Climate protection areas are proving to be an efficient tool to wean Vienna’s building stock from fossil fuel. From now on, any new buildings in these areas must be supplied with renewable energy or district heating. 

From next year on, the vast majority of all new buildings in Vienna will be located in climate protection areas. In these areas, heating, cooling, and hot water must be provided either by renewable energy such as ambient heat (heat pumps) or biomass or by district heating. The requirement does not differentiate between building typesresidential buildings, offices, shops, but also public buildings such as schools or kindergartens. In the long term, fossil fuel will be a thing of the past. 

In a growing city, the construction sector is a central lever for effective climate protection. Houses built today will still stand in 50 years time. With the climate protection areas, Vienna is making climate-friendly systems the standard solution 

Deputy Mayor Birgit Hebein, in charge of energy planning in Vienna, states: “We are eliminating the CO2 emissions of new buildings and thus avoiding tens of thousands of tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2030 with this measure alone.” 

How to phase out oil and gas? – Viennese building regulations strengthen climate protection 

The definition of climate protection areas is laid down in the ordinance on spatial energy plans in the Vienna Building Code § 2b. The geographical design of the climate protection areas makes sure that each area is serviced by the district heating gridTo ensure freedom of choice for residents and businesses inside the area, at least one further climate-friendly heating system, based on renewable energy or waste heat, must be available.  

The ordinances are prepared and evaluated by the Municipal Department for Energy Planning and then issued by the Municipal Council district by district. By autumn 2020, climate protection areas will be in force for eight (of the 23) districts of Vienna. The rest will follow in 2021. 

The effect is a compulsory choice of a climate friendly heating and hot water systems for new buildings. In future, only “highly efficient, alternative systems” as per Vienna Building Code (§ 118 Para. 3) may be used for heating and hot water provision in new buildings erected within a climate protection area. These systems are: 

  • District heating or micro-grid, provided at least 80% of the energy is renewable or from highly efficient combined heat and power plants. 
  • Decentralised energy supply systems based on renewable energy sources (heat pumps, biomass heating systems, solar energy, etc.), provided air quality requirements are met. 
  • Use of waste heat. 

The next step – decarbonising the existing building stock 

As a next stepclimate protection areas will be extended to phase-out fossil fuel heating and cooling systems in existing buildings. This is a much more delicate and complex task than for new constructions but one that must be tackled to meet Vienna’s climate targets.  

For further information, please contact:  

Judith Neyer
Urban Innovation Vienna
Telephone: +43 1 4000 84267

Foto credits: 

Building: ©MA20/Fürthner
Deputy Mayor Birgit Hebein: ©PID/Fürthner 

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News Vienna shows the way towards a fossil free building stock with climate protection areas