Spain's Pilot Activity: URBANEW: Multi-stakeholder Innovative and Systemic Solutions for Urban Regeneration


Description of activities

Seven Spanish cities will develop a pilot programme to promote a systemic transformation and ensure that the residential, commercial, public and private building sectors reduce their carbon footprint and become energy efficient. To this end, the cities will mobilise their stakeholders and jointly promote actions to encourage energy rehabilitation and the substitution of construction materials, encouraging the use of local raw materials with a low carbon footprint and promoting the deployment of renewable energies under self-consumption models and energy communities. The planned activities will be tested in seven cities simultaneously, in several climatic and socio-economical contexts. Lessons learned will allow to obtain a complete vision of this pilot, with a deep diagnosis to better understand the barriers and levers to decarbonise the built environment and integrate renewable energies. 


To decarbonise the built environment and promote integration of renewable energy through self-consumption and energy communities, by promoting a multi-city governance and innovative financing models (in particular, for vulnerable households) in seven different cities.

Valencia, Valladolid & Vitoria-Gasteiz

To promote systemic transformation so that the residential, commercial, public and private buildings are energy efficient, through rehabilitation and replacement of materials, using local raw materials with low carbon footprint and favouring the incorporation of renewable energies in self-consumption models and/or energy communities. 


To develop a public-private partnership model for the purchase and industrialised rehabilitation with carbon neutrality criteria of private buildings for the conversion into affordable rental housing. 


To work on the adaptation to climate change of public facilities through energy rehabilitation as a fundamental part to generate nodes for climate neutrality distributed in the city. Study new energy models and define mechanisms to guarantee equal opportunities and access to these models and renewable sources for the entire population. 


To have a real vision on the difficulties faced by citizens and other involved actors (administrators, energy rehabilitation professionals, energy managers…) to be able to implement the energy rehabilitation of dwellings in a significant way, in order to obtain greater comfort, a reduction in consumption and a reduction in GHG emissions. 


Promote the deployment of renewable energy communities through the development of governance mechanisms and collaboration schemes necessary for their optimal implementation and acceptance. 

What are the challenges that cities would like to address with the pilot activities?

All cities have defined common barriers that they will work on together, as well as specific barriers. These are the common ones that will be addressed through the pilot activities:

  • Lack of motivation and support from residents (elderly people, multiple heritage, young people with mortgaged houses, tenants, etc.). Empty homes whose owners have no interest or need to rehabilitate them and hinder communities’ decision making to initiate rehabilitation. Difficulty for young people to access free housing in central neighbourhoods as they can only afford social housing located in new neighbourhoods.
  • Lack of renovation and maintenance culture of buildings – need for social awareness and reduce the high initial cost for a slow return on investment.
  • Need to provide financing from the beginning. Dispersion in the aids, lack of unification of norms at different levels. Very complex understanding by both the administration and the technicians, property consultants, SMEs and renovators.
  • Governance: regulatory contradictions, silo operation between departments, excessive bureaucracy and difficulties with administrative procedures.

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


The Pilot activities are connected to the Climate Emergency Action Plan for 2030 (Line 4: Rehabilitate buildings to save energy), approved in 2021, which includes the commitment to reduce the city’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 50% by 2030 with respect to 1992 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. As well as the Plan for the Right to Housing 2016-2025.

Barcelona Right to Housing Plan 2016-2025 and the sustainable development objectives of the Climate Plan 2018-2030, which envisions the renovation of 10.000 houses/year.


The activities of the Pilot will deepen the Madrid 360 Environmental Sustainability Strategy that makes the fight against climate change compatible with economic development by promoting the transition towards more efficient systems and innovation. Madrid 360 was created to reduce polluting emissions in the capital, transforming it into a sustainable city.


