1. Interview with Lucia González, Representing Commitment ‘524 – Formalising an Open Framework for Optimisation to tackle all elements of a city district’
Lucía Fernández is the leader of the Use Case Validation work package (WP3) of District of the Future (DoF) and represents EIP-SCC Commitment 524 – Formalising an Open Framework for Optimisation to tackle all elements of a city district. The project’s goal is to demonstrate that the energy consumption and the CO2 emissions in city districts can be lowered by 30-40% by using some innovative Information and Communication Technologies.
Could you describe your commitment in a few words?
The District of Future (DoF) is a project funded by the European Commission that aims at demonstrating how energy efficiency can ne increased in city districts using innovativeInformation and Communication Technology (ICT). The project is funded through the FP7 programme under the Directorate-General Communications Networks, Content and Technology. It is also known as A Modular Open Big Data Energy Optimizing Framework for cities and it supports the main goals of the HORIZON 2020 research and innovation policy improving Europe’s competitiveness, growth and job creation while tackling the main current and future societal challenges.
The project work intends to formalize an Open Framework for Optimisation to tackle all the elements of a city district together mainly focused on energy consumption and efficiency. Simply applying DoF strategies on other districts on European cities, it will contribute to the European objectives in Energy and Climate Change:
20% of energy from renewables
20% increase of energy efficiency
20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
The objectives of the District of Future project are:
To help city leaders achieve quantifiable and significant reductions up to 30 to 40% in energy consumption.
To improve citizen awareness and people’s involvement as part of the problem and, consequently, of the solution.
The outcomes of the project are:
To use innovative Information and Communication Technology (ICT) approaches.
To provide a system to support city authorities and citizens in making the right decisions.
What is the status of your commitment progress right now?
The DoF project will be finished by October 2016. We are right now finishing the technical activities such as platform design and validation, energy optimizing tools development, etc. and we have launched the End Users activities such as Engagement, Training, Dissemination and Business Model definition.
The DoF platform has been installed in three pilot use cases, so far. The three cities are located in different European countries, with different climate patterns throughout the year. This will enable the running of optimisation and simulation activities with different constraints and boundaries conditions. Moreover, the three use cases have had a different historical and social evolution thus making them three different test environments.
The chosen pilot cities are: Corby in the United Kingdom, Orleans in France and Sabadell in Spain. In each of them, energy efficiency and renewable energy devices have been deployed since the project started in 2013. Different building typologies have been chosen in each city to be controlled and monitored by the DoF platform so as to study different types of building such as residential and industrial areas.
What are the main strengths of your commitment?
From the beginning of the project until now we have already improved energy consumption in the district buildings involved in the use cases by implementing energy saving activities, achieving around 5-10% of the objectives.
The commitment will assure a 40% of energy savings not only in the three cities involved in the project but also in other European cities. The industrialization of the solution is a must for the DoF Project, through sustainable business models.
In addition, we have highlighted how important it is to introduce sustainable methods to reduce energy consumption in Europe by increasing energy efficiency. We thus expect that the environmental impacts of the DoF project will be significant. From a social perspective, there will also be important changes in citizens’ habits and lifestyles, through their involvement in the communication infrastructure in the district energy consumption reduction process.
Finally, the DoF project brings a significant revolution regarding energy sector business models. It will help both city managers and final users to get control over their energy consumption patterns which will lead to the deployment of energy efficient solutions and cost reduction having a substantial impact on local economies. Furthermore, we want to raise awareness about the importance of taking care of our planet and leveraging the new technologies that are, nowadays, within our reach.
What are the main challenges your commitment is facing and how could the Market Place help you to overcome them?
The main challenge of our commitment is the industrialization of the solution at a district level in other European cities and regions. Therefore, we need to disseminate and share as much as possible the results and lessons learned from our project. The Market Place will be of great help to contact other European cities interested in implementing our solutions.
What are your next steps?
The next step is to finalise the project in October 2016 and to define the way we will approach the market from the business model point of view.
More information here.
2. Nijmegen, Netherlands and Umeå, Sweden finalists for European Green Capital 2018 – ICLEI
Two of the three cities selected as finalists for the European Green Capital 2018 award are ICLEI Members. Nijmegen, Netherlands and Umeå, Sweden join ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands on the shortlist, selected by a panel of twelve experts who scored each applicant city across a number of environmental indicator areas. The winner will be announced on 22 June 2016 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Europe’s current Green Capital.
About the finalists
Nijmegen (The Netherlands) Nijmegen sits on the river Waal, between hills, polders and forests. It is a student city with more than 170 000 inhabitants. Building a sustainable living environment ranks very high on the municipal agenda: health and innovation are priorities. The city, which recognises the logic of moving towards a circular economy, will capitalise on renewable energy with a new energy efficient district connected to a residual heat network. The local energy cooperative is planning to build four wind turbines.
