Guidelines

and Notice of the competition framework

Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

The competition documents, including the Regulation of the competition and the Site Specific Requirements documents, can be downloaded from this website. Please find the application process outline below.

Objectives of Reinventing Cities 


Reinventing Cities is a competition initiated by the C40 to stimulate ambitious carbon-neutral developments across the globe and to implement the best ideas to transform underutilized sites into beacons of sustainability and resilience and act as a showcase for future zero-carbon urban developments.

Reinventing Cities will:

  • 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 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. 

Therefore, each Reinventing Cities project should serve as a model for carbon-neutral development, demonstrating innovative and replicable climate solutions and providing local community benefits. 


Structure of the competition

To consider the specificities of each city and of each site, the competition is structured by two documents: 

  • The Regulation document, common to all sites unless otherwise indicated in the Site Specific Requirements document (SSR).
  • One Site Specific Requirements document (SSR) for each site, where each city details the specifications for the redevelopment of its site, outlines the local rules and procedures (planning, bidding/purchasing procedures, requirements and conditions, etc.), and indicates its specific timeline.

Therefore, the bidding teams are expected to submit proposals that both:

  • Comply with the common objectives, criteria and requirements detailed in this Regulation document.
  • Comply with the specifications and requirements provided in each Site Specific Requirements document (SSR).

Note that the local rules and legislation prevail over the common requirements defined in this Regulation document.

The regulation document and the Site Specific Requirement (SSR) of each site can be downloaded from the reinventing cities website.


Outcomes of Reinventing Cities

“Reinventing Cities” is an international competition that will enable the cities to identify and select the best projects for the redevelopment of their sites. The sites proposed by the cities form a diverse supply of land and buildings which are quickly available, and owned by the cities or by city partners. 

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 (or site owner) will organize the legal arrangement to finalize the site transfer, in compliance with the local laws and regulation. 

For each site, these legal arrangements can take different forms: sale agreement, rental contract, lease-back, occupation etc. The bidding teams will find in the SSR the information concerning the type of site transfer chosen by each site owner for its site. 


Reinventing Cities Sites

Participating cities have identified underutilized sites and invite multidisciplinary teams to compete for the opportunity to transform these sites.

These sites comprise a diverse supply of land at various states of development, with a wide range of sizes and typologies – from existing buildings to empty parcels, and from a small plot in a city centre to a large site in a new development area. With this wide variety, C40 and participating cities hope the proposals submitted by the bidding teams will combine a range of solutions to address environmental challenges the cities face.

The sites proposed for the competition can be found on the public website www.c40reinventingcities.org.


Bidding teams Qualifications

The purpose of Reinventing Cities is to encourage new types of collaborations that can create novel approaches and attractive projects. The “Bidding teams” or “teams” will be the term used to describe all of the involved members involved in a consortium. The legal entities, the roles, the responsibilities, and the commitments of each party should be clearly defined. 

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 actors that help to achieve the goals of Reinventing Cities.  In addition to architects, environmental experts, developers, investors and contractors, teams could include creative project holders, start-ups, artists, community stakeholders, etc. 

Together, this multidisciplinary team will develop the project from its genesis to the implementation and operational phase, and turn the proposal into reality. Therefore, the bidding teams are encouraged to form a consortium as early as possible so that the site operators and the future users of the site can give substance to the project and tailor it to their specific needs. 

While not required, the team may combine international and local expertise.  The presence of a local partner will be critical to assist in complying with the locally applicable rules and regulations and to facilitate local stakeholder involvement.

In the expression of interest phase, the bidding team must at least appoint a qualified person in charge of the project design such as an architect or an urban designer, and an environmental expert. Additionally, the team must designate the organization/company that will be the lead representative of the team and will bear ultimate responsibility on behalf of the team. Note that for the Expression of Interest phase, it is not required - while it is highly appreciated - for the team to include a developer, investor or financial backer with the capability to implement the team’s project. 


Reinventing Cities – provisional timeline

The competition will include two stages: the first will be the expression of interest phase, and the second, the proposal phase. The provisional timeline of the competition is as follows:

Competition kick-off

  • information about the process and the site available on the public website www.c40reinventingcities.org;
  • opening of the dataroom phase 1;
  • publication on the website of the present expression of interest regulation, and of the SSR for each site.

Phase 1 ’Expression of Interest’ (3 to 5 months)

  • input into the dataroom by the cities and C40;
  • development of the Expression of Interest by the bidding teams;
  • questions/answers via the dataroom;
  • site visits for the bidding teams;
  • submission of expressions of interest: to be indicated in each SSR.

