Galway's Pilot City Activity: Net Zero Pilot


Description of activities

Improving energy efficiency in buildings is a top priority for Galway on the road to net zero and the focus of the Pilot activities. The City Council currently focuses on retrofitting public buildings and social housing, but the decarbonisation of private buildings remains a major challenge. The goal of the Pilot activities is to address systemic barriers across the entire retrofitting value chain in Galway, tackling demand and supply challenges. The Pilot activities will do so by engaging citizens, energy cooperatives, local education and training bodies, city, regional and national government officials, and research institutes in novel ways to accelerate the retrofitting process and increase the energy efficiency of homes in Galway.

There is a national scheme to facilitate 500,000 retrofits by 2030 but the scheme has thus far fallen well short of its target. Ireland’s ambitious retrofitting goals are being held back by a lack of awareness, insufficient contractors, significant upfront costs and an overly bureaucratic process. Galway will pilot activities to address these and showcase how local authorities can overcome challenges to reaching climate and retrofitting goals. The main activities will involve increasing awareness of retrofitting programmes and benefits through community outreach, providing support to homeowners across the entire retrofitting timeline, and offering training courses and incentive schemes to build a highly skilled workforce that can meet the retrofit demand in Galway. Additionally, administrative and policy barriers to retrofitting will be addressed by introducing a Quadruple Helix Steering Group with a mandate to introduce reforms.


Improve energy efficiency in buildings by raising awareness and providing centralised and optimal support to private homeowners.

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

Galway City Council owns a social housing stock of approximately 3,000 houses/apartments and has been steadily improving the building fabric of the houses. In 2022, University of Galway partnered with Galway City Council to complete comprehensive monitoring programme of energy consumption and indoor environmental conditions of homes before and after retrofit through SEAI-funded HEAT-CHECK project.

Galway City Council has also undertaken significant activities to identify suitable districts in the city for decarbonisation pilot activities, “Decarbonisation Zones.” As such, a detailed assessment for the decarbonisation potential of the city’s neighbourhoods was undertaken. The Built Environment was a major theme in this assessment and data including Building Energy Ratings of residential buildings was included.

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

  • Governance and policy 

  • Social innovation 

  • Democracy/participation 

  • Learning and capabilities

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

  • Academia  

  • Research institutions 

  • Citizens

  • Public/private partnerships

  • Business

  • Local NGO, associations

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

Building retrofits and reducing energy poverty are common challenges. Transferable features include:

  1. Capacity building for retrofitting skills;
  2. Reducing administrative burden of applying for retrofits;
  3. Reducing financial burden by attracting more people through community engagement and honest brokers.

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.

Components of the transferable features 

  • Community energy agency;
  • Co-design of learning opportunities based on evidence e.g. Refurbishment projects materialised in a technical report/ dissemination activities via media campaigns and events.

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.

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

  • What are their experiences with citizen engagement around these themes? How have they involved underrepresented groups?
  • Any experience of incentivising people to build skills needed to implement retrofits, especially in a context of high employment rate?

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.