The Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) puts Ghent on course for climate neutrality in 2050.
The Ghent city council approved the Climate Plan on 26 January 2015. With this, the City of Ghent confirms its commitment for this legislature (2013-2018) to invest 105 million Euros in measures that directly contribute to reduced CO2 emissions.
An additional budget of 40 million Euros is earmarked for measures indirectly contributing to reduced emissions. The final objective is to be climate neutral in 2050, or in other words: to no longer have a negative impact on climate.
Social climate policy
Ghent was the first Flemish city to sign the European ‘Covenant of Mayors’ in 2009, calling for a reduction of local CO2 emissions by at least 20% by 2020 compared to 2007. Tine Heyse, deputy mayor for Climate, Energy, and the Environment, states that the city is already halfway there. The ‘Climate Plan’ includes cross-policy actions aimed at achieving the other half by 2019, putting the city on schedule for climate neutrality by 2050.
Deputy mayor Heyse: “The efforts not only benefit the climate and the environment, but also liveability for all Ghent residents, today and in the future. Ghent commits to a social climate policy. We are allocating additional resources to arm vulnerable families against energy poverty. Focus is given to a local sustainable food strategy in order to reduce our local CO2 emissions. Keeping passing traffic away from the inner city and limiting speed also dramatically lowers CO2 emissions.”
A few eye-catchers from the Ghent Climate Plan
- Loans and premiums. In order to reduce the energy consumption in existing residences, the number of energy-efficient refurbishments must be doubled to 3500 per year, and these (energy) refurbishments should also be more ambitious. In addition to energy loans, the City offers a broad variety of energy premiums for energy-efficient refurbishments. Roof insulation, windows, façade insulation, floor insulation, wall or floor heating such as heat pumps are all eligible. The energy premiums are proportional to income.
- Bespoke unburdening. Moreover, Ghent residents willing to refurbish can also enjoy ‘bespoke unburdening’. Most importantly, energy-efficient refurbishments must be made simpler for Ghent residents. The City of Ghent will accomplish this by providing construction advice, an energy scan, support during the estimation of the refurbishment budget… as well as finding and contacting contractors and comparing price quotes. From now on, Ghent residents can turn to the Energy Centre for information and service provision regarding energy-efficient refurbishments.
- Energy poverty takes priority. Combating energy poverty is a key priority for the city administration, in collaboration with Belgian public social welfare centre OCMW. Many specific measures have been provided to support underprivileged families in their efforts regarding energy-efficient living and refurbishing, such as higher premiums, zero-interest loans, energy scans, and extensive guidance by non-profit association REGent. In addition, the city administration also wants social housing refurbishments to be more energy efficient. This is why the City of Ghent provides financial support for energy refurbishments of social housing by the social housing companies operating within its territory.
- Energy coaching for companies. Entrepreneurs from Ghent seeking to push their company in a sustainable direction can follow a coaching programme on energy savings, and will receive a premium for this purpose. This allows them to make the right investment choice when it comes to energy efficiency and renewable energy production. Following a successful pilot project, it was decided at the end of 2014 to extend the energy coaching for 110 Ghent companies. Moreover, this project is one of the 10 Belgian nominees for the Belfius Smart City Award 2015.
- Sustainable business areas. With the development of new business areas, where we the City hold the leverage, a sustainable approach is developed for the planning and issuance of these areas. The goal is to stimulate energy reduction and the production of renewable energy. This can be done for instance by using part of the proceeds from the sale of parcels to provide support for companies and reward rational energy measures. This innovative approach will be tested in the new business area Wiedauwkaai during the first phase of the issuance.
- The people of Ghent inspire the people of Ghent. We also wish to encourage initiatives in which Ghent residents can inspire and empower each other. Through a sustainable neighbourhood initiative, we actively seek out forerunners in those neighbourhoods willing to back bottom-up projects leading to more energy efficiency, renewable energy, and CO2 reduction. To this end, a new subsidy programme is set up to allow for the support of projects at the neighbourhood level.
- The city leads by example. As city administration, we naturally want to lead by example. Indeed, our city services are committed to reducing energy consumption by 3% every year, or 15% during the entire legislature. A company transportation plan is being developed for the Zuid site, which will see a denser concentration of city and OCMW services, focusing on the sustainable management of our staff’s commutes.
- Sustainable new construction projects. Within the framework of the urban development projects, the city and sogent are focusing their efforts on sustainable new construction projects within city territory by imposing lofty energy-related ambitions. For instance, the project developer for the Oude Dokken project is committing to an innovative system that recuperates energy from ‘grey waste water’ from baths and showers, supplemented with the production of biogas from the fermentation of ‘black waste water’ from toilets and ground vegetable and fruit waste.
- Sustainable mobility. The city administration is making a firm commitment to different and more sustainable mobility in Ghent. The new Ghent Mobility Plan enhances the quality of life in the city, and makes it more accessible. The city administration is turning the entire city ring road (R40) into a ‘30 zone’ for increased safety. The pedestrian area is being expanded, the flow of public transportation is being improved, and bicycle infrastructure is being enhanced. The inner city is divided into seven sectors, with passing traffic being eliminated as much as possible. Using subsidies, we also encourage car sharing with clean cars (electric and CNG), the switch to electric (freight) bicycles, electric charging posts. We are also providing a CNG filling station in Ghent.
- Renewable energy x 2. Ghent is doubling the share of locally produced renewable energy from 7.5% in 2011 to 15% of household energy demand in 2019. We are developing a strategy around district heating, creating a favourable climate in which to realize wind energy projects. Energy maps such as a solar map will also make it easier for Ghent residents to make the right choices regarding investments in renewable energy.
- Sustainable port. The Ghent Port Company is working on a sustainable port by supporting sustainable projects within the port area and leading by example. Indeed, the Port Company wishes to improve the energy efficiency of its economic activities within the port area by 20 % by 2020, among others by making more use of alternative energy sources, exchanging residual flows (‘waste’, such as warm water and steam, becomes a raw material for producing energy), continuing the development of renewable energy production. Efforts are also being made to achieve a sustainable business area, and to include sustainability criteria in concession contracts. For its own operations, the Port Company is placing more emphasis on company bicycles for its staff, and rendering its fleet and buildings more sustainable.