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SmartEnCity Site Tartu

Country & City

  • Estonia
  • Tartu


Contact Information

Often called the intellectual capital of Estonia, Tartu is a town of intellectuals, scientists, creatives and students, making it a hotbed for creative and scientific culture. Estonia’s most renowned university, the University of Tartu, hosts nearly 14 000 students, which makes up a good proportion of the whole population of the town – a total of 100 000. Also known as the city of good thoughts, Tartu already has a good track record as a smart city. It has been developing its e-services and paperless administration practices for decades and was one of the first in the world to implement many smart solutions – m-parking in 2000, public Wi-Fi throughout the city in 2000, local e-elections in 2005, city mobile applications in 2006, digital signatures in 2007, a fully electric taxi service in 2012, and participative budgeting in 2013, to name a few. Tartu ranks 15th in the European Smart Cities benchmark for smart people and joined the Covenant of Mayors in 2014 with the aim of promoting energy-efficient solutions, the use of renewable energy and citizens’ awareness of environmental issues.

The selected pilot area for the SmartEnCity project spreads over 0.39 km2 in the city centre and is surrounded by two streets in the so-called Khrushchev banks quarter. The demonstration activities include efficient renovation of buildings, innovative solutions for district heating, innovative solutions for transport, innovative solutions for street lighting, renewable energy, installation of sensors (noise, air pollution, temperature and humidity, as well as monitoring road conditions), and citizens’ involvement in planning and implementation.

* Detailed information regarding the technical and financial performance will be available at a later stage.

With the SmartEnCity project, Tartu aims to:

  • demonstrate a comprehensive approach to retrofitting out-dated panel buildings according to near zero-energy standards;
  • boost the liveability of the town through intelligent street lighting, biogas buses, electric car and bike rentals, as well as charging stations and many ICT solutions;
  • engage the citizens in creating a high-quality living environment that inspires environmentally aware decisions and new patterns of behaviour.

Financial & Economic

Financial & Economic
Encountered barriers

Cascade funding in the case of some mobility actions; for example, support for the purchase of electric vehicles was problematic. 

As the project did not find a solution to this barrier, they decided to change the planned activities.

Regulatory & Administrative

Regulatory & Administrative
Encountered barriers

The biggest administrative burden for the project at this stage was to gain access to the electrical grid for the photovoltaic panels and the electric vehicle chargers.

The access process was launched as soon as possible.

Best Practices

Best Practices



For Tartu, the major emphasis of the stakeholder engagement strategy is on learning, i.e. changing the existing socioeconomic practices. This requires a concentrated effort from all stakeholders as people must be taught how to adapt to and use the new technologies. The mutual learning practices will involve both peer-to-peer studying (current users of the technology will simultaneously promote and encourage other users to adapt to the technology), vision building (communicating the benefits and futuristic possibilities of smart cities and the specific technologies used), recruiting influential spokespeople, etc.


The SmartEnCity team in Tartu has developed a stakeholder engagement plan and especially in the refurbishing phase of the pilot area the focus of communication and engagement strategy is on the participation of the housing associations and residents belonging to these associations. All the buildings in the renovated district are privately owned and the collective decision by the owners is required for the renovation to take place. The SmartEnCity project supports this process but the final decision has to be made by the representative non-governmental organisation of the private owners. The main task is to include the associations in the renovation process and the single most important act of engagement will be the decision to renovate, made by the housing associations. Everything in the project has to support this decision and help its realisation.

The engagement strategy has several stages, including building up the necessary knowledge for entering into the renovation process via newsletter, website and forum; internal meetings of the housing associations to explain the planned renovation in detail, collecting feedback and trying to convince them to participate in renovations; supporting the housing associations in developing and implementing the renovation project designed by the contracted engineering company; providing knowledge to the people in renovated houses on the possibilities and ways of conserving energy in their everyday life.


For more detailed information, please also visit the SmartEnCity website.


The solutions demonstrated in Tartu include:

Energy efficiency in buildings

  • Retrofitting the building envelope
    • 900 Khrushchev-era apartments, i.e. 22 buildings will be renovated into smart, energy class A buildings

Energy systems integration

  • Smart street lighting
    • LEDs and sensor-based lighting
  • District heating and cooling
  • Waste heat recovery



Mobility & transport: 
  • Public electric and regular bike sharing system
    • Installation of new charging points and bike docks
  • Gas buses in public transport
    • Building up a new gas bus fleet
  • Recycling old electric vehicle batteries



  • Smart home solution
    • All retrofitted apartments will have a state-of-the-art smart home solution that allows to monitor energy consumption and adjust ventilation, temperature, etc. settings
  • Smart district heating and cooling grids - demand



Citizen engagement: 
  • Lecture series “Planning an energy-efficient city”
  • Art solutions for all pilot area buildings
  • Study on attitudes towards technologies and environment
  • Social innovation experiments
  • Community building through regular meet-ups, events and community meetings