The Renovation Wave for Europe strategy and the New European Bauhaus movement provide interesting and challenging policy frameworks for the Intelligent Cities Challenge. They unite with an overall vision of contributing to the European Green Deal through modern and stylish construction and renovation. This is especially interesting for cities, whose buildings are often more heavily impacted by the changing climate.

The European Commission has recently published its Renovation Wave Strategy to improve the energy performance of buildings. The Commission aims to at least double renovation rates in the next ten years and make sure renovations lead to higher energy and resource efficiency. The Renovation Wave does not just focus on existing buildings though. In her State of the Union speech on 16 September, President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the Commission will launch the New European Bauhaus to nurture a new European aesthetic that combines performance with inventiveness. The initiative will act as an incubator for innovation and creativity to drive sustainable design across Europe and beyond. It will connect practitioners from across disciplines and mobilise creative minds to reimagine how sustainable living could and should be in the future. It will also be an accelerator for socially and aesthetically promising green and digital solutions, technologies and products and will be rolled out in 3 steps:

  1. a design phase, to explore ideas and shape the movement

  1. the delivery-phase starting with 5 New European Bauhaus projects in different EU Member States. All of them committed to sustainability, combined with art and culture each adapted to local conditions and with specific focus such as: natural building materials, energy efficiency, demographics, future-oriented mobility or resource-efficient digital innovation

  1. the third phase will be about spreading the ideas.

The Renovation Wave Strategy’s key goals and solutions resonate with the Intelligent Cities Challenge ambitions. The ICC thematic track on “Green Economy and Local Green Deals” specifically addresses the issue of sustainability and decarbonisation of buildings, through a renovation wave, retrofitting, green construction etc. The ICC want to improve European citizens quality of life through cutting-edge solutions, with attention to socially equitable approaches.

  • The outline for the Renovation Wave places a heavy emphasis on the need for SMART solutions and the uptake of advanced, digital technologies in the construction and renovation sector.

  • The policy recognises that buildings are socially stratified - that older, cheaper housing is often the least energy efficient. This means that people with low incomes might have little control over their energy expenditure, causing a vicious circle of high energy bills, arrears and problems with wellbeing and health.

Furthermore, like our Intelligent Cities Challenge, the Renovation Wave strategy can play a role in urban climate mitigation and adaptations strategies. With the urban heat island effect worsening temperature spikes in cities compared to more rural areas, cities have a more and more urgent need to address building energy and cooling efficiency through a concerted approach. Smart and efficient buildings are a key factor in developing sustainable, equitable, intelligent cities. Within the Intelligent Cities Challenge we are working towards how our cities can help bring about this change.