The Smart Cities initiative is aimed at ensuring a high quality of life with minimum resource consumption by using intelligent technologies and infrastructure, and Smart Cities work towards outperforming European targets regarding energy efficiency and renewable energies. The initiative involves regular tenders for funding programmes focusing on major flagship projects, such as the recently launched new EU framework program for research and innovation: Horizon 2020. The 2014 call under Horizon 2020 focusses amongst others on the areas 'smart cities and communities', 'low carbon energy', 'energy efficiency', 'mobility', 'waste' and 'water'). In Switzerland, for instance, a Smart City project funding has been developed under the programme 'SwissEnergy'. Municipalities - mainly European Energy Award Gold municipalities - benefit from funding for their innovative projects.
Both the European Energy Award and the Smart City Initiative intend to contribute to optimizing energy consumption. eea cities can implement Smart City projects and get support from the different funding options on national and international level (see above).
The main difference between the two initiatives is, that the European Energy Award is a label but not Smart City.
eea municipalities enjoy the following benefits compared to municipalities singly commited to the Smart City initiative:
- eea municipalities benefit from a management system designed to ensure that the energy situation is continually improved at the municipal level. The eea management system thereby assists municipalities monitoring their various projects
- Having implemented the eea management system, European Energy Award cities offer ideal structural prerequisites for identifying and implementing projects under the Smart Cities banner.
- The eea management system can be utilised by municipalities of any size in order to align themselves with sustainability principles, while the Smart Cities initiative is aimed at major cities.