Frequently Asked Questions

Cape Town, South Africa


Who is the Reinventing Cities team?

The Reinventing Cities competition was initiated by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. 
The initiative is made possible thanks to the support of Climate KIC .
To run this program and to best support the participating cities, C40 is assisted by a consortium composed of Algoé Consultants and Carbon 4.

What is C40?

C40 Cities connects more than 90 of the world’s greatest cities, representing 650+ million people and one quarter of the global economy. Created and led by cities, C40 is focused on tackling climate change and driving urban action that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks, while increasing the health, wellbeing and economic opportunities of urban citizens. The current chair of the C40 is Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti; and former Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg serves as President of the Board. C40’s work is made possible by our three strategic funders: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and Realdania. To learn more about the work of C40 and our cities, please visit www.c40.org, follow us on Twitter @c40cities or Instagram @c40cities and like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/C40Cities.

What is the objective of Reinventing Cities?

Reinventing Cities is a competition initiated by the C40 to implement the best ideas to transform underutilized sites or buildings into beacons of sustainability and resilience and act as a showcase for future zero-carbon urban developments. Reinventing Cities aims to:

  • help drive forward public policy making to support decarbonized, sustainable, intelligent and resilient cities;
  • support the implementation of new ideas and innovations that can be rolled out on a global scale;
  • actively drive collaboration between the private and public sectors to deliver new approaches to delivering low carbon urbanisation; and
  • reduce the impact of emissions due to the buildings. Buildings account for over 50% of emissions in C40 Cities. In order to meet the requirements of the Paris agreement, cities need new buildings to be as close to zero carbon as possible and existing buildings to undergo high levels of retrofit. 

Proposals should therefore address key components such as energy efficiency, resilience, water management, mobility, waste management, sustainable building materials. Bidding teams need to creatively address both content and form, and demonstrate that environmental performances can be achieved in combination with noteworthy architecture and community benefits.

What makes Reinventing Cities an unprecedented competition?

Beyond business as usual, Reinventing Cities targets climate-oriented redevelopment: the key criteria for projects’ selection is the quality of the solutions proposed to enable the city and local communities to catalyse change towards decarbonized, sustainable and resilient urban development.

Beyond a call for ideas, Reinventing Cities targets real-life projects. It will lead to a property transfer (sale or lease) to enable the winners to implement their project.

Beyond a simple design competition, Reinventing Cities targets holistic projects with innovative solutions in terms of program, new services, design, construction methodology, and financing.

Beyond borders, Reinventing Cities projects will gain international exposure. The best solutions emerging from the competition will be showcased across the world in hopes for their widespread uptake and adoption. The bidding teams will be presented as pioneers, committed alongside mayors to develop new models of decarbonized development and to tackle climate change. 

How can my City participate to Reinventing Cities and propose site(s) for the competition?

Reinventing Cities is a competition initiated by C40 and that is open to all C40 cities, and potentially to other cities as well. If your City is interested in joining the program you can consult this brochure for general information. Please contact reinventingcities@c40.org or the contacts indicated in the brochure to get in touch with the Reinventing Cities Team.

How is the competition organized?

The competition is organized in 2 phases:

Phase 1, the Expression of Interest (3 to 5 months): proposals must be comprised of the outlines of the project, the intended solutions for the main lines of the redevelopment of the sites, and the composition of the team.

Phase 2, the Final proposals (4 to 6 months): the finalist bidding teams will be invited to submit their final proposals including the detailed project (architectural, future uses…), the legal and financial offer to buy or lease the site, and a carbon assessment of their project. 

I want to submit a project, how do I apply?

The application process and content is described in the competition Regulation document that you can download from this website.

You may submit a first phase application (Expression of Interest) for one or several sites.

The Expression of Interest must be submitted electronically using the “Submit a project” tab visible on each site’s webpage. Your application must be provided in English or in the language indicated on the site’s Site Specific Requirements document (SSR).

What is the selection process?

Following the submission of the Expressions of Interest, the City will undertake with the support of C40, a technical analysis of the Expressions of Interest, based on the evaluation criteria defined in the Regulation document.

