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Energy aspects of the city of tomorrow - conference report

The European conference "Building the city of tomorrow: the energy dimension", which took place during EXPO'98 on 29 and 30 May 1998, outlined the way forward to developing sustainable European cities for the future. The venue for the conference was chosen due to its innovativ...
The European conference "Building the city of tomorrow: the energy dimension", which took place during EXPO'98 on 29 and 30 May 1998, outlined the way forward to developing sustainable European cities for the future. The venue for the conference was chosen due to its innovative "Global strategy for energy and environment" approach, and the EXPO site planners have employed the energy technologies of "The city of tomorrow", resulting in an overall energy consumption reduction of 50%.

The conference brought together some of Europe's leading policy-makers, academics and industrialists and was attended by European Commissioner for Energy, Mr. Christos Papoutsis, and the Portuguese Economy Minister, Mr. Joaquim Pina Moura and Mr. José Mariano Gago, Portuguese Minister for Science and Technology.

The overall aim of the conference was to outline the way forward to shaping Europe of the future. One of the major objectives was to develop a strategy that would emphasize the importance of energy in the Key Action "City of Tomorrow and Cultural Heritage" of the Community's upcoming Fifth RTD Framework Programme.

Since 80% of Europe's population live in cities and consume 65% of all energy, addressing the energy component of "The City of Tomorrow" is vital. In line with the impetus given by the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, DG XVII views the support of demonstration projects as an essential tool in the promotion of a strategy for sustainable urban development. The active participation of industry and utilities in the RTD Programme is largely encouraged and this approach received the support of the urban planners, municipalities, local authorities and the consortia of industries during the conference.

The conference developed this approach by focusing on four key components:

- Global issues;
- The built environment;
- Urban infrastructure;
- The integration of technologies and urban management.

Commissioner Papoutsis stated that the interaction between the economic, social and environmental aspects of our society is so strong that the urban dimension must be integrated into decision-making, the energy component being essential. It is the variable that provides better services and lowers the costs of all societal needs. He also stated that innovation in energy technology is the catalyst to improving competitiveness and economic welfare and that the liberalisation of energy markets is the key to unlocking new opportunities for energy, since new and unexplored markets will be opened up. He feels the "City of Tomorrow and Cultural Heritage" key action, will help to create a bridge between energy technologies and environmental issues. In order to do so he suggested that the following concepts be fully developed:

- Urban sustainable development and rational resources management;
- Protection, conservation and rehabilitation of the European Cultural heritage;
- Promotion and demonstration of clean and efficient building technologies;
- Evaluation and development of sustainable urban transport systems.

Other Commission representatives, including Mr Sampaio Nunes, of DG XVII, highlighted important issues in this context, emphasising the importance of a demand-side approach and stating that a 50% reduction in energy use in buildings through conservation and renewables is possible. Mr Andreta, of DG XII, highlighted the fact that innovation requires new management of RTD results, with a more market orientated approach being adopted.

The Portuguese Minister of Science and Technology, Mr José Mariano Gago, proposed that the "City of Tomorrow and Cultural Heritage" key action should be co-ordinated in tandem with EUREKA (the EU programme for cooperation between European firms and research institutes) and echoed the support and the mandate given by the conference to promote the energy dimension in the preparation of the aforementioned Key Action.

Related information

Countries

  • Portugal
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