Energy Cities: exemplary approaches to mobility

From large cities to tiny mountain villages, 475 Swiss communes currently boast the Energiestadt (Energy City) label. They make mobility one of their top priorities – and for good reason.


  • Sustainability

When Reto Rigassi first started as a consultant for the Energiestadt association 30 years ago, he spent a lot of time going door-to-door explaining the concept. "Hardly anyone knew what an Energiestadt (Energy City) was, and back then climate policy was taking a backseat, if it was on the agenda at all." Those times are – thankfully – behind us. Today, no commune can afford not to focus on the topics of renewable energies, climate conservation and energy efficiency. This is evident in the fact that some 475 of them throughout Switzerland have been awarded the "Energiestadt" label (find out more). That equates to around 22% of all Swiss localities.

"Like other certifications, our label is more than a means to an end", stresses Rigassi. "Above all, we aim to achieve climate-friendly, sustainable energy supplies and usage. And there's a long way to go there." While the Energy Cities might not yet have reached the finish line, they are, at least, on the right path. And that's reflected in many different parts of society, not least mobility. This is no surprise since more than one third of energy consumption and CO2 emissions stem from this area. "Plus", says Rigassi, "communes often have much greater scope to take action in the field of mobility than in other areas." Communes are generally able to create attractive conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. Public transport is overseen by a higher authority, but they can still generate added value with flexible supplementary offers like free local buses and on-demand services. Rigassi also sees potential on the horizon in creating mobility chains. "We see combining different modes of transport – carsharing and trains, for example – as an obvious way forward. However, the groundwork for this still needs to be laid."

Rigassi is keen to highlight the many positive examples of communes that promote sustainable mobility. The Energiestadt advisor mentions a project from the city of Wil, in which Mobility is also involved. The company has completed a pilot project that involved electrifying the entire car sharing scheme in Wil. The city also offers all of its residents twelve months of mobilityPLUS. Wil has opted not just for e-car sharing but also an on-demand bus in the evenings that only goes where it is needed. There are success stories from other regions, too: Lugano has run with the idea of encouraging commuters to cycle to work with the Bikecoin reward system. The Energy Cities of Solothurn-Zuchwil and Thun are offering households and businesses delivery and disposal services with cargo bikes under the "Collectors" brand. And the Neuchâtel commune of Val-de-Travers has won an award for bike-friendly infrastructure with its combined pedestrian/cycle path.

The fact that so many communes are getting involved with the Energiestadt label programme isn't just down to local environment policy. "The label also helps the commune to create a positive public image." And why wouldn't it? Who wouldn't want to live in an area that looks after the environment? "And of course, car sharing providers like Mobility are playing an important role in our journey towards a sustainable future", adds Rigassi. "In the end, it takes a combination of different measures to generate lasting success."

The Energiestadt label

Launched in 1991, the Energiestadt label is awarded to towns and communes that actively engage with municipal energy and climate policies. They share the belief that local engagement is crucial if we are to overcome the energy and climate crisis. Cities that have earned the label can't just rest on their laurels, however. "There's a re-audit every four years to confirm the ongoing quality and continuous engagement of each commune", explains Energiestadt advisor Reto Rigassi. Energiestadt is more than a label, it's also a resource. It helps communes to determine the most suitable measures to take in the field of energy, and implement them efficiently. Energiestadt offers assistance and experts to help.

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