Energy efficiency in Dortmund: Target group guided approach for more climate protection

Between 2010 and 2015, the City of Dortmund tried out a broad mix of measures in the redevelopment area along the Rheinische Straße to introduce residents to the theme of energy efficiency and the associated advisory services. It was successful: a real drive for climate protection was born in the redeveloped Unionviertel. And some particularly successful measures are already being transferred to other city districts.

Unionviertel efficiency district: target group guided approach for more climate protection

With a population of over 10,000, the Unionviertel district is one of the most densely populated parts of Dortmund. Earlier offers of advice concerning energy-saving behaviour and possible technical and structural improvement measures were not widely taken up. So new advisory services were developed for the Unionviertel efficiency district project, tailored to the specific residential structure. Here the synergies with the processes of the redevelopment were sought out and made use of. The long-term experience in Dortmund very clearly showed that no successes and progress in climate protection and energy saving can be achieved without the support and commitment of a majority of civil society stakeholders and partners. And these topics are best associated and communicated in conjunction with other changes. Housing improvement measures and enhancement of the living environment involves energy modernisation, saving electricity in private households reduces social poverty, energy efficiency helps small commercial enterprises to secure their livelihood.

Engine for progress:

  • Improved knowledge base on climate protection for educational and information facilities
  • Better interdisciplinary understanding of attitudes and behaviour patterns
  • Transferable knowledge on communicating the transformation of the energy system
  • High potential for social change

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Photo: Martin Jasper

Energy saving parties as door openers: this is how people learn – and how knowledge spreads, way beyond the Unionviertel.

Direct approach in the neighbourhood, the club and at home

It emerged early on that people could often be persuaded on the street to adopt energy efficiency. Over 1,000 conversations were held with residents at information booths at neighbourhood festivals. Established local institutions, from the migrants’ club to the parents’ café acted as advocates for the project, and children were made aware of energy issues through playful approaches.

Energy saving parties proved to be particularly successful measures in overcoming barriers from awareness of the problem to action. Here a host arranges a meeting with an energy saving adviser and invites anyone interested to come along. The expert helps the participants carry out an energy check, looking for electricity and heat waste, such as unnecessary stand-by devices and inefficient heating and ventilation practices. Their popularity has led to energy saving parties now taking place all over Dortmund.

Convincing businesses on the spot

Also targeted were the many small-scale businesses in the Unionviertel, with whom energy efficiency often gets overlooked in the daily business routine. Ten small businesses, ranging from the ice cream shop and the barber to the car repair garage, received a free energy assessment through the project tailored to their individual requirements. Savings were subsequently achieved through various measures, such as changing light bulbs, and replacing bad weather strips and inefficient water heaters. With the help of the energy improvements survey, the FZW events and cultural centre even received the Green Club Label of the Green Music Initiative and EnergieAgentur.NRW (EnergyAgency NRW) for especially climate-friendly event locations.

Lessons learnt for the city

The project not only led to direct and indirect CO2 savings, but has also helped the city to improve the quality of life and to reach residents with the new measures more effectively. Alongside the promotion of climate-friendly awareness and behaviour, the advisory services also led to structural improvements. Out of 51 consultations provided on technical issues on buildings and heating systems, 30 (partial) improvements have already resulted.

At the end of the project, a photovoltaic system was installed as a permanent symbol of climate protection and the commitment of the residents of the Unionviertel efficiency district, financed with the support of local stakeholders. The revenue from this installation will be paid into the Unionviertel neighbourhood fund, for use in supporting and promoting civic projects.

Photo: Roland Gorecki

“The photovoltaic installation is a visible sign of how two completely different projects can go hand in hand, and with the active support of many fellow campaigners, can combine climate protection and social and cultural commitment.”

Dr Rainer Mackenbach, Dortmund City Environmental Office

Partners and sponsors

  • Stadt Dortmund Umweltamt
  • Stadt Dortmund Amt für Wohnen und Stadterneuerung
  • Ministerium für Bauen, Wohnen, Stadtentwicklung und Verkehr (MBWSV)