WÄRME4ALLE - Participatory and socially responsible heating transition in the Neighborhood

The search for long-term, reliable, effective and socially acceptable solutions for the heating transition in neighborhoods is currently one of the biggest challenges for the housing industry and is equally important for the tenants affected and the planning administration. Problematic decisions are still often made when it comes to energy-efficient renovations and the expansion of the heat supply in neighborhoods, which do not sufficiently take into account the different, sometimes conflicting needs of tenants and the housing industry. For this reason, the WÄRME4ALLE project aims to develop a transparent and participatory planning process with the housing associations associated with the project in the sense of a resilient and socially acceptable heating transition, which can also be transferred to other neighborhoods in Germany in the future.


The German government has ambitious climate targets, particularly in the area of the heating transition. This poses major challenges for cities and the housing industry, as heating accounts for a large proportion of total energy demand at around 54%. However, the share of renewable energies in heat generation is low at 14%. The low renovation rate in the housing stock and the long lifetimes and depreciation periods of renovations make it difficult to achieve the emission reduction targets in the building sector.

In view of the fact that half of the living space in Germany is rented out, cooperation between property owners and tenants is crucial. Tenants often have no influence on refurbishment measures, but bear high operating costs in the absence of energy-efficient refurbishment. It is therefore important to create economic incentives for landlords to carry out refurbishments, but at the same time not to place a disproportionate burden on tenants when passing on modernization costs.

However, the current framework conditions for a socially responsible heating transition are inadequate, as demonstrated by the currently unresolved landlord-tenant dilemma regarding the benefits arising from building refurbishment and the cost distribution of refurbishment measures, as well as the insufficient consideration of sustainability and renewable energy criteria in tenancy law. A participatory approach to the socially responsible heat transition process in neighborhoods, which networks local stakeholders, enables information exchange and self-empowerment and involves tenants in decision-making processes at an early stage, is therefore crucial. This promotes acceptance of the heating transition, accelerates its implementation and enables tenants to understand their influence on operating costs and CO2 emissions and to actively protect the climate through building-appropriate usage behavior. Participation is therefore a fundamental building block for a successful, forward-looking and socially acceptable heating transition.



The project "WÄRME4ALLE - Participatory and socially acceptable heat transition in the neighborhood" combines economic requirements for a future CO2-neutral heat transition in existing housing with social issues in terms of climate justice. To this end, stakeholders are brought together in so-called "PartLab Sessions". In these sessions, they exchange ideas with scientists from various disciplines and the participation and dialog designers of the project team on climate and socially just investment decisions for residential districts. The aim is to develop future paths for the best possible solution together with the stakeholders and to enable CO2 -neutral neighborhoods for everyone in the interests of social justice. Digital exchange formats are also made possible to enable asynchronous participation. Discussions can be continued in the digital space, proposals evaluated and a permanent exchange established.  

The central objective of the project is to develop a transparent, participatory process with the aim of a resilient and socially acceptable heat transition to improve existing planning processes. In detail, the project pursues three scientific sub-goals. These are, firstly, the development of an innovative, target group- and topic-specific participation process for heterogeneous stakeholder structures. Secondly, the derivation of success factors and obstacles for the operational use of the structured participation process. Thirdly, the project aims to develop a basis for transfer to other neighborhoods in Germany.



from November 2023 to October 2026


  • Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK)


Partners involved

  • EPC gGmbH, Potsdamer Platz 1, 10785 Berlin
  • InWIS Institute for Housing, Real Estate, Urban and Regional Development GmbH, Springorumallee 20a, 44795 Bochum, Germany
  • IKEM - Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility e. V. Magazinstraße 15-16, 10179 Berlin

Associated partners

  • VBW Bauen und Wohnen GmbH, Wirmerstraße 28, 44803 Bochum
  • Volkswohnung GmbH, Ettlinger-Tor-Platz 2, 76137 Karlsruhe
  • LWB Leipziger Wohnungs- und Baugesellschaft mbH, Wintergartenstraße 4, 04103 Leipzig