Assessing energy performances: A step toward energy efficiency at the municipal level

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At present, energy efficiency represents one of the foremost challenges to achieve the transition toward a low-carbon society. Reducing energy use spans a broad range of technical issues and spatial scales: from building to districts, from cities to rural areas, and from energy power plants to electricity grids. In this frame, the challenge of enhancing energy efficiency can be understood as an extremely relevant topic for planning at the municipal level. Nevertheless, recent studies provide evidence that significant gaps exist in the enhancement of energy efficiency within municipal boundaries. The present research recognises that a comprehensive assessment of municipal energy performances is an essential starting point to facilitate local planning in enhancing energy efficiency. However, how can this challenge be translated into practice and applied to the implementation of local planning? As new models result from the transformation of existing ones, the development of a methodology associated with a case study in Portugal was deemed the most appropriate approach to contribute to knowledge in these fields. The primary objective of this study is to move toward more integrated process of planning for energy efficiency, supporting the definition of priorities and strategies to address energy saving improvements at municipal level. The assessment process involves a statistical analysis that using Geographical Information System, is combined and translated into spatial models to determine needs and set priorities within a Municipal Master Plan review. Based on this top-down approach, it becomes clear that energy efficiency is a cross-cutting issue interrelated with a blend of various disciplines: geography, spatial planning, urbanism, architecture, and civil engineering. The results enable us to understand why municipalities should be called upon to enhance energy efficiency by first looking at a comprehensive energy performance assessment. Embracing the whole municipal territory rather than only urban areas, is key to articulate energy efficiency and geographical, social, environmental and economic factors that are at the core of local planning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-69
Number of pages13
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Energy efficiency
  • Local planning
  • GIS
  • Spatial models
  • Municipal master plan review
  • Municipal energy performances


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