This section provides a snapshot of the process of utilizing the toolkit towards urban collaborative governance. Here we present some of the key activities of Cluj-Napoca, codified as interventions in one of the three infrastructuring dimensions – strategic, operational and relational – that continuously interact with each other and help unlock collaborative capacities between different stakeholders, forming the actual shape of the social, cultural and economic fabric of the cities.

Key infrastructuring actions

Energy transition stands as a core pillar of the strategic plan for Cluj-Napoca, with the overall goal of developing a secure, affordable and climate friendly energy system. The plan draws and builds upon a series of national policy documents. The ‘Energy Strategy of Romania 2019-2030’ guides local and regional strategies with reference to energy consumption, focusing on energy security, sustainable development, and competitiveness. Moreover, the Integrated National Energy and Climate Change Plan (INECCP) 2021-2030 in Romania sets out operational objectives within the policy objectives, at the level of the EU, while the ‘Energy Efficiency Directive (EED)’ mandates a 30% improvement in energy efficiency by 2030. National legislation regarding the ‘Energy Performance of Buildings’ in particular regulate the framework for calculating energy performance and set requirements for energy certifications. Based on the above, the new ‘Cluj-Napoca Energy Plan’ targets energy neutrality by 2050, including reducing energy consumption and increasing efficiency through the development of circular solutions. Cluj-Napoca’s Urban Innovation Unit (UIU) ‘Mobility Pact’ aims at improving the decision-making processes on urban mobility. Finally, as part of Reflow, a ‘Policy Proposals Package’ has been developed, a series of recommendations aimed towards local authorities for strategies that integrate circularity and sustainability principles.

Initial activities included an impact analysis of energy use and energy production, as well as a city wide Energy Flow Analysis, complemented by a quantification of the renewable energy potential (including using noise and vibrations for energy regeneration). A study report on energy consumption has been produced and an open database created. This will feed into the production of an ‘Energy Map’ showcasing promising areas within the city for the development of renewable energy production. The main technological asset within Reflow has been the development of a ‘Retrofit Kit’ aiming at reducing energy consumption, that is combined out of five components (smart sockets, electric panels, motion sensors, lighting fixtures and a smart metering system). The Retrofit Kit has been procured and piloted in a school dormitory, while methods to finance its installation in more public buildings are currently assessed. In addition, the concept of an ‘Green Energy Tree’ has been developed, a mechanical model of a tree that can produce energy from renewable sources and provide energy for different usages, in order to raise awareness, while providing key services.

The city of Cluj-Napoca has been open to the development of partnerships with both industry and civil society. The Center for Imagination and Civic Innovation (CIIC), stands out as a public-private collaboration that combines citizen engagement to advance a shared vision for sustainable urban development. In the context of Reflow, surveys are planned to assess the qualitative and quantitative performance of retrofitting (by the users of the buildings); the results, together with a promotional package for the Retrofit Kit, will be used to raise awareness among citizens of Cluj-Napoca about circular economy. Moreover, technical training will be provided to users of retrofitted buildings, with the use of a monitoring app. Specific actions have been proposed regarding capacity building: A Master of Arts (M.A.) Course on Circular Economy has been developed, directly utilizing information from the Reflow knowledge hub. Moreover, an ‘Educational Kit’ for schools has been prepared incorporating circular economy principles into the curriculum, as well as a ‘Circularity Kit for the classroom’.

Cluj Circular Portfolio Canvas "snapshot"

The canvas shows some of the key actions that helped “unlock” collaboration dynamics. Activities are conceived and visualized as small-scale “portfolio” experiments that leverage circular possibilities in one or more sectors, and can be further scaled up at subsequent iterations of the process.

Cluj-Napoca Pilot is comprised of a consortium of three main local actors from the public, business and research sector, namely the Municipality of Cluj-Napoca, ARIES Transilvania and INCDTIM, all of which are deeply committed in processes of innovative and sustainable development of the city. While this already covers a wide range of stakeholders in the energy efficiency ecosystem, the pilot is constantly reaching out to connect with citizens, as well as academic and education institutions, in order to embed awareness and circular economy practices at all levels of society.

Cluj-Napoca is amongst the most dynamic cities in Romania, with a vibrant ecosystem of innovative institutions, businesses, universities and start-ups. The city is on its way to becoming a cultural and creative hub of Europe, attracting industries, creative communities and grassroots initiatives in the field of sustainability. All these aspects have the potential to assist Cluj-Napoca to effectively steer its transition towards energy efficiency, using circular principles and approaches, thus magnifying opportunities for long term and systemic impact. Embracing a circular-led energy transition through creative and collaborative ecosystems of innovation can unlock employment opportunities, while multi-stakeholder engagement can generate new forms of collaborative governance rooted in public-private-people alliances that can in turn help better utilize the potential of social capital, and reinforce democratic institutions.

Cluj-Napoca’s pilot within Reflow could capitalize on the city’s innovative approach to energy transition, centered around multi-stakeholder partnerships, and aimed at further unlocking potentials to a local green and resilient economy, through triggering integrated policy-making in relation to its energy system. Throughout the project, strategies and tools have been proposed that support the goal of energy transition through a circular economy. Beyond Reflow, a circular approach to the city’s energy transition can be a driver of synergies across multiple interventions in the urban environment, which in turn can unleash a series of environmental, social and economic co-benefits contributing to an improved quality of life for its citizens (see the report on energy transition).

More particular, regarding the Retrofit Kit replication, the intention is to install more units in multiple public buildings in Cluj-Napoca. A planned series of discussions between the users of the buildings and the municipality aims to raise awareness about monitoring energy savings. This will lead to the creation of a visualization app to give an overview of energy consumption across the buildings, hence communicating the impacts achieved, while enabling more focused interventions for extending energy savings. The tangible goal is to decrease energy consumption by a minimum of 15% in the buildings where the kit is applied within the first year of installation. The development of funding schemes for the replication/installation of Retrofit Kits in more public buildings, based on demand from the municipality, will further improve energy efficiency goals.

The municipality of Cluj-Napoca has secured funding for projects targeting increased energy efficiency, promoting low carbon public transport, and citizen awareness activities. Moreover, an increasing number of organisations active in the field provide for a progressive social environment in support of sustainability, eco-friendliness, and responsible development that can further advance the developed technological and social capabilities, and provide a multiplier effect within Romania and beyond.