The 9th annual edition of Sustainable Places (SP2021) will be a hybrid event, from 29th September to 1st October, with the in-person sessions to be hosted in Rome, Italy.   

Sustainable Places 2021 design

We’re a hybrid event (physical and virtual) making it accessible for everyone. The feedback from our survey process indicated a majority preference for in-presence attendance but with the flexibility for online participation by choice or as an option given conditions on travel in September. Our venue and digital platform selections will accommodate both possibilities supporting both in person attendance and digital participation. In practical terms, in-person plenary sessions will be digitally streamed for the online audience and digital workshops will be supported on our online platform.  

Hosting additional people is a deliberate choice. Given the feedback of previous editions expressing the desire for more networking, more discussion and closer connections to the market and policy makers, you’ll see a different type of Sustainable Places this year. In partnership with PPAN (communication agency dedicated to the built environment), we’re working with embassies, policy makers and large industrials to make Sustainable Places part of their agenda and to come see the innovations coming out of EU research. Daily press conferences surrounding the event, activities and speakers will be a new and welcome addition to the program.

Conference Scope

Sustainability targets and climate change objectives cannot be met without addressing buildings and the built environment at the building, district and urban scale to include our transport and energy infrastructures. Renowned for showcasing results coming out of the EU Horizon 2020 Framework Programme via the participation of cutting-edge research and innovation projects, the scope of Sustainable Places is captured directly in its name. It involves designing, building and retrofitting the places we live and work in a more sustainable way.

Conference Concept

Sustainable Places prides itself on being an ideal platform for the dissemination of research, the conduct of workshops, EU project clustering and networking between stakeholders of all types. SP2021 will be held over three days in a hybrid (digital + in-person) event format. Between opening and closing keynote sessions, parallel technical sessions and project-organized workshops will explore the various conference themes.

SP2021 Call for Proposals

Contributions to the scientific program include scientific papers, clustering workshops, presentations (without paper), and posters. Display areas (booths/tables) can be accommodated. Side, pre and post event collaborations are possible (training sessions, co-locating, EU Info Day, etc). Scientific contributions are due at event initiation (29 September) and the type of contribution is specified using the CfP application form.

Conference Themes

Each year, Sustainable Places features topics that are shaping how we think about buildings and the built environment. Across all editions, Sustainable Places is open to all topics related to building sustainability and most often reflect priorities reflected in the European Commission Societal Challenges and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. For SP2021, the following list of themes are non-exhaustive and the conference program will be created according to accepted proposals:


Buildings / renovation / energy performance

Policies / certifications / behaviours

Renewable energy technologies / platforms

Circular economy / business models

Smart grids and cities / energy communities

BIM / Digitalisation / energy modeling

Publication Opportunities

Non peer-reviewed technical papers (4-6 pages in length) will be published in Open Access MDPI Proceedings and are referred to as ‘conference papers’. As a reference, please feel free to peruse the Proceedings editions from SP2020, SP2019, SP2018, and SP2017. The template for SP2021 ‘conference paper’ submissions with enclosed formatting instructions can be directly downloaded here.

Select papers will be considered for publication in the Buildings peer-reviewed journal after a manuscript submission pre-approval phase by the publisher. If selected, a cover letter with copyright attribution and an explanation of ‘conference paper’ content extension will be required alongside the ‘journal paper’ and these two documents (i.e. cover letter and ‘journal paper’) will be self-submitted through the MDPI AG online submission portal. Please do not submit your manuscript unless first given the authorisation to do so. As reference, please feel free to peruse the Buildings editions from SP2019, SP2018, and SP2017 (SP2020 edition to be updated shortly). The template for SP2021 ‘journal paper’ submissions with enclosed formatting instructions can be directly downloaded here.

Interest in the submission of extended papers is to be indicated (box check) on the Call for Proposals (CfP) to provide a first indicator on if there is enough interest to support a special issue (6-8 extended papers).

Sponsorship opportunities

Networking parts of the event will be sponsored. The sponsorship program will be launched in the upcoming weeks and disseminated in the next newsletter edition.

SP2021 registration

Registration will take place using XING (similar to last year). Registration outside of XING can be accommodated on a case-by-case basis and questions can be sent to   

The event has a free and paid structure. The plenary program and pre-event training activities are free and makes possible the engagement of policy makers and local area in-person professionals/stakeholders we are trying to attract to the event. These professional/stakeholder guests will not have access to the scientific or social parts of the program unless they decide to register for the scientific program using the in-person event pass or day pass. The in-person rates include attendance to the event plus lunches and coffee breaks for 3 days. For “presenters” the social dinner is included, but that dinner is not included with the “guest” option (date of the dinner to be announced).

Attendees who are presenting or disseminating scientific content have a registration fee. Registration fees are shown in the following table and are VAT inclusive.  The price shown is the final price that will be required on the XING platform.

N.B. to register as a representative of the European Commission (EC) or as a non-presenting student, please write to with your student credentials or official EC email address and a unique code will be provided to you that will unlock a free registration option in Xing. All in-person SP2021 delegates will have access to the plenary/training sessions, and all in-person presenters will be provided with one free social dinner ticket. Non-presenting event passes do not include a social dinner ticket, but they can be purchased before 1st September with no limit. The digital platform registration link to create your networking profile and choose the sessions that you would like to stream will be provided to all registered delegates at least two weeks before SP2021 commences on 29th September. 

Digital Platform - Hopin

Digital participants will have a new user experience this year as SP transitions to Hopin.  The platform features a “Stage” area, breakout sessions channels for workshops and a networking area for meeting participants. Running chat dialogue during the workshop will make the sessions more interactive and “live.” Similar to last year, digital workshops will be available as recordings post event on the SP2021 area of the SP website for further dissemination and use.

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