Germany's Pilot Activity: EnAct4CleanCities



Since 1990, the cities Leipzig and Dresden have experienced a profound transformation. A large proportion of the building stock has been renovated or replaced, and the technical infrastructures and installations have been modernised. Structures  advantageous from the energy perspective, such as the polycentric layout with its positive mix of property uses, the widely branched public transport network and the district heating system with cogeneration of heat and power, were retained and developed further.

Currently both cities are focusing on the transformation to a sustainable and decarbonised heat and energy supply, an essential building block for a climate-neutral future and a sustainable economic development.

The local energy and heat transition is a central challenge on technical, financial, and social levels for Leipzig and Dresden, both historically reliant on coal and gas. This goes hand in hand with the energy-efficient renovation of buildings and neighbourhoods.

For the transition to succeed, communities must rely on a large ecosystem of stakeholders, namely property owners and energy suppliers. Yet, the diverse landscape of property owners complicates communication and activation efforts, and its heterogeneous organisational structures hinder uniform engagement strategies. Tailored approaches are therefore necessary to reach the property owners.

Description of Activities

In coordination with the municipal strategies for a sustainable heating transition, the vision of the EnAct4CleanCities pilot activity is to provide clear and relevant information and support systems for property owners and other stakeholders in their decision-making journey. To achieve this:

  • a data-based and digital approach is used to increase knowledge and acceptance among citizens and stakeholders and to activate them for change.

The EnAct4CleanCities pilot will develop, test and implement a digital toolbox for informing, activating and involving relevant target groups in the energy transition accompanied by a methodology on analogue and on the spot measures. The tool kit includes digital platforms for property owners in each city, serving as a one-stop shop for information and advice, including digital twins and citizen challenges as well as further activation tools for home and property owners. Existing opportunities of the affected interest groups are identified and brought together.

  • Implementation and roll-out of the EnAct4CleanCities tool kit and activation process will take place on city and district level. It includes deploying tools in both cities to engage and activate stakeholders, assessing their effectiveness through testing, and evaluating outcomes. A communication strategy for the use of the EnAct4CleanCities tool kit will be developed and implemented.


To become climate neutral by 2030 utilising innovative digital solutions in engaging property owners towards the energy and heating transition.

Are cities building upon or part of a previous and/or existing activity?

Since 2015, Leipzig has been developing “energetic refurbishment concepts” for different neighbourhoods with federal funding support. This initiative aimed to motivate and support private property owners in energy transition and refurbishment processes. However, due to the diverse owner structures in many districts of Leipzig and Dresden, the impact was limited as participation focused mainly on analogue formats. EnAct4CleanCities aims to overcome these challenges by developing digital solutions.

Both cities are successfully implementing EU projects related to Smart City and energy transition (Leipzig: Triangulum, SPARCS; Dresden: MatchUp, NEUTRALPATH, MOBILITIES4EU) and are part of national programmes like the German Smart City Program, which focuses on smart and sustainable urban development using urban digital twins.

Through these international cooperation projects, both cities have built strong local consortia involving research institutions, businesses, and civil society organisations.

Which emissions domains will the pilot activity 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 & Policy 

  • Social Innovation 

  • Learning & Capabilities

  • Data & Digitalisation

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

  • Research Institutions

  • Citizens

  • Local NGO, Associations

Transferable features of pilot activities to a Twin City/ies 

  • A set of identified digital solutions (applications, GIS information system, and data collection tools for citizen engagement) that have been developed and tested within the EnAct4CleanCities project. It will include recommendations and lessons learnt on how to develop and integrate digital tools for enabling and activating stakeholders in local heating and energy transition processes. It will detail the concrete learnings of EnAct4CleanCities on how to link stakeholder engagement with governance mechanisms in the city administration.
  • Insights and results for an enabling regulative framework at the national level, i.e. the Heat Planning Act in Germany (enacted since January 1, 2024) aiming for all German heating networks to be climate-neutral by 2045 and all approximately 11,000 municipalities in Germany must have heat planning in place by mid-2028.

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 

The twin cities should equally focus on the energy and heat transition by involving private property owners (e.g. individual home-owners), and ideally  is implementing a heat transition mapping and plan. Identified target stakeholders to work with should also be home and building owners. The twin cities should have an interest in developing and using digital, but also analogue tools and developing methodologies on engaging and activating house owners and other relevant stakeholders. Experiences on how to communicate and activate stakeholders with energy transition related data,

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.

What do cities want to learn from Twin City/ies? 

  • What are the most effective strategies for activating and enabling stakeholders (e.g. individual homeowners, tenants and citizens) in sustainable heating projects (combining digital and analogue engagement approaches)?
  • Which innovative digital platforms and tools are suitable for supporting efficient and sustainable energy and heating transition?
  • How to ensure the sustainability of implemented measures through continuous monitoring and reporting?
  • How to gain the trust and acceptance of stakeholders through transparent communication and data provision, e.g. on energy transition?

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.