Innovative projects to improve the energy intelligence of cities
Nine projects from EUROCITIES members are in the running for the EUROCITIES awards 2014. The shortlist was drawn up by an independent jury, comprising Joachim Lorenz, head of the Department of Health and Environment, Sabine Bock, director of the NGO “Women in Europe for a Common Future”, Susanne Poelchau, head of the knowledge and research editorial team at the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation (Bayerischer Rundfunk), Iván Tosics, managing director of the Metropolitan Research Institute (MRI) in Budapest, and Marie-Hélène Vareille, policy officer at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the environment.
The jury has selected the following projects out of a total of 19 entries from 17 cities in three different categories, all related to the conference theme “Energising cities – energy intelligent cities of tomorrow”. The three winners will be announced at the EUROCITIES awards ceremony on 5 November 2014 at BMW Welt.
Cooperation: Liverpool – REECH initiative
Through REECH, Liverpool works with a range of partners, including social housing providers and local authorities, to improve the energy efficiency of social housing and SME business premises in its most deprived communities. This €21 million project, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will retrofit some 2,000 social housing units and 40 business premises with energy efficiency measures and low carbon technologies. In doing so, it will support local supply chains, promote skills development and encourage new business start ups in this emerging sector. There is a strong community involvement: the city is engaging with its residents to change their energy behaviour and make the best of the technologies installed in their homes.
Cooperation: Rotterdam – De Verkeersonderneming/Marketplace for Mobility
Rotterdam region is one of the more congested parts of The Netherlands, so in 2013 the city launched ‘De Verkeersonderneming’ (Marketplace for Mobility). The marketplace brings together a range of different ‘peak traffic avoidance services’ to encourage commuters to leave their cars at home. The services can include shuttle buses, traffic information apps and fitness schemes, promoting walking or cycling instead of driving. The services were selected through tenders, with the first in 2013 resulting in 16 different winners. The city was particularly in favour of services that address issues besides accessibility and that improve quality of life for citizens. The first round of 16 services is expected to result in 4,300 instances of commuters avoiding peak traffic over three years. A second tender closed in May 2014 to select a new batch of service providers.
Cooperation: Tampere – ITS Factory
At ITS Factory, solutions are developed to make it easier for people to move around conveniently, safely and with a minimum environmental impact. It is a collaborative space where developers, companies, research organisations and individuals come together to create new intelligent transport systems and services (ITS). ITS Factory offers the tools developers need to create new services, including reliable, standard transport data, and crucially, it offers Tampere’s traffic and road network as a ‘testbed’ for new solutions. ITS Factory brings together a community of likeminded stakeholders, whose services are currently being used by around 2,000 people a week.
Innovation: Edinburgh – Auld but not Reekie – transforming transport energy use in Edinburgh
‘Auld Reekie’ is the traditional name for Edinburgh, referring to the smoky chimneys that once characterised the city. But its municipal bus company, Lothian Buses, is going a long way to combat this image with ‘Auld but not Reekie’, an initiative that by the end of 2014 will see 65 hybrid buses in service and 45 buses retrofitted with low emissions exhausts. In doing so, the company has managed to cut its carbon footprint by 2,000 tonnes per year and has significantly improved quality of life for Edinburgh’s residents, especially in areas of high pollution. The new bus provision in Edinburgh has led to a 7-10% rise in passengers on the hybrid bus routes, who have been drawn away from their cars not just by the environmental factors, but also due to features such as onboard wifi.
Innovation: Oslo – The electric vehicle capital
With 6,615 electric vehicles registered in Oslo, residents clearly find driving one a convenient option in the city. Oslo has gone to great lengths to ensure that electric car drivers have everything they need to make their journeys as comfortable as possible, including frequent charging points, dedicated parking spaces and access to bus lanes. This is part of Oslo’s ambitious greenhouse gas reduction plans for 2030, towards which the transport sector is a big contributor. The city liaised with environmental stakeholders to develop the best approach to increasing the uptake of electric vehicles, including consulting on the quantity and location of charging points. The city provides grants to ensure all municipal vehicles are emissions free by 2015, while the removal of VAT on electric cars at national level has helped reinforce the measures being taken at city level.
Innovation: Vilnius – Interactive energy classification map
Residents of Vilnius’ 2,800 city-owned apartment blocks can now access an online map to evaluate and compare the heat consumption of their buildings. This interactive map uses a classification system, ‘actual energy consumption class’, to sort buildings into six categories according to their heat consumption, ranging from good to especially bad. Vilnius is currently in the process of renovating the blocks, with a goal of 600 by 2020. This would make a big difference to the city’s heat consumption, but in the meantime it hopes to raise awareness among residents of ways to improve energy efficiency. By visiting the map online or on their smartphones, residents can find out how their building ranks, compare its consumption over several years and compare it with other buildings in the city. The city then offers tips on how to improve efficiency, such as insulation, window and door replacement and heating system modernisation.
Participation: Dortmund – Masterplan for Energy Transition
Dortmund’s Masterplan for Energy Transition brings all sorts of stakeholders together to develop a vision for the city’s energy future. The process was established in response to the German government’s decision to shut down all nuclear power stations by 2022. Together, representatives from universities, science, business and civil society are mapping out an energy strategy for the city that covers areas from resource efficiency through to education. Exchanges happens through various means, including discussion platforms and co-decision making. The process is coordinated by a core team and overseen by a steering committee chaired by the lord mayor. An implementation roadmap has been drawn up, incorporating the projects and key topics that have emerged from the discussions.
Participation: Malaga – Energy efficiency refurbishment in social housing through participation
Malaga is involving residents in the energy refurbishment of ‘Los Limoneros’, a social housing building made up of 140 apartments. The building is associated with unemployment, distrust in the local authorities, high crime rates and illegal activities, so the city realised that in order to succeed, it would need to get residents on board. This meant taking into account residents’ needs as well as the building’s technical requirements, and also setting up a ‘pilot project participative group’ bringing together residents, property owners and city council staff. Measures such as roof and floor insulation, heating sanitary water with solar energy and new ventilation have helped improve the building’s energy classification from a grade F to D. By installing 45 smart meters in low income housing across the city, it has also helped residents to better understand the impact of their energy consumption. In addition, Malaga carried out a wider awareness raising campaign, estimated to have reached some 23,000 people.
Participation: The Hague – Sustainability in The Hague neighbourhoods; participation in co-creation
The Hague is helping its residents turn their ideas for sustainability projects into reality. Through its ‘Sustainability in The Hague neighbourhoods’ incentive scheme, groups of citizens can apply for a grant of up to €8,000 to support the development of their proposals. This grant is intended to cover, for example, notary fees, professional advice or research, rather than the acquisition of projects or material. In order to apply, citizens must organise themselves into associations or foundations, which can include businesses and organisations, and then must present an outline of their idea to the municipality. In 2013, this process resulted in 27 plans, a number of which have already been implemented. This year, a further 31 projects have been approved by the city. Together, citizens are helping to put in place a range of sustainability measures, including new neighbourhood gardens, heating homes with residual heat from shops, and installing solar panels.