Local communities and cities have a vital role to play in the transition to a low-carbon future. In 2050, half of all existing European buildings will still be in use. Optimising the energy profile of our cities has therefore become a top priority, requiring the right balance to be struck between energy efficiency, renewable energy and flexibility. Whether you are active in the public or the private sector, VITO/EnergyVille helps you make this energy transition. Our technological solutions are already being used in over 55 urban pilot areas across Europe.

Urban energy pathfinder

Cost effective energy planning for buildings, districts and cities

Can we reduce the footprint of our built environment? Only if local districts also generate, store, distribute and consume their own energy. But what energy-efficient solar, wind, heat and biomass measures are necessary in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions emanating from buildings, streets, districts or cities? And what investments will be the most cost effective?

Urban Energy Pathfinder, developed by VITO/EnergyVille, is a comprehensive modelling system that calculates the most effective mix of measures to ensure that energy is used sustainably in a building, street, district, or city. The tool examines the energy savings along with the reduction in CO2 emissions and costs for each scenario. Wall, roof and window insulation, solar panels, heat pumps, charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, heat networks – all of these are possible.

The owners and managers of business parks, real estate developments, and urban developments are required to draw up plans that detail how they are going to reduce their CO2 consumption by 2050. Just like for city energy and climate action planning, Urban Energy Pathfinder provides support and assistance with drawing up plans and monitoring progress.

How the Urban Energy Pathfinder helps you prepare for the energy transition

Market potential studies

Reducing CO2 emissions when renovating buildings can be as simple as knowing the environmental footprint of different options. Urban Energy Pathfinder calculates the future market potential for renovation products including solar panels, HVAC, insulation, windows, doors, and heat pumps, enabling building owners to know the full impact of their options.

Building portfolio planning

Facility Managers, real estate management companies, and social housing organizations focus on a single building portfolio. Urban Energy Pathfinder gives them an aggregated view of the renovation needs of all their buildings, including the environmental impact of their options.

City energy and climate action planning

Belgian Mayors have to draw up a climate energy action plan by the end of 2022 that includes their CO2 reduction and renewable energy targets for 2050. Urban Energy Pathfinder assists mayors and councils to draw up their plans and monitor their progress.

With the Urban Energy Pathfinder, you can identify for each zone or building:

  • The energy consumption and the buildings at that location
  • Potential collective renovation scenarios
  • Opportunities for the production of renewable energy and for the use of heat networks
  • The predicted residual demand for energy
  • All of the costs and benefits of each measure

The Urban Energy Pathfinder benefits summed up for you

  • Supports investment decisions to bring about a reduced carbon footprint
  • Defines a mix of energy measures, such as building renovations and the local production of renewable energy
  • Calculates the financial, energy and environmental impact of each measure


Current project local energy communities

For Flanders to achieve its climate goals, a renovation rate of at least 3 % is needed. The factors that are blocking a thorough renovation are well known: high investment costs, lack of financial incentives due to the low price of fossil fuels and the drastic nature of thorough renovations.

Digital twin for upscaled retrofits

The DITUR project was initiated to do something about this. DITUR investigates how data analysis can be a catalyst for neighbourhood renovation projects in order to increase the renovation rate in the short term. This is done by combining innovative data into a digital twin of the building stock for two types of pilot cases: city districts (in Aalst and in Roeselare) and a social housing estate (in Roeselare).

Read more about DITUR

Roadmap to a carbon neutral Genk

With the GEENkool project, the city of Genk intends to develop a roadmap towards carbon neutrality by 2050. The greatest gains will have to come from building renovations, although the integration of low-carbon energy sources also plays an important role. The project path follows both a bottom-up and a holistic approach, and does so by following two 'tracks': a planning track and an action track.

Read more about GEENkool

Dynamic heat zoning map

At the request of the Association of Cities and Municipalities (VVSG), a consortium including VITO/EnergyVille will develop a more dynamic version of the Flemish heat map. It will be based on simulations of heat demand looking towards 2030 and 2050. Policymakers will be able to consult the map to know the heat density in a certain area, and assess if a heat network is an option or not. The map will help cities and towns pave the way towards fossil-free heating and cooling of buildings by 2050.

Positive energy communities

Clean Vision Summit 2022

VITO organises its annual Clean Vision Summit at the Bijloke in Ghent on Tuesday 14 June 2022. We will be highlighting sustainable technologies that help companies and industries with the development of more efficient business processes, innovative products and smart services for their clients. Don't miss your chance to discover the latest opportunities in sustainable technology for your business.

Take a look at the programme


A Comprehensive Framework for Data-Driven Building End-Use Assessment Utilizing Monitored Operational Parameters
Sharifi, M; Kouti, A; Lambie, E; Ma, YX; Boneta, MF; Shamsi, MH
A toolchain to evaluate the impact of urban heat island and climate change on summer overheating at district level
Ma, YX; Lauwaet, D; Kouti, A; Verbeke, S
Visualizing Equitable Housing: A Prototype for a Framework
Lespagnard, M; Galle, W; De Temmerman, N