective in case of regional governments/municipalities. Namely, we have to calculate even with such cases – within the above principles – where the given organisation forms not only its tools and motivates its populace, economic actors, but it also grants support in its territory in various constructions to municipalities that do not possess appropriate knowledge, human resources. Aside from financial supports, contributions-in-kind, such as preparation of tenders, coordination of, and communal solutions to, activities of several municipalities to obtain favourable financial instruments, may have momentous role.

It is advisable to convert the planned results of interventions into a comparable, simple indicator, such as reduction of green house gas emission – in addition to monitoring, it facilitates also the dissemination, communication of the results.

Selected planning tools and instruments:
The regional or local energy strategy, developed by JRC for the Covenant of Mayors (CoM) for the Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP), may serve as a model in its methodology for other strategies as well. Since the municipalities joining the CoM undertake 20 per cent reduction in green house gas equivalent emission, the SEAP is built up accordingly.

According to the SEAP guidebook, its preparation starts with setting up within the municipality a workgroup that ensures integrated approach.

Subsequently, substantive work starts with creating a baseline inventory, where data of energy usage of the region or settlement are to be collected with fulfilling an Excel sheet containing types of usage and energy resources, compiled by the office of CoM; these data should be converted to green house gas (GHG) equivalents according to the methods published in the handbook. Next, by estimating the energy reductions of planned energy efficient developments, the planned 2020 target conditions, the energy usage and GHG emission is to be forecast, by using the same baseline inventory excel sheet. By comparing the two results, the ratio of estimated reduction may simply be computed. In addition to the excel sheets, delineation of the planned measures and interventions is obviously necessary, in texts and graphs, with a logic similar to the sheets. The financial and human resources required to achieve the targets have to be forecast, with indication of the scheduling of implementation; the municipality has also to take a decision on these issues.

A progress report must be submitted to the CoM secretariat every two years, monitoring the progress.

Methods of stakeholder and citizen participation:

Local and regional level energy planning necessitate an increased extent of participation due to the large number of affected actors. Based on experience, it is advisable to prepare a representative survey at the beginning of the work on the energy consumption habits and relationships of the population and the small and medium enterprises. Focus group surveys may be the most practical means to map the attitudes and expectations of various target groups, such as municipal institutions and business actors; publication and public discussion of the results are also justifiable. To discuss the situation report and the suggestions of the plan, organisation of ‘urban forums’ is recommended where in addition to different target groups – e.g. municipal decision makers, officials, business actors, NGOs, communal service providers and other groups interested in planning and implementing the tasks – the possibility of commenting, contributing and participating in the planning process is available for a wide public.

Local media have a significant role in transmission of information, raising awareness, especially among the affected population. The websites of the planning actions make the prepared materials and information constantly available, thus their role is also salient in organising the participation.

Access to local small businesses may be performed with using the residential toolbar; whereas the competent staff of larger companies – who often do not reside in the affected area – are attainable through specifically designed methods, resembling the contact techniques between official organisations.

To raise interest, organisation of games, tenders, awards, contests related to the action may be important for all target groups; which in addition may boost motivation to participation as well. Thus founding of an annual ‘energy-conscious enterprise’, constantly maintaining public attention is recommended.

Planning relevant issues

A key factor in energy efficient urban development is that it works with easily measurable quantities, even when planning uses forecasts. It means that in terms of planning, quantified targets may relatively easily be set, which in turn simplifies monitoring and achievements of the objectives with the use of indicators. Thus the actual energy savings and the inherent financial benefits can be calculated fairly accurately. Therefore the energy conscious planning is eminently more advantageous for politicians and wider public than other types of spatial planning.

Collection of relevant basic information is of paramount importance, which is in practice often not simple, because monitoring of energy bills of the municipality is not part of everyday practice in many countries; their accurate processing back to several years requires a significant labour input. Determining the technical characteristics of municipal institutions is often hampered by the lack of technical assessments whatsoever of its buildings at municipality’s disposal. Their replacement not only bases planning and raises energy-consciousness, but factual detection and review of the relations often generates interventions, which as such result in improvement of the situation.

Both the costs and stimulated savings of investments of energy efficient urban development can very well be calculated that leads to two conclusions. First, the return of such programmes may be planned with great certainty and it is usually possible to assemble a suite of programmes that pays off in six to ten years, the standard scope of time in business life, with a maximum of about 50 per cent energy reduction. Second, partly following from the previous is that financing the realisation of such investments can be ensured with relatively favourable conditions from private funds.

Description of the most innovative aspects involved

Although energy conscious urban development utilises a great and increasing number of technical innovation and modern technology, see for instance the abundance of ‘smart’ labelled solutions – the real innovation appears rather in the wide and growing scale of organisational and financial solutions based on collaboration of public and private actors. In the international literature, the group of ESCO (Energy Service Company) type constructions excel among them, the essence of which is that the ESCO carries out the necessary – and profitable – investments, in its own financing scheme, based on the assessment of the situation and according to the contract with the owner; and it recovers the investment and its interest from the savings. Such solutions allow the municipalities to constantly enlarge their actions in energy rationalisation.

Details, core technical specifications

Most widespread methodology of energy efficient development strategy is the Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) methodology of the Covenant of Mayors, a European organisation, worked out by JRC. The municipalities joining the Covenant of Mayors should prepare such plans, demonstrating a minimal 20 per cent reduction green house gas emission of the area, by 2020 compared to the year fixed at the accession.

Apart from the usual, compulsorily not required textual and photo documents, to demonstrate the intended reduction, the plans have to contain an multi-sheet excel documentation that helps to review the advancement of the conditions of the local housing stock (municipal institutions, residential dwellings, commercial and service buildings, public lighting), vehicles (municipal car pool, public transport, business and private transport) and local energy production of the area of the municipality.

Innovations and social aspects

It is in the essence of SEAP that the municipality has to modernise not only its own institution, car pool, but it also has to undertake tasks, which result in triggering the similar activities and willingness of other actors.