Fast cars, fast fridges and even faster conservatories. Competing with the notoriously flashy Joneses and their endless pursuit of material goods is generally understood to be a perilous pastime. However, in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, keeping up with your neighbours could actually help you to save money – and the environment.

More than two thirds of the 600,000 residents in Vilnius live in apartments located in large multi-storey blocks. The majority of these buildings were constructed between 1960 and 1990 and bear many of the hallmarks of the worst aspects of this energy inefficient era of architecture.

Virgin Unite, sustainability, cities100, Vilnius

With poor thermal insulation, the blocks require a great deal of energy to heat, resulting in substantial waste. This is particularly true during the bitter winters of the Baltic city when average temperatures fall to around  minus four degrees Celsius.

Additionally, many of these antiquated edifices feature outmoded centralised heating systems, with no unit-level metering or controls. Unable to set their desired temperatures, individual apartment owners instead have to make do with an extremely inaccurate and inefficient one-size-fits-all approach to heating.

To combat the issue, Vilnius has designed an interactive online map that allows its residents to see the financial rewards that could be garnered if they were to invest in the energy efficient installations already adopted by some of their more environmentally aware neighbours. Users of the online tool are able to check the energy efficiency of their buildings against 4,799 other apartment blocks in the city.

Launched in 2013, the award winning map can be viewed via computer, smartphone and tablet. In addition to easy access options, the online tool makes comparisons straightforward. Buildings are broken down into 15 classes based on energy efficiency. Each class of building is colour coded from green (indicating very good energy efficiency) to purple (representing very poor energy efficiency).

Virgin Unite, sustainability, cities100, Vilnius

For a more detailed look, users can select a particular building to open a pop-up window that displays energy related information. This includes building type, construction year and up-to-date monthly energy efficiency graphs. The online interactive map also provides historic data on an individual building’s energy efficiency class for each winter for the previous three years.

With the financial benefits of energy efficiency clearly plotted, the hope is that the map will encourage home owners to undertake green upgrades. These energy efficient installation options include roof insulation, window and door replacement; and heating and ventilation system modernisation.

By 2020, Vilnius aims to have renovated around 600 of the least efficient apartment blocks in the city. Carbon emissions in Vilnius currently measure around 4.6 tonnes per inhabitant per year. Energy consumption per head, meanwhile, is around 63 gigajoules. Should Vilnius achieve its renovation goal, CO2 emissions in the city would be cut in half.

What’s more, residents in the city would find themselves saving a combined total of $70million a year. With that type of spare cash floating around, the tables could finally be turned on those pesky Joneses.

Cities100 is a mission shared by Sustainia, C40 and Realdania to find the 100 leading city solutions to climate change. Read the publication, and follow the conversation online using #Cities100

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