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Aligning district energy and building energy efficiency

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BPIE supported the UN Environment Programme and the City of Belgrade, as part of the Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) Initiative under the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Initiative, by exploring the synergies between aligning principles and approaches for improved efficiency in buildings, through the renovation of existing buildings, and district energy systems.

This report supports the Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) and the District Energy in Cities Initiative, two initiatives under Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL). While the focus is on the City of Belgrade, the aim of this report is to support all public authorities and agencies developing and implementing integrated approaches to both energy efficiency in buildings and district energy supply. It provides guidance to decision-makers in Belgrade, while presenting universal recommendations to align district energy and energy efficiency in buildings.


Combining energy efficiency measures and district energy is often seen in the context of achieving deep decarbonization in the most cost-effective manner. With high levels of energy demand savings on the building side through renovation, it can become more cost-effective to pursue sustainable energy supply options, like district energy based on renewable energy or excess heat, for the remaining energy demand.


There are many benefits for owners and occupants of buildings, district energy utilities and public authorities that can be gained from combining and integrating the approaches.


Aligning district energy and energy efficiency is most effective if undertaken through a district approach. An integrated approach on the district level will allow for a more cost-effective and faster decarbonisation of the building stock. Renovation programmes often target single buildings in a fragmented way and do no exploit the synergies between reducing delivered energy demand and primary energy demand. Shifting the perspective to a district system approach would help to capture interdependencies between supply and demand, which are traditionally treated individually. Combining the approaches to energy efficiency in buildings and the heating system on a district level can effectively match the supply and needs and thus avoid unnecessary investments and lock-in effects.


The recommendations in the report provide areas of focus for policy-makers in Belgrade, as well as being applicable to many cities and regions wishing to develop and implement district energy and energy efficiency approaches.

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