For each site, the City supported by C40 will set up a selection committee that will issue recommendations for the City to retain the finalist bidding teams. The general rule is for cities to select 3 finalists per site, but for some specific case, the City may decide to retain more finalists, with a maximum of 5 finalist teams.

The selected bidding teams will be invited to submit a proposal in the final phase of the competition.

How do I know about the specific rules and requirements relate to each site?

In addition to the common Regulation document, a specific document, called Site Specific Requirements (SSR), is provided for each site.  This document details the specifications for the redevelopment of the site, outlines the local rules and procedures (planning, bidding/purchasing procedures, etc.), and includes the competition timeline for the site. The bidding teams shall submit proposals that comply with both the common objectives, criteria and requirements detailed in the common Regulation document and with the specifications provided in the SSR. 

Moreover, during the Expression of Interest phase, for each site, the bidding teams will have access to a dataroom hosted on the website and accessible from the page dedicated to each site. To do so, they will have to fill out a form with a regular email address.

The dataroom will contain related information and background documents gathered by each city for the needs of the competition. These information files will be updated regularly by C40 and the City up to two calendar weeks (equal to 14 consecutive days) before the deadline for the submission of the Expressions of Interest.

Each project folder will include site information (photo file, map of location, land, buildings, surface areas, real estate and regulatory information, local urban planning documents, city’s local standard bid conditions and submission / compliance requirements, risk and flood prevention plans). This information will allow the bidding teams to assess the technical, environmental, administrative and financial elements associated with each City site, which may be useful for drafting the Expression of Interest.

What specific challenges should my project address?

The competition defines 10 Challenges for Climate that are listed below. The bidding teams are invited to address these challenges in order the deliver a decarbonized, resilient and sustainable project. 

The path to achieving a zero-carbon project requires a combination of solutions. The choice of these solutions should be made in consideration of the site, its configuration and how it fits in with its surroundings. In the SSR, each city has indicated specific environmental challenges and objectives for their site.

In the expression of interest phase, the bidding teams explain the general approach of their project. The expression of interest submissions will therefore only have to briefly describe the proposed solutions.

In the second phase, the shortlisted teams will be encouraged to include in their final proposal an assessment of their project’s carbon footprint and to provide quantitative details.

The key challenges to deliver a carbon-free project are: 

1. Energy efficiency and low-carbon energy (mandatory) 
2. Life cycle assessment and sustainable materials management (mandatory) 
3. Low-carbon mobility 

Projects need to address other key strategies beyond decarbonisation in order to assist in the rapid transition towards a climate safe, prosperous and sustainable city:

4. Climate resilience and adaptation
5. Ecological services for the neighbourhood and green jobs 
6. Sustainable water management 
7. Sustainable waste management
8. Biodiversity, urban re-vegetation and agriculture

Finally, the bidding teams must propose projects that combine environmental performance with high-quality urban design and community benefits, demonstrating that compact and sustainable urban development come together with liveable, enjoyable and inclusive cities:

9. Inclusive actions, social benefits and community engagement. 

10. Innovative architecture and urban design. 

Guidance relating to these 10 challenges for Climate and information on the main principles to carry out a carbon assessment are provided in the document called Guidance to Design a Low-carbon, Sustainable and Resilient Project that is available on the Reinventing Cities website.

Can I expect any financial compensation as a member of a bidding team?

The bidding teams will not be compensated for their participation in the Reinventing Cities competition or for any expenses related thereto, unless it is specified otherwise in the SSR. The transaction for the site property transfer will occur after conclusion of the second phase of the competition, based upon the official decision of the decision-making body of each City and in compliance with local laws and rules.

Does registration in the competition involve a fee?

The registration in the competition is free and doesn’t involve any fee (except the time and work requested to submit your Expression of interest).

How can I ask questions about the competition?

The Regulation of the competition and the FAQ are accessible online. For further information on the general process, you may contact us by using the dedicated form on the website. For specific questions about a site, a form is provided in the dedicated tab on each site’s page of the website.

