The main goal of the project was to implement a complete solution for a smart and sustainable urban environment, which would inspire residents to make environmentally conscious decisions and would later be implemented in various European regions.
The smart apartment building training program was created with the goal of bringing wisdom not only in the form of smart technology and sensors, but also to help train conscious consumers. The training program is especially relevant in the context of SmartEnCity, a smart district, where residents get not only a smart living environment, but also the expectations to manage it wisely, sustainably and sustainably. Thus, the training focuses primarily on the everyday problems of the apartment building dweller (management of household expenses, use of a smart home, ensuring a good indoor climate, mobility, generation of waste, etc.) as well as on environmental issues in general. Residents of the SEC pilot area as well as other city citizens are invited to the training!
A participant in the training program is an "ambassador" of his house who:
- are interested in their living environment and its condition;
- wants to gain new knowledge about home cost management, indoor climate, smart home and the environmental impact of consumption;
- has completed the training program for deputies;
- is interested in applying the acquired knowledge;
- is willing to spread the acquired knowledge among the residents of his apartment building and acquaintances, give tips and be helpful in using the smart home;
- is ready for his/her contact (phone, e-mail) as a smart apartment building ambassador to be posted on the information board in the stairwell of the apartment building or shared in some other way among those in need.
Learning; Smart solutions; Behavioural change; Ambassadors; Training program
Training from April to May 2019 (project ended in June 2022)
- Ongoing initiative
- Recurring initiative (was or is still being repeated
The training program and other citizen engagement activities were carried out in parallel with building retrofitting aiming to significantly increase the energy efficiency of the area comprised of buildings constructed during the years 1950-1970. Smart home solutions were installed during the renovations. Residents’ everyday life practices need to change after the introduction of the new technology in order to reach the targeted energy savings. The ambassador program aims to support awareness raising, social learning and technology acceptance in the renovated buildings.
Scale(s) of the case analysed
Target audience and dimension
Domain(s) of application
Challenge addressed/ Problem-led
Impact to climate neutrality
The case was carried out as a part of a retrofitting plan in the SmartEnCity project. The objective is to drastically reduce the energy usage of the pilot area buildings, at minimum by 60%. As a result of the renovation of the buildings, annual energy savings of over 6 000 000 kWh and CO2 savings of 922 tonnes per year will be achieved. In addition to energy savings, renewable energy is produced by PV-panels installed on retrofitted buildings about 471 000 kWh annually.
The smart home solutions introduced during the renovations, together with engagement and social innovation activities, have increased residents' awareness of energy use and raised the sense of community cohesion.
The social innovation experiments initiated by the SmartEnCity citizen engagement working group focus on innovative engagement experiments that are expected to affect the consumption behavior of people. Essentially, this means experimenting with social innovation models to facilitate behavioral change and mutual learning among pilot area and Tartu residents. In addition to the lecture series that was launched at the beginning of the project, the local consortium has also launched and completed its second social innovation experiment: awareness-raising through training active ambassadors (the so-called Smart House Training Program) among pilot area residents. More info on social innovation models here.
The core idea of the experiment is the fact that a city is not made smart only through applying smart solutions but by also cultivating smart citizens. The training program was developed to encourage pilot area residents to learn from each other by training so-called Ambassadors in every pilot area building who would be able to help and support their neighbours in various aspects of smart house and smart city living.
The program consisted of five trainings, each focusing on an important smart living area:
- Home expenses and how to live in a smart apartment;
- Inside climate, ventilation and environmentally friendly interior design solutions;
- Waste, recycling and sustainability;
- Smart home system and the rights of an apartment owner;
- Green mobility solutions.
Context & Public policy of reference
Co-funding and results of the SmartEnCity project were used in preparing Tartu City energy and climate action plan “Tartu Energy 2030” that was published in 2021.
Tartu City Sustainable Energy Management Action Plan for 2015–2020 laid down the goals of reducing energy consumption and carbon emission by 20% and consuming at least 20% of energy from renewable sources. The 2017 interim evaluation of the plan revealed that although the municipal sector managed to reach the goals set in the plan, the emission of greenhouse gases in the city as a whole increased. The main causes are increase in emissions in private transport and electricity consumption in the private sector (mainly undertakings). On the one hand, it refers to growth in economic activity, which is of course positive, on the other, it clearly highlights those groups of the community that require more cooperation to achieve the common goals. The activities designed in the sustainable energy management action plan were addressed to the municipal sector and there were no activities aimed at the private sector. The SmartEnCity has contributed to the shift of focus in Tartu Energy 2030, and it provided examples of wider engagement activities.
Innovative approach(es) addressed
Investing in enhancing awareness and capabilities among citizens/residents in parallel with introduction of new technological solutions, to achieve necessary behaviour change. Peer to peer learning is encouraged. Experimenting with social innovations to contribute to development of the city’s new energy and climate action plan. More info on social innovation here.
Research project SmartEnCity, Tartu University as a coordinator.
Stakeholder networks and organisational model
No. of people
[accountable, consulted, informed]
Local project consortium, University of Tartu
10 local partners from Estonia
The project consortium planned, organised and evaluated the initiative
Participants of the training / Ambassadors
40 / 8
The ambassadors are the key stakeholders to create impact through supporting learning and promoting behaviour change within their neighbourhood.
Pilot area residents
Target group of the initiative, help and support for living in a smart building and city, in order to reach the energy efficiency goals.
Stakeholders in other areas will be informed, if after evaluation of the experiments they seem promising
Interaction between participants
- Political: Recognition of the relevance to increase cooperation with the private sector and other communities to reach the climate goals. Commitment to the energy and climate action plan, and related projects.
- Economic: Financing for the activities
- Social: Residents that are interested in learning about energy efficiency, capable of investing time and willing to support other residents.
- Technical: New technology has been or will be introduced, and social aspects are essential for achieving benefits.
Key inhibiting factors
- Political: Is there an existing mandate to develop and innovate for the residents? Or is only one-directional learning?
- Economic: what are the chances of the project continuing?
- Social: Was there a lack of motivation and/or incentives among the residents?
- Technical: Residents are seen merely as users, not co-developers & -innovators?
Drawbacks/pros/cons of the solutions (after implementation)
There were only 8 Ambassadors which means all the buildings being renovated did not have an Ambassador to share knowledge. Three main themes emerged that need to be emphasized in future renovations:
- more appropriate variety of dates for the trainings should be chosen;
- input about possible topics should be also gathered from the residents
- the enrolment in the program needs to be more attractive
After the analysis of the results, the replication potential of the social innovation experiment will be assessed and Tartu city will plan and conduct dissemination and replication activities.
The project convincingly proved that the renovation of similar apartment buildings into a high ‘A’ energy class is completely feasible and the renovation practice in Tartu can be transferred to other European regions as well. [D4.3 Building retrofitting completed] Link
Main positive lessons/opportunities identified
- Motivation to participate among the residents; personal interest and willingness to learn more
- A city is not made smart only through applying smart solutions but by also cultivating smart citizens.
Main failures/barriers identified
- Early stage engagement is highly important and paves the way to success.
- Involve decision makers from the beginning to keep the project smoothly running.
- Nearly half of the retrofitted buildings did not end up with an Ambassador. In future renovations three main themes need to be emphasized:
- more appropriate variety of dates for the trainings should be chosen;
- input about possible topics should be also gathered from the residents;
- the enrolment in the program needs to be more attractive as it is very common for Estonians to be rather passive.
(no information available about the potential impacts or experiences of the Ambassador activities in the pilot area)
They are described here in this deliverable Deliverable 7.2: KPIs definition