Groningen and the Northern provinces of the Netherlands are intensively engaged in energy sensitive planning and have developed a framework energy policy (SWITCH) which aims to achieve the transition to a sustainable energy landscape faster than the rest of the Netherlands.
On local scale, the city of Groningen aims to become an energy neutral city by the year 2035 and is therefore actively involved in several energy projects to transition to a sustainable energy landscape by supporting projects dealing with i.e. wind, solar, residual heat – and increasingly by encouraging local area based energy initiatives. On both scales, regional and local, energy sensitive planning is embedded in an environment linking different administrations (horizontal and vertical), companies, private parties and civil society actors.
Already in 2006 the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation launched a project to develop the first energy sensitive planning guidelines and design principles for the Northern Provinces (SREX, Synergy between Regional Planning and Energy) and thereby provided a basis to explore collaborative practice and joint capacity building on the interface of local-regional scale.
The city of Groningen seized the idea of co-production and capacity building and launched in 2013 their own Urban Living Lab (Urban GRO Lab). In both projects the Department of Planning & Environment has a core position.
Urban Gro Lab
The Urban Gro Lab is an urban living lab embedded in the city of Groningen (NL), integrating concurrent and ongoing research, planning and innovation process within the arena of public-private-civil society network approach.