Adapting to urbanization

Urban centers are vast drains on energy resources: worldwide, cities account for more than 70% of energy consumption and for over half of greenhouse gas emissions. By 2050, two thirds of the global population is projected to be urban (up from half currently), further stressing existing energy production and supply infrastructures. In the face of rising urbanization, cities must look towards developing integrated energy planning approaches to ensure sustainable and green living conditions.

Crafting low-carbon pathways with district heating and cooling

A host of initiatives are already mobilizing local governments in promoting clean energy and durable use of resources in urban development (e.g. The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, the UN’s New Urban Agenda). Key to these efforts is improving energy efficiency: in buildings alone, 50% of energy consumption results from heating and cooling needs. In response to this challenge, integrated district energy systems present innovative and modern solutions.

By delivering heat and/or cooling to multiple buildings, district systems can rely on larger, more efficient, and less carbon intensive energy sources than can be connected to single buildings. Where available, heat from industrial processes, waste incineration, or wastewater treatment can provide greener – and less costly – alternatives to fuel oil or natural gas heating. Similarly, free cooling from lakes and rivers is a sustainable and effective substitute to air conditioning in warm climates.

Capable of connecting anywhere from a few homes to hundreds of buildings in a city, district heating and cooling are among the least-cost solutions to mitigate greenhouse gases in urban areas. Cities and municipalities worldwide are already seizing this opportunity to advance along a low-carbon pathway and meet climate action goals.

First Climate:Advising cities worldwide on green district energy systems

In Ukraine and in Colombia, on behalf of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, First Climate is currently advising municipalities through the assessment, development and implementation of district energy systems:

  • Since 2011, First Climate is present in Ukraine and supporting the rehabilitation of district heating systems, including feasibility studies, procurement and installation of equipment as well as training of local stakeholders. Located in the cities of Vinnytsia and Zhytomyr, the systems will become fully operational in 2017-2018.
  • In Colombia, First Climate is contributing since 2014 to the implementation of a district cooling network in Medellin – the first of its kind in Latin America and cofunded by Switzerland. In addition, First Climate supports local stakeholders in promoting the replication of such cooling networks across the country’s largest cities.


Dr. Jochen Gassner
  +49 6101  55 658 55

TÜV-Zertifikat "Geprüfte Kompensation"

Nikolaus Wohlgemuth
  +41 44 298 28 00