How to engage Zurich’s citizens in the creation of “circular and renewable energy districts”?

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To achieve a climate neutral city we need to reduce our energy consumption and switch to renewable energy completely. The city wants to create a zero-emission pilot district by reducing the CO2-footprint of energy supply. How can the city help its citizens to reduce their energy demand without feeling restricted in their quality of life?


The city of Zurich has reduced its carbon-footprint from energy sources (heating, power, transport fuel, including air travel) by about 1 tonne per person and year within the last 15 years to currently 4.4 tonnes per person and year. In order to achieve climate neutrality soon we have to at least double this speed. 

The city is working hard on providing low-carbon energy, e.g. the power supply is 100% sourced from renewable resources since 2015, district heating is extended and new heating networks using locally available energy are in construction. The city also financially supports home-owners to switch from fossil to renewable heating systems. 

Since all energy supply comes with an environmental and CO2-footprint these measures alone are not sufficient to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions and a near zero environmental footprint from energy consumption. The city also needs the citizens to reduce their energy demand (by increasing energy-efficiency and reducing the consumption of energy-related goods and services). 

Apart from just campaigning for this kind of lifestyle, what other ideas do you have in mind 

  • to make the citizens aware of their potential to contribute to climate neutrality by using less energy, and
  • to engage the citizens in a motivating way into a common effort to create a zero emission city?

Solutions could focus on 

  • How can we get the citizens' general interest for the topic of energy?
  • How can we make them aware that reducing energy demand is a valuable and necessary contribution to climate change mitigation and switching to renewables is just not enough?
  • How can the city support the citizens to reduce their energy demand, e.g. demand for goods and services that need energy supply (focus on housing, transport, incl. air travel, nutrition, clothing, possibly other high-energy consumer goods)?


Possible resources:

  • We have developed an energy website for the City of Zurich with a section to target all citizens under the headline "energy aware living" that you are welcome to use and to build on for your ideas, e.g. which contents would you like to find on this website and which formats? Possibly you develop a product/service that we could add to the website.
  • We are particularly interested in exploring how to involve the young  generation in the energy transition 
  • Solutions can go in the direction of reward and gamification systems
  • We thought maybe on thinking and acting on a district level could help the citizens. Therefore we encourage you to visit the Binz district, where the city is planning a pilot project "Binz 0" that could be used as a lab and pilot district for your idea's first implementation
Additional info and links 

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