Ostrava – getting smarter and greener

Smart cities are smarter and greener, and that is what Ostrava aspires to be. Therefore, it became one of the first Czech cities to join in 2011 the Covenant of Mayors for local sustainable energy, committing itself to increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources. Being a signatory enables Ostrava to have a better and more efficient access to structural funds intended for these purposes.

Statutory City of Ostrava participation in the Covenant of Mayors

The Statutory City of Ostrava has become officially involved in the Covenant of Mayors and has become its signatory on the 2nd of November 2011.

logoThe Covenant of Mayors is a European initiative focussed on local and regional administration bodies which voluntarily undertake to increase the energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy resources in areas managed by them. The signatories of the Covenant undertake to meet and even extend objectives of the European Union by 2020 and to decrease CO2 emissions by 20%.

In connection to the mentioned package, the European Commission has started, in 2008, a campaign supporting and awarding efforts by bodies of the local administrations while executing the renewable energy strategy. There has been a platform created for the exchange of experience and for improvements in the standard of living under the name Covenant of Mayors with the official address in Brussels.

Undertakings and advantages of the Covenant signatories

The municipalities which are interested in the participation in the reduction of emissions and, at the same time, in becoming a part of the large association of similarly thinking European cities may enrol at the Covenant. During the first stage, they must calculate their existing emissions, i.e. they have to organise the basic emission inventorying (the emission audit) to allow for the determination of their success level in performing their plans and by how many per cent they might lower the CO2 emissions. Within this task, they establish the biggest contaminators and the amount of emitted carbonic-acid gas. Consequently, they undertake to prepare, within a year from their entry into the Covenant, a Renewable Energy Action Plan in which they present their main planned processes.

The advantage of participation in the Covenant is the gaining of political support within varied European institutions. Namely, they are the Committee of Regions, which has been supporting the Covenant since the beginning, the European Parliament, European Commission, and the European Investment Bank, which helps the signatories in exposing the investment potential.

Covenant signatories

ostravaCurrently, there are 4002 mayors from 46 countries, not only from Europe, involved in the Covenant. There are both large metropolitan cities and small municipalities having just few residents participating. In the Czech Republic, there are four cities and municipalities: Jeseník (which has entered the Covenant in 2010), Hlinsko (2011), Lkáň (2012), and the Statutory City of Ostrava (2011).

The Statutory City of Ostrava currently focuses on the collection of materials serving the selection of in its kind suitable projects and, at the same time, on negotiations with potential partners, who could become involved in the projects.

Specific activities by the Covenant signatories

The substance of the membership and the Covenant initiative generally is the execution of specifically selected city projects which should result in lowering of the CO2 emissions and thus improving the standard of living for the residents. The projects’ objectives relate, in more traditional form, to areas of buildings and transport. Regarding the buildings, the main objective is the reduction of their energy requirements and the consequent operations of the buildings showing savings (e.g. the thermal insulation of buildings, the energy management, solar heating, installation of clever energy consumption meters, etc.). When it comes to the area of transport, there is a large scope of possible projects lowering the CO2 emissions and making the city transport more efficient and “green”. Cities thus focus on both individual transport by cars (the managed entries into the cities and more efficient system of the transport management) and public transport. Of course, the main plan is to move as many travellers as possible from cars to means of the public transport. The highest support is then given to the transport on rails (trams, the development of /integrated/ railway transport at the city outskirts).

For the sake of better illustration, we present examples of specific projects under implementation by other Covenant signatories:

Area of transport

-          Reworking of the public transport buses

-          Provisions reducing the transport in city centres (bypasses, transfers)

-          Constructions of bike tracks

-          Support of the increase in the number of public transport passengers with detriment to cars

-          Support of the railway transport and the development of integrated transport

-          Technical study of the intelligent transport  system

-          Public transport – the purchase of electric buses

-          More efficient transport system and its fluency – the light systems, the saving mode

-          Purchases of cars and scooters run on the electric power by public organisations (Municipal Police, Rescue Services)

-          Hire of bikes running on the electric power

-          Construction of longer-term side parking places 

-          Support of the managed car entries into the cities

-          Support of the (transport) information system via SMS at times of high concentrations of polluted air

-          Support of the intelligent navigation systems. 


-          Thermal insulation of building facades and the complex design/solution of their technical state

-          Energy management (the monitoring of the energy consumption and the consequent data evaluation)

-          Building energy certificates

-          Solar systems (the installation is suggested to universities)

-          The use of solar collectors in apartment blocks and family houses

-          Taxation bonus for households presenting energy certificates. 

Related provisions

-          Training in the area of energy efficiency and OZE for varied groups

-          Environmental education

-          Cooperation of cities, science and research workplaces, and private sector (round tables, etc.)

-          Technical studies of intelligent transport systems

-          Installation of solar collectors on newly built family houses

-          Purchases of energy-friendly office equipment by cities and their organisations (the energy Class A)

-          Renewing of thermal ducts

-          Installation of regulation systems for the public lighting

-          Exchange of a selected part of lights within the public lighting. 


Being the Covenant signatory might help in opening imaginary gates to funding ways which would be inaccessible for cities which are not the Covenant members. Considering the fact that a city undertakes, by accepting the Covenant membership, to prepare the so-called Action Plan, the provider of funds (either from public, European or private sector) gets the guaranty that the activities performed by the city are supported, will not change too often, and have a clear and long-term goal. 

The possible funding resources, which would be only hardly accessible otherwise, may include, for example, loans by the European Investment Bank, the funding assisted by specialised EU funds,(Jessica, ELENA), the EU programme (Intelligent Energy for Europe), or through the structural EU funds. When it comes to the structural funds, individual operating programmes differ among countries and conditions negotiated with the European Commission for the given programme period. We should comment the funding area by saying that another resource is made by national resources – either special government programmes or targeted funds from the individual cities’ budgets.