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Starting the R2CITIES home run

In late October, the R2CITIES team met in Kartal, Turkey, for its second-to-last project meeting. As we look ahead to the final months of the project, our attention is on the monitoring of the works. This will allow us to build a picture of the energy savings and the overall sustainability of the endeavours over the last four years.

Unlike previous project meetings hosted by Kartal Municipality, this one took place at the main demo building which will soon be operational following its energy retrofit. Furthermore, Kartal mayor, Dr. Altinok Öz, along with his deputy Mr Gülcemal Fidan, were there to welcome the consortium, underling the municipality’s commitment to the project and to the broader issue of energy efficiency and sustainability. After the official reception, the municipality took the project team to view the works in the main demo building – a residential care home for the elderly – and the two other residential blocks in Kartal’s Yakacik district. Members from Istanbul Technical University and Kartal Municipality explained the heating and cooling system that has now been installed in the main demo building and everyone was able to visit a typical room for elderly residents. In one of the two other buildings, a resident who was instrumental in winning over his neighbours to R2CITIES explained how for some time there was not much support for the retrofitting. However over time, and with the help of this resident, neighbours changed their minds and actually started welcoming the initiative – so much so that many would now like to see R2CITIES extended to all the district’s blocks. The issue of social acceptance is a real one, applying to all smart cities projects. If energy bills can be brought down AND people become more “energy aware”, then we are moving in the right direction, and this seems to be what is happening in Kartal. The project team remained for two days in Kartal to map out the final leg of R2CITIES. The measurement and verification of the energy conservation measures, including ICT and data analysis was one of the main topics as most of the works are now complete at the demo sites.