Citizen engagement is a complementary aspect of smart cities related to the support of greater engagement in an attempt to tap into the collective intelligence of cities as well as better understanding their daily acts and needs.
Currently, a bigger priority in energy efficiency-oriented training and promotion activities is given to the implementation of modern technologies and solutions for new building construction. Across all the countries of the Europe region, the buildings sector accounts for approximately one third of energy consumption, and 40% of CO2 emissions (UNECE 2018). The building sector presents a unique opportunity to improve energy efficiency substantially and, for that, national public policies include a variety of mechanisms which are meant to encourage increasing building energy efficiency, including consumer information programmes.
Local governments should publish city-level data demonstrating both decreased energy costs and higher income associated with various levels of energy performance certification to promote building energy efficiency investments. Governments also should scale up effective promotion and awareness campaigns which are essential to encourage consumers to purchase appliances labelled with high energy efficiency ratings. Sustainable Energy Action Plans are enhanced and improved in order to reach energy savings and the national targets of public buildings’ energy efficiency. For that, a technologically oriented methodology focuses on increasing cooperation among public authorities through Joint Actions.
Energy performance certificates are widely implemented and also mandatory in some cases. Buildings throughout the European Union can be rated and certified for their efficient use of energy. Those building with higher ratings tend to earn substantially higher premiums. In this way, owners are able to earn a profit on energy efficiency investments from both reduced energy consumption and increased economic rents. This should be further promoted by collection and publishing demonstrative data. Some countries also promote voluntary energy labelling scheme for building construction products, not covered by the European energy label. The implementation of the scheme is based on public events, training and capacity building for manufacturers and suppliers.
Also, training activities are developed and implemented aiming to increase the motivation and awareness of managers of municipal departments or public buildings, staff responsible for the daily energy management, maintenance and operation of the public buildings, municipality staff in charge of developing and controlling public buildings budget, etc. Energy efficiency-related “knowledge hubs” are created to provide world-class training on energy efficiency, based on new training programmes, business plans and up-to-date training equipment for a set of training and consultation centres.
Codesign and user-centric design processes are developed to engage citizens in the ideation, design and delivery of new services. This citizen-centric approach has been already tried in some countries.
Regarding the specific technologies themselves being employed for user engagement:
Digital tools (mobile and web service tools) are developed and provided to customers looking for ensuring transparency and full access to information in the liberalized energy market. These tools help consumers to find clear information about energy offers, comparing among all variety of tariffs on the energy market and allowing consumers to switch energy supplier through those platforms. This tools provide dashboards as well as tools for data analysis such as data charts elaboration, creation of customized dashboards, visualization of data from sensors and meters, etc.
Energy Communities favour the acceptance of energy efficiency actions, achieving a greater involvement of local citizens, institutions and companies. Citizen Energy Communities have as primary purpose providing environmental, economic and social community benefits. For that, they engage in generation, including from renewable sources, distribution, supply, consumption, aggregation, energy storage, energy efficiency services or charging services for electric vehicles. For empowering this engagement, tools like tokenization are used for rewarding those users who actively participate.
Main stakeholders doing R&D: AECOM, Quicksand, iProximity, Zoniz, Agrupación Clúster de Electrodomésticos de Euskadi AIE
Main stakeholders in the market: Carrau Corporación Jurídica y Financiera S.L., Grupotec Tecnología Solar S.L. GT Energía, Sernoven S.L., Inversiones en Energía Solar S.L., Veolia, Solar Rocket, Robert Bosch, Electronics Trafic S.A., Ampere Power Energy, Quetzal Ingeniería, Azigrene Consultores, Cumulus City, Exclusivas Energéticas, ESS Bioconsulting, Atrae Foro de Energía