How can Europe’s top cities collaborate on climate reduction tech?
Sharing Cities is a large scale smart city project which tests 10 types of smart city technology aimed at tackling climate change. These span mobility, smart lampposts, retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient, citizen engagement applications, energy management systems, and big data.
It spans six cities: three lighthouse cities – London, Milan and Lisbon – which have all been given grants to focus tests on each technology; and three replicator cities: Warsaw, Bordeaux and Burgas. These cities are not grant-funded but are there to “see what works” according to Nathan Pierce. This allows the project to scale up tests and see if they can be replicated in other cities.
The cities have partnered with 34 organisations spanning major companies, such as Siemens; Universities; the European Commission; and many national government projects.
“We are coming to an ending now, and we’re beginning to extract what really worked during this project,” said Pierce. “The initial aim was to use the €24 million of EU funding (from the EU Horizon 2020 Smart Cities and Communities programme) to trigger €500 million of further investment, and we are about halfway on that journey. So, it has been a huge success and a lot of the technologies we have tried have worked, much to our surprise.
“It has also helped make the case for collaboration between academic and technology organisations, and between cities.”
The investment has come from a mix of public and private funds across all six cities, including city, regional or national government funds, as well as grants from other organisations including the European Union, and public-private partnerships.
The majority of investments cover the built environment, including building retrofits (around €200 million captured, or about 80 percent of the total); mobility measures (around €45 million/18 percent); and urban data platforms (€5 million).
Burgas has captured the largest investment with around €175 million. This is mostly in building retrofits, but the city continues to broaden its portfolio of plans to include most of the Sharing Cities measures.
Warsaw is prioritising investment in upgrading the city’s parking facilities, including over €800,000 towards its ‘Park & Ride’ car park scheme designed to boost the use of e-mobility and reduce congestion. This concept combines renewable power management with green infrastructure and will be deployed in 16 locations across the city.
Lisbon has already captured €40 million of investment towards its e-mobility fleet of e-bikes, e-cars and e-scooters.
Fellow lighthouse cities Milan and London say they also plan to continue to roll out Sharing Cities solutions.
Milan became involved in the project in 2012 and began adopting plans across a range of policy areas, from urban development to sustainability to energy efficiency. It also began looking at smart city technology such as smart mobility, smart environments, and smart inclusion.
For the building sector, Milan focussed on making efficient real estate building stock.
Roberto Nocerino, Milan’s lead on the Sharing Cities Programme, told the London Tech Week conference that Milan’s air climate plan – still in draft form – will look to reduce CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030 and the creation of a carbon neutral city by 2050.
“Another crucial sector is mobility and transport,” added Nocerino. “We are pushing for a shift from private mobility to sustainable means of transport, such as car sharing, with the introduction of congestion charges and the creation of cycle paths.”
Another key focus area is making existing buildings more efficient. Milan has already seen pollution reduced by 65% and energy savings of 59% in retrofitted private homes. The city has just completed the fourth of its six planned retrofits as part of the Sharing Cities project and is on track to exceed targets, retrofitting over 3,000 square metres more than the 25,000 square metres initially planned. The retrofit itself was carried out by Teicos UE Srl together with Future Energy Srl.
Maria Elena Hugony, of construction company Teicos Group, said that the retrofit had been challenging because, to improve energy measures by at least 50%, they needed to get flat owners on board in order to pay part of the intervention.
“It was a really positive experience for us,” she told the panel. “The partnership between private and public entities was really fruitful and fundamental to overcoming the barriers to energy retrofitting. The co-design experience was a new approach for building owners and aimed to involve property owners directly in making choices about what energy measures were implemented in their building.
“The collaboration allowed us to overcome some of the trust barriers over energy retrofitting in multi-property buildings. The partnership was very positive and effective, but we’ve got a long way to go to strengthen this even further beyond the Sharing Cities Project.”
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