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The challenge of sustainable and energy-efficient cities has been recognized by international organizations as well as local communities. Discussions and actions undertaken in this context indicate the close connections that exist between adaptation and mitigation policies on the one hand and economic development that gives rise to technology development paths on the other hand. Cities’ commitments to climate change and adaptation needs are increasing, as well as the necessity of forward thinking techniques. To address these challenges, the EU Commission has recently launched a new initiative to fund implementation projects of Smart Cities.
In this context, the relevance of concepts—in comparison to the multitude of existing approaches—needs to be assessed. The European Institute for Energy Research (EIFER) has started a research project to identify the most important working fields and topics for cities on their way to tackle this question. Energy efficiency measures seem to be the key element in order to exploit the systemic approach.
First results of this project show that most approaches are either too specific or focus on smaller parts of the urban site. New forms of cooperation between research, business and infrastructure providers are needed. For example, the ‘smart city’ is an emerging concept that aims to tackle energy efficiency and sustainability in cities and tries to bring municipalities, utilities, industry and research together. By addressing some of the remaining gaps in urban knowledge and management, the ‘smart city’ approach will contribute to more sustainable and resilient cities.
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