Analysis of the expressions of interest and selection committee for expressions of interest (2 to 3 months).

Phase 2 ‘Proposal’ (4 to 6 months)


  • opening of the dataroom phase 2 to shortlisted applicants only;
  • opening of the questions/answers and possible dialogue with the shortlisted bidding teams;
  • submission of proposals.

Analysis of the proposals and final selection committee (2 to 3 months)



Content and selection criteria for the Expression of Interest phase


The Expression of Interest file will be made up of three documents: 

  • description of the bidding team and its organisation;
  • presentation of the project and development concept for the site (roughly 10 pages in A4 or US-Letter format and one A3 sized or tabloid board of simple concept illustrations);
  • presentation of the intended legal and financial set up.

The Expression of Interest must be submitted electronically using the “Submit a project” tab visible on each site’s webpage.

Please find more information on the content of the Expression of Interest in the regulation. 

For each site, the Expression of Interest will be judged and selected based on the following criteria. These criteria will not be weighted unless it is specified in the SSR:

1. The relevance of the project to the specifics of the site. The jury will assess the team’s understanding of site-specific challenges and the adequacy of their proposal with regards to the city’s goals and objectives as outlined in the SSR. They will specifically evaluate the relevance and quality of the program, including the uses and activities proposed for the site.

2. The solutions proposed to address the 10 challenges defined above. The jury will assess the quality of the proposed solutions and their replicability across the city and the world. While the bidding teams are encouraged to address all the challenges, it is important for teams to emphasize the relevant challenges that are most relevant for the site, meaning the ones that will enable the City and the local neighborhoods to catalyze change towards decarbonized, sustainable and resilient urban development.

3. The suitability of the team. The jury will assess the coherence between the composition and the skills of the team and the nature of the project. The jury will also assess the experience and financial capability of the team to successfully implement the proposed project. 

Note that for some of the sites, additional specifications regarding these criteria may be provided by each city and detailed within each SSR. The bidding teams should refer to the SSR for further details on these specific local requirements

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 recommendation 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.

A specific regulation for the second phase of the competition will be drawn up by each city and provided to the finalist bidding teams ahead of the start of this final phase.


The Environmental Challenges to be addressed 

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). The objective of this challenge is to reduce the GHG emissions and the environmental impact of energy production and consumption. 

The proposed development should go beyond current 'Business-As-Usual' energy standards to demonstrate exemplary energy efficiency, clean energy usage and strive to achieve net zero energy or ‘positive energy’ status. The energy strategy developed by the bidding teams should strive to include the following: (i) passive design and efficient building form and fabric; (ii) energy efficient appliances/equipment; (iii) occupant control, monitoring and evaluation of energy consumption; (iv) on-site and off-site production and consumption of renewable energy; (v) energy storage; (vi) societal benefits related to sustainable energy. 

Energy efficiency is a high priority in the design and operation of the buildings and public spaces. This means minimizing the amount of energy a building uses for heating, cooling, hot water, lighting, ventilation, electrical services etc. Fostering the production and use of clean energy at the site is also key. 

2. Life cycle assessment and sustainable materials management (mandatory). The objective of this challenge is to reduce the embodied carbon of the project which refers to the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions that occur during the manufacture and transport of construction materials, as well as the construction process itself and end-of-life aspects of the building. 

The project should prioritize building retrofits over demolishing old buildings or building new ones, and choose construction materials with lower emissions from the extraction-, manufacturing-, transportation- and end of life phase. For example, timber and low-carbon concrete. Reusing and recycling construction materials is also of great importance.

3. Low-carbon mobility. The objective of this challenge is to foster sustainable mobility options. The bidding teams should design their projects to facilitate and encourage walking, cycling, public transport, shared vehicles and electric and other low-emission vehicles and to de-incentivize the use of fossil fuel transport. 

The proposed development should go beyond 'Business-As-Usual' to demonstrate exemplary standards of green mobility to reduce energy consumption related to transport as well as to contribute to clean air standards. 

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.  The challenges detailed below cover important strategies to help deliver landmark sustainable and resilient projects, but are not exhaustive:

4. Climate resilience and adaption. The objective of this challenge is to develop a project that is resilient to current and future climate hazards specific to the location of the site. Bidding teams should integrate climate resilience measures throughout the project. 

The project should be resilient towards climate hazards such as, temperature rise, increase in intensity and frequency of winds and storms, flooding, sea level rise, droughts. This means that the project should include a climate change assessment, including the climate hazards that the specific site is exposed to, under which climate change scenarios and in what time horizon. With this assessment as a starting point, projects should seek to implement adaptation measures. 

