Gabrovo's Pilot City Activity: NetZeroHour



The City of Gabrovo is recognised as a frontrunner in climate and energy initiatives in Bulgaria, having reduced CO2 emissions by 32.9% by 2018 and receiving accolades such as the European Green Leaf Award in 2021.

Significant barriers still hinder effective action in energy efficiency, production, and consumption. Some of these are:

  • Lack of a single model for managing multi-family residential buildings leading to poor energy efficiency;
  • Insufficient communication, and data sharing between different levels of administration, city departments, and civic organisations;
  • Insufficient citizen engagement, and lack of proper communication and knowledge sharing on climate issues, and the benefits of energy efficiency and energy sharing;
  • Limited technical capacity on energy issues inside the municipality;
  • Lack of historical data on the consumption and production of energy, and behavioural patterns.

NetZeroHero aims to address these barriers by implementing pilot actions that aggregate individual projects to achieve visible, district-level results, particularly targeting the renovation of multi-family residential buildings and establishing energy communities through public-private partnerships.

Description of Activities

The main activities revolve around deep renovation of public and multi-family residential buildings, integration of renewable energy systems, building automation, and fostering public-private partnerships to create energy communities. Another key activity is the practical realisation of the new governance model for the energy management of the municipalities introduced with the implementation of the ISO:50001 standard. It includes enhanced decision-making, communication, and data exchange capabilities of the responsible officials, as well as improved authority in implementing political decisions.

Other activities include:

  • Collection and analysis of energy consumption data;
  • Development of energy performance profiles of the buildings and the infrastructure within the zone formed by Svishtovska, Lazurna, Venera and Mogilov streets, as well as energy modelling of the zone.
  • Development of a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality, including a financial framework based on alternative financial models and tools;
  • Training municipal staff on energy efficiency, renewable energy and effective communication;
  • Deep renovation of three multi-family residential buildings to achieve energy class B;
  • Renovation of a public building to zero emission level;
  • Installation of photovoltaic plants and high-efficient heating systems.


To achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 through deep renovation of public and multi-family residential buildings, integration of renewable energy, and building automation.

Are the pilot activities building upon or part of a previous and/or existing activity?

Gabrovo is one of the founders and long-term chair of the Bulgarian municipal energy efficiency network EcoEnergy. Besides establishing the first energy efficiency demonstration zone in Bulgaria more than 20 years ago, Gabrovo is home to the first certified passive house (“Sun” Kindergarten) in Bulgaria.

Other initiatives include:

  • Gabrovo is a member of the Bulgarian Network for Sustainable and Innovative Public Procurement and has been implementing green public procurement since joining in 2015.
  • In 2022, the city opened the Energy Efficiency Centre, which provides citizens and businesses with information and support related to energy renovation and renewable energy sources.
  • In 2023, they city initiated the First Energy Community based on PPP in Bulgaria. This project includes a partnership between the municipality, individuals, legal entities, and SMEs to promote renewable energy.
  • The OutPHit project involves the latest research on energy-related parameters correlated to microclimate and precise weather data.
  • The LIFE project BARRIO aims to test and study the performance of prefabricated modular insulation on public buildings.

Which emissions domains will the pilot activities address?

  • Consumption of electricity generated for buildings, facilities, and infrastructure

  • Consumption of non-electricity energy for thermal uses in buildings and facilities (e.g., heating, cooking, etc.)

Systemic transformation – levers of change the pilot activities will exploit

  • Technology/Infrastructure  

  • Governance & Policy

  • Social Innovation

  • Democracy/Participation

  • Finance & Funding

  • Learning & Capabilities 

  • Data & Digitalisation 

  • Procurement

Stakeholder types that the city would like to engage in the pilot activities 

  • Academia  

  • Research Institutions

  • Citizens

  • Financial Institutions

  • Public/Private Partnerships

  • Business

  • Local NGO, Associations

  • Ministry of Energy and Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works

Transferable features of the pilot activities to a Twin City/ies 

  • Deployment of the city’s Energy Data Management System to new sectors, allowing for precise and continuous analysis of energy consumption in municipal and residential buildings and street lighting.
  • A new governance structure developed in the framework of the Scalable Cities project, including the institutionalisation and empowerment of an Energy Management Team.
  • Operationalising district-level net-zero energy modelling, planning, and management integrated with the participation of all professional stakeholders and final beneficiaries.
  • Establishment of energy communities in public-private partnerships.
  • A pilot retrofit investment plan based on the gathered data, including the identification of sustainable financing models for building retrofits.
  • Application of innovative technologies like advanced building retrofitting techniques, smart energy management systems, decentralised renewable energy generation, and grid responsiveness.
  • Development of integrated renovation solutions to engage private actors and citizens in the energy transition, including deep energy retrofits and renewable energy installations.

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.

Enabling conditions that will support the successful replication of your pilot activities in the Twin City

For the successful replication of the model envisaged in the project, the twin city should also be from a country with similar ownership model of the multi-family residential buildings.

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.

What does the city want to learn from Twin City/ies?

  • Collective solution for energy (electricity, and/or heating and cooling) generation and consumption.
  • Raising private capital for climate actions.
  • Efficient methods to empower communities on climate actions.
  • Establishing successful public-private partnerships for climate projects.
  • Research and development of strategies to enhance resilience against the impacts of climate change.

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.