The answers provided to the most important questions will be gathered and included in a consolidated FAQ that will be shared with all the finalist teams throughout the site dataroom.

The finalist teams are asked not to make direct contact with the City’s representatives but to ask all their questions relating to the competition and to the site through this system.

The finalist team can request a site visit by sending a message/question through to the question box on the webpage dedicated to the site. Dates will be proposed to all the finalist teams for group visits.

What about confidentiality?

The Regulation of the competition specifies confidentiality rules. Throughout this initiative, C40, participating cities and partners involved in the organization of the competition agree to ensure strict confidentiality of the contents (proposals submitted by the project teams, etc.)

Is it possible to bid for one or more site in the same city, and within a single submission?

It is possible to bid for several sites in the same city. In that case, you will have to submit one expression of interest for each site.


Is the composition of my project team open-ended, or must it be made up of people with specific skills?

Each bidding team must include at least one team member responsible for the design of the project such as an architect or an urban designer, and one environmental expert. Apart from that, there are no mandatory rules regarding the composition of the team. You are free to choose your team members; however the composition of the Reinventing Cities bidding teams must reflect the expectations of the competition, and the composition and experience of the team will be used in assessing the proposal. The teams must bring together various members who help achieve the goals of Reinventing Cities. 

In addition, while not mandatory, we encourage:

  • Interdisciplinary teams: in addition to architects, environmental experts, investors and contractors, teams could also include artists, community stakeholders, etc.
  • Involvement of investor(s) or real estate developer(s) in the team from the beginning of the competition, to ensure the financial capacity of the team to implement the project. 
  • Including as soon as possible the site operators and the future users for a substantial and tailor-made project in line with local needs,
  • Each member’s role and contribution, as well as the duration of his/her involvement in each phase of the project (planning, implementation, and operational phases) to be specified in the application.

Can my team be called interdisciplinary when it is made up of people with different areas of skills and expertise but belonging to one single company?

Yes. In in that case, the identity, expertise, and role of each people from the one company involved in the project must be specified.

Does my team have to include an investor or any other company capable of ensuring a financial commitment?

The financial feasibility of the project, as well as the legal and financial soundness of the team, are part of the selection criteria. Thus, applicants may provide any kind of documentation enhancing their financial capacity to successfully implement the proposed project.

During the final proposal phase, the project financial feasibility and the legal and financial soundness of the team partners will naturally be key for selecting the winning project. It will be requested that the finalist teams explain the details of their project’s economic and business model.

Is there a maximum number of companies or legal entities per team?

There is no maximum of members involved per team. However, each team must demonstrate the role and commitments of each of its members. The relevancy of the team’s composition and the quality of its organization will be taken into consideration.

What type of entity may join my team? 

The competition is open to any participant capable of taking part in an ambitious and feasible project. Whether they be private or public, local or foreign, professional or non-professional, Reinventing Cities competition is open to any type of stakeholders, regardless of legal form, and including foreign groups.

Do my team members have to be affiliated under a specific legal structure?

No, unless mentioned otherwise in the SSR document. 

Can a company or legal entity be part of several teams that are applying for different sites? Can the same team compete for different sites?

Yes, a company or legal entity can be part of several teams that are applying for different sites. The parties in question shall in that case undertake to maintain strict confidentiality. 
Also, the same team can apply for different sites. In that case, the team must guarantee that all the team's applications are sustained in the event of several winning projects.

Can a company or legal entity be part of several teams that are applying for the same site?

Except for the team representative and the designer of the project (lead architect), it is possible for a legal entity to be part of more than one team. The parties in question shall in that case undertake to maintain strict confidentiality.

How can I let other companies know I want to join or create a project team?

The “Team-up” page of the website enables you to introduce yourself and meet with other companies. We also recommend joining the local meet-up event that the participating cities may organize.


Is it possible to apply before visiting the sites?

The submission of an Expression of Interest is not dependent on the site visit. Applicants can apply in accordance with the instructions provided in the common Regulation document and Site Specific Requirements document (SSR). However, since the application includes information on the urban development and programme objectives, visiting the site may be of benefit to applicants.

