InnovationCity Ruhr | Modellstadt Bottrop
City/Region : Bottrop , Germany

“InnovationCity Ruhr | Modellstadt Bottrop” (short InnovationCity) is a model project to transform a representative part of a European city into a municipality which is climate friendly as well as prepared for climate change. The project was implemented between 2010 and 2020. It focused on the main aim to reduce local emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases by 50% in 2020. The project was based on a wide range of individual measures initiated and implemented with citizens in the urban neighborhoods of the project area. Many additional projects became part of InnovationCity.

Agendas addressed
Climate change
Pathways followed
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
  • Accelerate sustainability and innovation through public procurement
  • Guarantee equal access to information & digital services
ICM/ Experimental Plus-Energy House in Bottrop

Bottrop ( is located on the northern edge of the Ruhr area in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The hard coal mining industry was very dominant in the city, shaping the region for over 150 years. In 2018, the last German coal mine closed in Bottrop. Despite economic structural change, the city’s population has remained stable for decades at around 117,000.

The project “InnovationCity Ruhr | Modellstadt Bottrop” emerged from a competition among the cities of the Ruhr area held in 2010 by the Initiativkreis Ruhr ( It intended to optimize the energy efficiency of an industrial city and to transform it into a model for the transition to the post-fossil era („From coal city to climate city“). Bottrop prevailed against its competitors. Subsequently, the inner area of the urban district became the pilot area. It covers roughly 2,500 hectares with around 15,000 buildings (including 12,500 residential buildings), 70,000 inhabitants, 22,000 jobs.

In Action
Thomas Gödde; Funke Foto Services/ Energy Floors at the Schillerschule in Bottrop

The implementation of the model project “InnovationCity Ruhr | Modellstadt Bottrop“ was planned for a period of ten years. To coordinate and implement the project, the Initiativkreis Ruhr, the city of Bottrop, and other stakeholders founded their own service company: Innovation City Management GmbH ( The projects of InnovationCity were financed by funds from the European Union, the Federal Republic of Germany, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, or the city of Bottrop. In addition, investments from the business community and private real estate owners contributed to the financing.

In the first phase of the project, the city of Bottrop worked with citizens to develop a master plan for a climate-friendly urban redevelopment in the project area. The master plan outlined around 300 individual measures in the fields of action “Living“, “Working”, “Energy“, “Mobility“, “City” and “Activation“. The spectrum of the measures included energy-efficient building renewal, experimental climate-friendly construction, the use of renewable energies and of combined heat and power generation, the promotion of electromobility, the upgrading of public spaces, and the conversion of street lighting. Since the city of Bottrop deliberately pursued an experimental approach, the measures also included research projects.

The city of Bottrop aimed to transform the project area extensively with a variety of mostly small-scale individual measures (in addition to specific large-scale lighthouse projects). The crucial requirement for the approach of an “energy revolution from below” was the involvement of the citizens living in the project area. This was achieved through a broad citizen participation adapted for different target groups, in which important groups were specifically addressed. These groups included tenants (to change consumption behavior), students (to introduce them to environmentally conscious behavior), companies (to increase energy efficiency in production processes), and building owners (to modernize the energy efficiency of buildings).

Six decentralized neighborhood offices in the project area played a major role in the citizen participation. These have been available to residents of the districts as local information and contact centers within InnovationCity. Private homeowners had the opportunity to obtain complimentary information about the energy-efficient restoration of their buildings. Furthermore, they received advice and support from energy consultants on conversion measures. The city of Bottrop simplified access to funding for private property owners through a municipal funding program with a simplified application process (the “Bottroper Modell“).

For further information on the “InnovationCity Ruhr | Modellstadt Bottrop“, visit

ICM/ Comparison of the Josef-Albers Gymnasium in Bottrop without and with photovoltaics

The model project “InnovationCity Ruhr | Modellstadt Bottrop” is an unique attempt in Germany to transform a densely built-up urban area into a climate-friendly one. By the end of the project in 2020, key project goals had been achieved.

During the ten-year project period, the city of Bottrop promoted “InnovationCity” in various ways among the citizens in the project area. Several hundred public information events took place with more than 10,000 participants. Furthermore, around 4,000 complimentary individual consultations on energy-efficient building restoration were held. In total, around 30% of all private building owners in the project area took advantage of this opportunity.

During the implementation phase of InnovationCity, 241 individual measures were realized (visit Some of these measures were added in the course of the project implementation. Examples of the implemented projects include “Zukunftshäuser” (experimental plus-energy houses), the restoration of residential complexes of institutional housing companies, the expansion of the district heating supply, the replacement of conventional lamps with LED lighting fixtures, and the energy recovery from sewage sludge. In addition to the 241 individual measures implemented, 3,657 residential buildings (29 % of the total stock in the project area) were modernized in terms of energy efficiency as part of the project InnovationCity.

Already in the implementation phase, the experience gained in the climate-friendly urban redevelopment in Bottrop was transferred to other cities in the Ruhr area (referred to as “InnovationCity roll out”). With financial support from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, integrated energy-related neighborhood concepts based on the model of the Bottrop project area have been developed in twenty selected urban neighborhoods in the Ruhr area since 2016.

For more information on the "InnovationCity roll out", visit


In Bottrop, the project “InnovationCity Ruhr | Modellstadt Bottrop“ has positive effects on qualitative and quantitative level.

In qualitative terms, the project has led to an increased awareness of climate change and of climate-friendly urban redevelopment among the population. This is evident beyond the immediate project area throughout the city. The project pooled the strengths of the citizens and directed them towards a common, future-oriented project, and thus increased the quality of life in the city. The project broke new ground in a managed urban transformation process by directly addressing target groups, purposeful designing of funding programs, and operating decentralized neighborhood offices.

In quantitative, directly measurable terms, the project InnovationCity has had a significant impact:

  • In the project area, CO2-eq emissions measured on the basis of energy consumption by energy source fell by 50% in absolute terms between 2010 and 2020 (excluding transport). The CO2-eq emissions per capita decreased to 2.44 tons in the project area by 2020. The data was determined on a small scale based on the consumption of various energy sources. The corresponding comparative values are ‑25%/7.14 tons for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, and ‑21%/10.81 tons for the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • The use of photovoltaics in Bottrop (the entire city) increased to 0.57 kWp/inhabitant by 2020. 77% of the newly approved residential buildings in Bottrop in 2020 use renewable energy as primary heating energy. The corresponding comparative values for the ten other larger cities in the Ruhr area are an average of 0.13 kWp/inhabitant or 47%.
  • The project resulted in investments of 732 million Euros (public funding, private investment) in the Bottrop project area, contributing to strengthen the local economy. In the case of funding with the “Bottroper Modell”, 1 Euro of public funding triggers 7.80 Euros of private investment.
Challenges and lessons learned
ICM/ Smart Flower at the nursery Heilig Kreuz in Bottrop

„InnovationCity“ shows, small-scale urban redevelopment requires a distinct on-site approach, including target-oriented information and activation formats for individual residential groups and presence in urban neighborhoods.

Retrofitting buildings to a climate-friendly level is possible within several years. Activation campaigns, low-threshold funding for measures, and free energy consulting are needed to encourage owners to renew their buildings.

Furthermore, the project demonstrates the enormous potential of photovoltaics in built-up residential areas. Despite the above-average increase in photovoltaic-use, Bottrop only used 13% of the possible photovoltaic potential yet. With the total photovoltaic potential, it’s possible to generate more energy than needed in a quarter.



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