24 European cities join drive to renovate buildings and deliver on climate objectives

A group of 24 European cities are the latest to test out how measuring holistic benefits of renovation can help in their fight against climate change.

Today, WorldGBC’s Europe Regional Network announces that 24 cities across Europe, including the capital cities Madrid, Rome and Zagreb have joined the European Union (EU)-funded BUILD UPON2 project.

These cities will work with national Green Building Councils (GBCs) and project partners BPIE and Climate Alliance to develop and implement a Framework that allows them to track and measure a wide range of benefits of building renovation, from energy efficiency to tackling energy poverty and creating jobs.

A tool to deliver the Renovation Wave

A total of 32 cities are now using or building capacity to implement the BUILD UPON2 Framework, which is a crucial tool to deliver the EU’s Renovation Wave, an ambitious plan to at least double the bloc’s renovation rate by 2030, on the local level. In this way participant cities can play their part in achieving the EU Green Deal’s goal of climate neutrality by 2050.

By tracking the diverse environmental, social and economic benefits of renovation, this network of local governments can share renovation best-practice and feed into the national Long Term Renovation Strategies, which are a legal requirement for all EU member states.

The cities involved in BUILD UPON2 are the latest in a growing trend that sees local authorities taking a leadership role on climate change, often with greater ambition than their respective national governments. In the runup to the COP26 UN Climate Change Summit in November 2021, where BUILD UPON2 will be showcased as part of the Cities and Built Environment Day co-convened by WorldGBC, this bold statement of intent from European local governments will help increase the pressure on world leaders to take decisive action.

Stephen Richardson, Director of Europe Regional Network, World Green Building Council:

“Getting all our buildings to net zero is crucial for the EU to reach its goal of climate neutrality by 2050. And there are lots of wider benefits to renovation, such as tackling energy poverty, stimulating local economies and creating jobs, which also make it a key part of the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BUILD UPON2 project shows that by starting at the local level, cities can be accelerators of the Renovation Wave. The Framework that the GBCs, project partners and cities are developing is a tool that can help cities and local authorities track and optimise their renovation programmes and achieve climate targets. The data that cities are collecting with the BUILD UPON2 Framework can also strengthen the business case to unlock more finance for renovation.

It’s very exciting that this month a further 24 cities across Europe are joining the BUILD UPON2 movement. Their involvement will contribute to making the Framework an invaluable resource to deliver the Renovation Wave and the EU Green Deal.”

Michela Tiboni, Brescia Councillor for Urbanism and Planning for Sustainable Development:

“The City of Brescia is developing a climate transition strategy for its territory, also with the involvement of citizens and stakeholders in a dialogue process to identify, among other priorities, barriers and solutions for the implementation of private buildings renovation.

Taking part in the BUILD UPON2 project represents a great opportunity to apply a framework for assessing the social, economic and environmental impacts of renovation works, a system tested by numerous European cities that are sharing their experience with the project network.”

Carolina Andreu. Councillor for Housing, Zaragoza City Council.

“The city of Zaragoza has established energy renovation as one of its priorities, identified in the ECAZ 3.0 (Zaragoza Climate Change, Air Quality and Health Strategy Horizon 2030) as the first of the four lines of action to be implemented in relation to the climate crisis, the improvement of air quality and the protection and promotion of the health of people and the community to tackle these challenges. Towards this goal, the City Council has increased the municipal budget for the promotion of renovation by more than 80% in the last two years.

Participating in the BUILD UPON2 project is essential to have an evaluation framework agreed and applicable by all European cities to determine the social, economic and environmental impacts of building renovation. This will allow us to be transparent in communicating the city’s compliance with its climate commitments and to improve our tools.”

Next steps

The 24 BUILD UPON2 follower cities will now participate in training workshops on the Framework with staff from their national Green Building Councils and Climate Alliance. The cities will then use the BUILD UPON2 Framework to help guide the collection of data on the impact of their municipal renovation projects.

With many cities developing 10-year Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs), several pilot cities already involved in BUILD UPON2, including Padova in Italy, are actively looking to integrate the project Framework into their Plans as a way to measure their progress on renovation targets.

The cities and local authorities joining BUILD UPON2


City of Zagreb, City of Sveti Ivan Zelina, City of Karlovac


Municipality of Budavár, Municipality of Kispest


Kilkenny County Council, Cork City Council, Laois County Council


City of Brescia, City of Pesaro, City of Rome


Ruda Slaska, Gliwice, Siemianowice Slaskie


Zaragoza, Madrid, Sestao


Sakarya, Gaziantep, Bursa, İzmir


Cambridge Council, Essex County Council, Hammersmith & Fulham (London borough)


The BUILD UPON² project is welcoming cities to join our work on renovation strategies, and would love to hear more about impactful renovation initiatives you are running in your city which we can put on the European stage.

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