For non-accessible sites and sites that are already built on, cities may organize site visits. Registration for the visit can be made through the website of the competition. 

Is the type of project expected on each site defined?

As a matter of principle, the type of project and programme accepted are not precisely defined, to let bidding teams propose the solutions they find best for the redevelopment of the site. However, some cities have defined specific guidelines for the redevelopment of their sites. This information is detailed in the SSR.

Can my proposed project get rid of city planning ordinances and/or specific regulations?

The projects must comply with the current city planning documents and the local legislation, unless it is specified in the SSR that the city is considering changing the rules (e.g.: to rezone the site).

How can I ask questions about a site?

Up to three (3) calendar weeks (equal to 21 consecutive days) before the deadline for the submission of the Expression of Interest, questions relating either to the site or to the competition may be asked through the question box on the page dedicated to the site on the c40reinventingcities.org website. The City and C40 will analyze the questions and respond. Answers will be shared in the dataroom of the site when relevant to all potential candidates.

Phase 1: Expression of Interest

How do I apply to Reinventing Cities?

The first step consists in submitting Expressions of interest (EOI) for one or more sites by producing a file in accordance with the Regulation document, by electronic way through the button “submit a project” on each site’s dedicated webpage of the website.  The quality of the project, its soundness and positive impacts on the site should be demonstrated.

What should an EOI be composed of and what topics should be addressed?

For each site, your team must submit an Expression of Interest including:

  • A presentation of the bidding team and its organisation: mandatory specific forms will be available in the sites’ datarooms 
  • The outlines of the project and solutions proposed for the redevelopment of the site regarding the 10 identified environmental challenges (see below). Roughly 10 written pages and one A3-sized (or Tabloid format) board of simple illustrations (but no architectural drawings);
  • A presentation of the intended legal and financial set up of the project

More details provided in the Regulation document. 

In addition, further specific documentation may be requested for some sites, you may refer to the Site Specific Requirements document (SSR) available in each site’s dataroom.

Should the Expression of Interest include a financial offer?

Not at this stage. The financial offer will have to be included in the final proposal alongside the detailed project. In the final phase, the bidding teams will have to propose a financial offer (price if buying the land, and lease fees if leasing the land).

What are the Expression of Interest evaluation criteria?

For each site, the Expression of Interest will be judged and selected regarding the following criteria:

  • The relevance of the project to the specifics of the site 
  • The solutions proposed to address the 10 challenges 
  • The suitability of the team 

More details provided in the Regulation document. 

Note that for some sites, additional specifications regarding these criteria may be defined within each Site Specific Requirements document (SSR). There is no weighting of the selection criteria unless mentioned otherwise in the Site Specific Requirements document (SSR).

Is the nature of the site property transfer imposed?

For each site, the bidding teams will compete to buy or lease the site to implement their project. At the end of the competition process, each city will organize the legal arrangement to finalize the site transfer, in compliance with the local laws and regulation.

Cities generally indicate the type of property transfer they propose. In that case, the bidding teams must submit a proposal aligned with the City’s (or site’s owner) expectation. When the City (or site’s owner) has not specified the nature of the property transfer, bidding teams must propose a legal framework in accordance with their business model. 

What happens after the submission of the Expression of Interest?

Following the submission of the Expressions of Interest, the City will undertake, with the support of C40, a technical analysis of the Expressions of Interest, based on the evaluation criteria defined above (and if any, in the SSR).

For each site, the City supported by C40 will set up a selection committee that will issue recommendations for the City to retain the finalist bidding teams. The general rule is for cities to select 3 finalists per site, but for some specific case, the City may decide to retain more finalists, with a maximum of 5 finalist teams. 

The selected bidding teams will be invited to submit a proposal in the final phase of the competition. 

Can a team withdraw its proposal?

Teams may withdraw their proposals until the submission of final bids. 

The final submission of the proposal will be considered a commitment from the representative of the bidding team, for a minimum period of eighteen months from the date of the deadline for submissions.


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