The Seville pilot is aligned with the following agreements adoped by the City Council since 2019: 

  • Strategic Plan 2030 
  • Sustainable Climate and Energy Action Plan – Adaptation Plan 
  • Sector Plans and Strategies – Alignment with the Strategy 
  • DUSI North Strategy 
  • Municipal Housing, Rehabilitation and Land Plan. 2018-2023 Action Programme


Since 2021, the city planned to achieve 3 climate-neutral city districts in 2030 by (and for) citizens, and extending the goal to the entire city since 2022. In line with REPowerEU Plan, Valencia is also committed to implementing energy saving measures.


The work to be carried out in the pilot project is part of Zaramaga’s Urban Regeneration Plan, which is an integrated project in the city’s SECAP. In 2020 the S.U.M. Ensanche 21 Zabalgunea S.A. began the preparation of the first phase of the Master Plan for the urban regeneration, eco-rehabilitation and vitalisation of 10 neighbourhoods of the city.


The city approved the Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan Strategy based on a holistic approach to integrate all the actors and all the sectors under the umbrella of citizen engagement and participation.


Zaragoza hopes to achieve a 90% reduction in GHG emissions. The pilot is aligned with the local collaboration strategy recently signed by the City Council to promote energy communities as a tool to decarbonise the city’s energy sector. The project sets a benchmark by supplying green energy to municipal facilities, industrial estates, businesses and households and with the Urban Agenda and its Local Action Plan.

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

  • Technology/infrastructure 

  • Governance and policy 

  • Social innovation 

  • Democracy/participation 

  • Finance & funding 

  • Learning and capabilities

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

  • Academia

  • Research institutions

  • Citizens

  • Financial institutions

  • Public/private partnerships

  • Business

  • Local NGOs, associations

Transferable features of pilot activities to a Twin City/ies 

  • The relevance and transfer of the pilot activities will allow gaining experience in participatory processes by neighbourhoods and by multi-city governance using the System Innovation Toolkit;
  • An important aspect of this proposal is to boost transferability of project results. These activities are complemented by a solid communication strategy, with several types of resources available to inspire the carrying out of these actions in other cities and communities; 
  • The methodology for collaboration with stakeholders in the built environment: companies and SMEs to explore the possibilities of bioproducts, to replace the traditional materials in the building sector;
  • The project provides online available materials (publications and studies) of pilot activities’ socioeconomic impact to complement and to analyse green economy. Regarding the Learning City Programme, this proposal presents multiple opportunities for collaboration. 

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.

Components of the transferable features 

  • Development of a best practices manual for the implementation of energy retrofit solutions in residential, public and historic buildings and the creation of renewable energy communities. To this end, all project partners will compile the knowledge developed during their respective pilots, so that it can be replicated in other cities.
  • Guidelines for defining effective business and governance models for the implementation of innovative retrofit strategies.
  • A summary of policy recommendations, focusing on the key factors that contribute to developing an appropriate policy framework to facilitate retrofitting actions including financing.
  • ‘After- Plan’, a strategy to ensure the publication of results, broaden the scope and guarantee its replicability. This strategy will include the maintenance of the website, in order to disseminate the final results of the project.
  • Mapping of Stakeholders reached: Creation of a report with the contact details of the people, entities, organisations and networks that have been contacted and have collaborated in the development of the project. Development of a communication proposal to organise the continuity of the strategic alliances, to disseminate its final reports, and to disseminate the final results of the project, and the results achieved.
  • Lessons learned: a publication that takes stock of the process, where the good practices are developed and provides an overview of the barriers, difficulties and successes in the implementation actions of the project for decarbonisation.
  • Creation of an innovative financing tool/system for the energetic rehabilitation of residential buildings.

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.

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

  • Actions to combat energy poverty
  • Boost public-private investment for the deployment of district heating networks
  • Incentives, policies, instruments to discourage empty houses and promote their rehabilitation with sustainability criteria
  • Innovative governance actions to involve citizens in decision-making processes
  • Innovative financing models for rehabilitation especially focused on vulnerable families with objectives such as the creation of social guarantee funds, refundable advances or mortgage-backed loans with very favourable conditions
  • Inspiring actions to raise awareness and build capacities in vulnerable and ageing neighbourhoods
  • Incentives to promote investment by private actors in energy communities

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.