Umeå (Sweden) Umeå is located in northern Sweden with a growing population of 120 000 inhabitants. It is an international centre for research and education. The city, which held the title of 2014 European Capital of Culture, has invested in green infrastructure such as a municipal co-generation energy system, and in the co-owned hydro-electric power plant and clean water supply. The city council believes that with a growing population, Umeå’s success relies on social, ecological and economic sustainability.
’s-Hertogenbosch (The Netherlands) ’s-Hertogenbosch lies at the intersection between Amsterdam, Antwerp, Breda and Tilburg. With over 150 000 inhabitants, the municipality uses smart planning to reduce the environmental impact of new building developments, restricts traffic in the inner city and encourages the use of electric vehicles by developing charging infrastructure. The city is also making sure that municipal property will be carbon-neutral by 2020.
For more information visit the European Green Capital website.
3. ICLEI: The New Urban Agenda: Bringing urban development back to sustainability track
The 3rd UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (HabitatIII) has concluded regional and thematic consultations and will advance with the negotiations of the outcome document.
This new phase started with the Open Ended Informal Consultation Meetings (OEICM) held at the UN Headquarters in New York on 25-29 April 2016. It will continue with the release of the first draft of a negotiation document in early May, followed by informal negotiations including hearings with Local Authorities in May and with civil society in June, Preparatory Committee in July in Surabaya and the final conference in Quito in October.
This process will be conducted in the light of the 2 realities;
a) The Urban World, which introduces significant challenges and opportunities
b) The Age of Sustainability, where global community, through the adoption of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Paris Agreement in particular, is now on track to fulfill the promises they have committed 25 years ago at the 1992 Earth Summit that concluded with the Agenda 21 – the sustainability agenda for the humanity in the 21st Century.
ICLEI notes that over these more than 2 decades of concerted efforts, the urban community achieved significant success in particular in areas like biodiversity, climate change, disaster risk reduction, sustainable procurement in engaging all levels of government in the global efforts.
We sincerely recommend HABITATIII should build upon these achievements and make sure that the New Urban Agenda leads into a sustainable urban development globally and enable the global community to enjoy the transformative power of the Urban World.
The question for HABITATIII is now how to lead, guide, facilitate or support this transformation, taking into account the universal nature of Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement adopted by Heads of States, where the first includes a specific goal 11 on cities and human settlements and the latter recognizes the importance of engagement of all levels of governments, and non-Party stakeholders, including cities and other subnational authorities.
Within this scope, in addition to supporting the positions of the Global Task Force of Local and Regional Governments and General Assembly of Partners, ICLEI highlights 3 priorities;
1- Anchoring the NUA to SDG:11 and other SDGs
The NUA must be the universal driving frame to achieve a rapid implementation of SDG:11 and the other SDGs. As such, the NUA should be the home for SDG:11, in pursuit of attaining all the other goals as well.
2- The NUA at the National Level
The NUA must enable national governments to commit to national sustainable urban planning processes that features effective and democratic multi-level government cooperation and action building upon the experiences, practices and spirit of Chapter:28 of Agenda 21.
3- The NUA at the Global level
The NUA must enable the engagement of all levels of governments in the global governance of sustainability through innovative, integrated, inclusive governance approaches and mechanisms at UN level, pursuant to para 42 of the Rio+20 Outcome Document and preamble para.15 of Paris Agreement opened for signature on 22 April 2016.
Within this scope, ICLEI will support a global partnership for a Decade on Sustainable Urbanization, in collaboration with the One-UN system including the UN Subnational Climate Action Hub, Friends of Sustainable Cities, Global Task Force and General Assembly of Partners.
More information here.
4. World Resource Institute: A New Coalition Will Prove Sustainable Cities Are Better for Growth, Better for Climate
Cities are all about efficiency. It’s why they exist: to allow easy access to jobs, goods, services and ideas. However, in many countries, new and expanding cities are sprawling, car-dependent and uncoordinated – a set-up that’s not only inefficient, but carbon-intensive.
Thankfully, a new vision for sustainable urban growth is spreading, emphasizing the economic and environmental benefits of compact, connected and coordinated cities. More efficient urban growth can drive a productive, equitable economy while limiting traffic accidents, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Wide consensus is forming among national and local leaders, who understand the economic case for an urban transition. But while we have agreed on a better vision for future cities, what remains to be seen is the “how” of the transition.
To find these solutions, the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, New Climate Economy and C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group are teaming up to launch theCoalition for Urban Transitions. The Coalition, unveiled during today’s Climate Action 2016 Summit, will bring together global leaders and evidence-based solutions to make the economic case for a new model of urban development: one that is more productive, safer, healthier, more inclusive and lower carbon.
Working with 20 partner organizations, the Coalition will develop a continuous stream of economic evidence and policy strategies to help national and local decision-makers working towards a transition. It will be championed by a high-profile Urban Leadership Group, expected to include members of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and other prominent city, national and international leaders.
