ERCIM News 136

Photo: © Arch. Zeininger und Lisi Zeininger. The Smart Block Geblergasse pilot project in Vienna, before and after the restoration of the inner courtyard under which geothermal probes for heat pumps are located.

More than one in four households in Austria still heats with fossil gas – a form of heating with an expiration date. Indeed, in line with the commitments made in the Paris Climate Agreement, Austria must ensure that heating systems with oil and natural gas are replaced by climate-friendly alternatives by 2050. For this transition to be just and feasible, a powerful combination of technical, social and economic efforts is required. Our Vienna-based LOCALISED partner ÖGUT is participating in these efforts by collaborating with the City of Vienna on the “Raus aus Gas”: a policy program consisting on subsidies, information campaigns and specific bans aimed at phasing out fossil fuel heating and replacing gas with district heating and heat pumps. 

Between 2014 and 2018, the building sector accounted for almost 30 percent of the relevant greenhouse gas emissions in the city of Vienna. Especially for heating, cooling and water heating. Nearly 90 percent of CO2emissions in this sector come from gas heating systems, the vast majority of which are accounted for by around half a million gas boilers in homes or workplaces. This situation leaves homeowners with a considerable number of challenges: what are the options available to “get out of gas”? How difficult would it be to implement them? And, importantly, who bears the costs? 

From February 2024, ÖGUT carries out free renovation consultations on behalf of HAUSKUNFT, a service point of the City of Vienna, for interested house and apartment owners who want to make their buildings fit to climate-friendly standards and regulations. ÖGUT’s experts have been working on projects to promote fossil-free and environmentally friendly heating in the city for years, by sharing their expertise through consultations, concrete planning, and placements. Thanks to the agreement with HAUSKUNFT, the experts of ÖGUT are now available to homeowners for free, tailor-made and independent consultations, especially at the beginning of their renovation journey. Advice can be provided by phone, virtually, or in person on-site, depending on citizens’ needs and preferences.

The focus on local efforts and best practices to “get out of gas” is especially relevant for the LOCALISED project, as one of the project activities currently underway is to establish the local adaptation of the renovation wave’s policies and other mitigation initiatives and define mid to long term scenarios at local level.  Focus is given on the contribution of building retrofitting programs and energy efficiency policies to regional mitigation pathways.

For more information on climate-friendly heating options in Austria, check out ÖGUT’s blogpost series, in German language: