Rotterdam is undergoing an unprecedented modern transition from individually heated houses to city-wide district heating with increased efficiencies and emissions reductions.

In order to reduce energy consumption and replace fossil-based energy use, Rotterdam launched its Heat Transition Programme, which will optimize the balance between targeting individual building performance and city-wide clean energy policy. The city is rolling out the changes in stages, and is using the opportunity to identify other city-wide upgrades that can be achieved simultaneously, such as sewage and building maintenance. The pilot stage of the project will connect the first 1% of houses to the district heating system, and the lessons learned will be used to produce a blueprint for city-wide scale up.

900,000 tons of CO2 reductions per year will be generated once the transition is complete

Cities100 – 2017

The goal of the heat transition is to achieve virtually zero-emission heating. The districts in transition will also be scanned for improvement opportunities such as parking problems or social cohesion. This will not only result in lower emissions, cleaner air, more jobs, and a call for innovations, but will also have a valuable and positive social and physical impact.

The challenge

Installing a district heating system to serve the needs of more than 900,000 people is an enormous logistical challenge for the city, but by focusing on the potential improvements in other areas, the city is turning a risk into an opportunity.


Economic The long-term transition is expected to generate around 500 jobs a year in the clean technology sector and will likely stimulate new innovation and market niches that will enable new companies to emerge.

Environmental Rotterdam expects to see a 10% reduction in NOx as a result of the transition from individual gas boilers to district heating.

cial The city is using the heat transition as an opportunity to address social issues and improve local problems such as waste water management and sustainable mobility solutions.

Health The reduction in NOx from reduced gas boiler use will improve the air quality of Rotterdam and reduce the frequency of respiratory-related illnesses.

About Rotterdam

Rotterdam is a city in the Netherlands. Its history goes back to 1270 when a dam was constructed in the Rotte river by people settled around it for safety. A major logistic and economic centre, Rotterdam is Europe’s largest port and has a population of 633,471 (2017), the second-largest in the Netherlands, just behind Amsterdam. The near-complete destruction of the city centre in the World War II Rotterdam Blitz has resulted in a varied architectural landscape, including sky-scrapers, an uncommon sight in other Dutch cities.

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