Together, these institutions and individuals span the globe. What they all share is a common purpose: unlocking a better urban future for all.
This will be one of the first major international initiatives to focus on the economics of urban transitions, and will focus in particular on the role of national policymakers. Through high-level thought leadership and a series of country studies, the Coalition will help put effective urban infrastructure investment where it belongs—at the heart of national economic development planning.
The Economic Case for Better Urbanization
Analysis by the New Climate Economy finds that investing in public transit, building efficiency and waste management in cities could unlock an economic dividend worth almost $17 trillion by 2050 from energy savings alone – and that’s just a fraction of the wider benefits. This could also reduce carbon emissions each year by more than the current annual emissions of India.
Evidence-based solutions like improved finance for infrastructure, integrated land-use planning, and transit-oriented development can empower sustainable, economically dynamic cities. For example, WRI Ross Center research shows that investing in sustainable transport could save as much as $300 billion per year, while C40’s Transit Oriented Development Network is advancing policies for integrated land use and transportation.
Better Planning for Better Cities
Individual cities often do not have the resources to carry out large-scale investments in smart urban infrastructure. Only 4 percent of the 500 largest cities in developing countries are deemed creditworthy in international financial markets.
National governments, though, working hand-in-hand with cities and the private sector, can unlock the power of urban areas to invest and innovate. For example, national leaders and ministers can:
Develop national urban infrastructure strategies (like China’s National Plan for New Urbanization) and set up integrated land use and transport authorities to more effectively plan and connect urban growth;
Reduce or eliminate fossil fuel subsidies to remove incentives for car-centric development and encourage more sustainable transport;
Change planning laws to encourage mixed-use development over sprawled, segmented cities; and
Scale up innovative finance mechanisms to support large-scale urban infrastructure projects.
National economic planning has too long ignored the real importance of cities, so that’s where the Coalition for Urban Transitions comes in. It will link city-level strategies with broader economic development planning, so that individual city efforts add up to more than the sum of their parts.
The Coalition will work on the ground with three to five rapidly urbanizing countries on their national urban infrastructure and financing strategies. Potential countries include China, India and a number of rapidly urbanizing African, South Asian and Latin American economies. The work will be demand-driven, based on timely and relevant research, and done in close collaboration with key economic decisionmakers.
There’s evidence this method of change works. Last year, the New Climate Economy collaborated with the Ethiopian government to inform its national level urbanization strategy. It found that Ethiopia’s development was too focused on its capital, Addis Ababa, at the expense of its other cities. The Unlocking the Power of Ethiopia’s Cities report mapped out potential city clusters and corridors of economic activity that could enhance the role of secondary cities without taking away from Addis’s growth. Policymakers incorporated this more efficient approach into Ethiopia’s new Five Year Growth and Transformation Plan, which is being implemented today.
With the help of the Coalition for Urban Transitions, leaders at all levels can be empowered to transform cities through relevant research and locally appropriate policies. By working to inform economic development planning, we can have better cities, better growth and a better climate.
More information here.
5. Singapore: Launch of Lee Hsien Loong Interactive Digital Media Smart Nation Award
From 2017, the Ministry of Education will introduce the Lee Hsien Loong Interactive Digital Media (IDM) Smart Nation Award to all polytechnic students. This is following the Prime Minister’s donation of an additional $250,000 to the endowment fund set up for education awards.
The Award will recognise full-time polytechnic students who have completed IDM projects that will contribute to the Smart Nation initiative by harnessing technology to improve the lives of citizens, creating more opportunities, and supporting stronger communities. The Award also reinforces the SkillsFuture movement because of the highly applied nature of the projects. Relevant IDM projects include:
Smart Mobility – creating a more seamless transport experience through new travel options and greater access to real-time transport information;
Smart Living – improving daily living in our homes through smart devices;
Smart Health and Wellness – delivering better healthcare services and wellness applications for seniors and citizens through effective use of information technology; and
Digital Services – improved government operations and service delivery through technology.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: “To build a Smart Nation, and make full use of IT in our lives, we need to gather good ideas from many sources. I want to encourage young people to be interested in IT, and to come up with creative ways of using IT to improve our lives. There is lots of enthusiasm and talent among Polytechnic students. I hope this new Award will stimulate more Polytechnic students to do their best, to use their imagination and skills to do outstanding projects in Interactive Digital Media, which will make a difference to Singapore.”
About Smart Nation
Singapore strives to be a Smart Nation, in which our people are empowered by technology to lead meaningful and fulfilled lives. By harnessing the power of networks, data and info-comm technologies, we endeavour to improve living, create economic opportunity and build a closer community. We have the conducive environment to experiment, prototype and deploy innovative solutions that can be shared with other global cities. It is an exciting journey, and we want your ideas to help us realise our vision.
For more information visit smartnation.