Community planning

The majority of community emissions derive from buildings’ energy use and from traffic. The local or community structure has great influence on how high emissions are. The energy efficiency of communities can be improved by planning structurally streamlined and compact communities which also allow for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and the generation of other harmful environmental effects.

An energy efficient and streamlined community benefits everyone, from residents to local business life and the environment. The energy efficiency of existing communities can also often be improved with the help of planning and traffic management, even if it may prove more challenging than the planning of new communities.

The benefits of a streamlined and energy efficient community:

  • the urban structure is compact, meaning that distances are short and the need to travel small;
  • the residential areas and city centre are lively;
  • the possibilities for walking and cycling are good;
  • public transport is extensive and functional; and
  • a well-planned community encourages people to commute by modes other than their own car.

An energy efficient community has paid attention to the energy consumption of buildings. Planning is implemented in such a way that connecting to the district heating network is possible. The placement of houses and buildings utilises passive solar energy insofar as possible.

Cooperation and interaction are needed

The energy efficiency of community structures can be improved with the long-term cooperation and interaction of a municipality’s different operators. The implementation of energy efficiency is the responsibility of everyone – the municipality’s officials, decision-makers and residents alike.

Planners and decision-makers also need broad-mindedness and courage in the implementation of an energy efficient urban structure. To ensure a successful result, it is also important to listen to residents at different stages of the planning and decision-making processes given that, in the end, their daily decisions – such as their mobility habits – have an impact on the implementation of the community’s energy efficiency.

Planning guidance

Decision-making related to construction, land use and traffic arrangements should also always account for the energy efficiency and life cycle costs of the implementation options. It is important to guide planning in such a way that, in addition to the investment costs, selections account for buildings’ future energy and other operating costs, for example.

Energy efficiency and life cycle thinking can be promoted in a number of ways:

  • The municipality’s own construction/development considers energy efficient solutions. Comparisons of the life cycle costs and energy costs of alternative planning solutions are commissioned during the planning stage.
  • Planning solutions assess the areas’ future vehicle use distribution and buildings’ energy solutions. Energy efficient solutions are supported.
  • The planning of plots accounts for the possibility of the passive utilisation of solar energy in the placement and orientation of buildings.
  • Buildings’ chances of connecting to the local or district heating system are investigated in the context of planning.
  • Builders/developers are provided with information on the options for using renewable energy, energy efficient construction, energy performance certificates and the possibility to join the local or district heating network in connection with the plot purchase and the issuance of the building permit.
  • Plot buyers and single-family home builders are provided with training on renewable energy sources and energy conservation.


Page last updated 15.6.2017