Resilience should cover two aspects: (i) Occupant resilience, such as tree planting or shaded areas to protect residents from the heat island effect. (ii) Building resilience, such as reinforced foundation in locations where strong winds could cause damage, consideration of how droughts could affect building material stability or modular design. Other examples include water evacuation mechanisms in flood prone areas such as with water retention basins and significant permeable areas. 

5. Ecological services for the neighbourhood and green jobs. The objective of this challenge is to use the site to develop new ecological services for the neighborhood that will help foster sustainable lifestyle and consumption habits and will reduce the environmental footprint of the city, whilst creating green jobs. 

Bidding teams should consider using the site as a catalyst to leverage existing green services or to develop new urban services for the neighbourhood that help to reduce the city’s environmental impact. Strategies include supply and export of clean energy, new services for waste collection, development of sustainable freight and urban logistics, creation of pooled and shared services, creation of new public parks, etc. 

Bidding teams should also consider integrating methods of producing and trading goods that foster sustainable consumption habits such as encouraging local production and urban agriculture, embracing circular economy approach with ‘Fab-labs’, zero-waste stores and shared spaces that allow retailers and craftspeople to experiment and pool their resources. 

Finally, bidding teams should consider hosting and incubating green start-up companies onsite, providing jobs in ecological sectors and stimulating green job development.

6. Sustainable water management. The objective of this challenge is to develop sustainable water management systems. 

In order to address the impacts of water shortage or droughts, bidding teams should seek to lower water demand (e.g. low-flow fixtures and appliances, smart metering) and manage water usage sustainably (e.g. provide wastewater treatment solutions, collect rainwater). 

In order to address the impacts of flooding or rain/storm damage, bidding teams should include systems to evacuate water efficiently and increase permeable areas to avoid flooded areas. 

Bidding teams should consider both potable and non-potable water management in the design of their project and should prioritize water saving where possible. 

7. Sustainable waste management. The objective of this challenge is to accelerate the transition towards a zero-waste city and to develop sustainable waste management during the project’s operational phase, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while providing co-benefits such as reduction in scarce resources extraction and fossil fuel consumption. 

Bidding teams should consider developing services, actions and tools that help decrease solid waste generation on the site, specifically by reducing single-use and non-recyclable plastics and surplus food, and by fostering goods reparability and recyclability. Bidding teams should also consider implementing source separated collection, specifically for food scraps and other organics. 

8. Biodiversity, urban re-vegetation and agriculture. The objective of this challenge is to preserve biodiversity, and to develop greenery and urban agriculture to mitigate climate risks and to foster sustainable environment. 

Bidding teams should consider developing green and blue infrastructure to maintain and promote urban biodiversity, to provide important ecosystem services such as pollination and climate resilience, to mitigate heat island effect and to reduce energy needed to cool and heat buildings (e.g. green roof and wall gardens). This could also include development of local and sustainable food systems (urban agriculture) in order to decrease food miles and to raise awareness about the benefits of fresh, seasonal food and local production.

Finally, the bidding teams must propose projects that combine environmental performance with high-quality architecture and 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. The objective of this challenge is to develop inclusive services and actions to serve the needs of the local population, and to involve the local community and stakeholders in the development of the project. 

Bidding teams must ensure that the project strives to serve the needs of the residents and the neighborhood where it is located. An emphasis should be placed on understanding the existing neighborhood context so that the project is responsive to major needs, challenges and issues of the local residents and businesses (both those in the formal and informal economy). Examples include developing projects that will be accessible to different parts of the population (social background, age, gender, origin, economic status, etc.), prioritizing mixed-used development, and promoting projects and activities that support citizen health and wellness. 

Moreover, the bidding teams are required to involve local stakeholders and surrounding neighborhoods in the project design and future management; effective community engagement is important to ensure that the proposed project is relevant and appropriate for those living and working in the area. 

10. Innovative architecture and urban design. The objective of this challenge is to combine environmental performances with high-quality architecture and urban design. Projects must upgrade the site while integrating into the urban environment and the wider neighborhood in which the site is located. 

The bidding team should propose a unique world-class architectural approach through spatial design, building form, choice of materials, use of natural light, and artistic elements among others. This may also include activating new places such as “underutilized” spaces (e.g. rooftops or basements), developing new types of services for the inhabitants and the users of the site, designing public space to foster activity and connectedness. Besides upgrading the site itself, proposals must therefore also contribute to improving the wider precinct or neighborhood in which it is located.

Further guidance relating to the 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 website.
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