Why smart, joined-up thinking is key to urban renewal
An ambitious EU-funded initiative to encourage sustainable urban regeneration across Europe recently held its kick off meeting in Valladolid, Spain.
The five-year EU-funded REMOURBAN project, which will officially be launched in April 2015, aims to combine pioneering energy, ICT and transport solutions in order to transform urban life in three cities: Valladolid in Spain, Tepebasi/Eskisehir in Turkey and Nottingham in the UK. Two more cities – Seraing in Belgium and Miskolc in Hungary – will act as ‘follower cities’.
The ultimate objective is to develop a holistic approach to urban renewal that can then be rolled out across Europe. Each partner city will develop innovations according to their own needs, which will then be shared across the five cities to develop generic city solutions.
Nottingham for example is a leader in sustainable transport; it was the first UK city to introduce stringent environmental standards for all buses entering the city centre. The REMOURBAN project will establish an electric bus service, with electricity to recharge the buses powered by burning city waste. This will achieve further carbon savings of around 40 % compared to conventional diesel buses.
The project will also establish a collection point for delivery of goods into Nottingham city centre via small electric vehicles, reducing the number of large vehicles used for domestic and business deliveries. The solution is scalable, cost effective and makes more effective use of existing infrastructures.
In Valladolid, housing stock in one target neighbourhood will be renovated, leading to significant energy savings. District heating with biomass and photovoltaic panels for power generation will be introduced. A fleet of electric buses will also be deployed, along with around 20 electric taxis. New fast charge points for taxis and buses will be created. The project is expected to significantly increase the provision of sustainable transport.
In all three cities, retrofitted properties will be equipped with smart energy metering systems. These will provide dual streams of information; one for the energy provider in order to improve billing accuracy and one for the consumer, who will be able to better assess their own energy usage. Urban infrastructures will be optimised through ICT solutions such as e-ticketing systems and user-friendly city information platforms.
The kick-off meeting in Valladolid included presentations from the cities involved, and a discussion about what this project will ultimately achieve. Key challenges were discussed, such as how best to combine improvements in all three sectors – energy, ICT and transport – in a smooth, harmonious manner that truly benefits citizens.
It is hoped that REMOURBAN will also lead to cross-border strategic partnerships between innovation-driven companies. Engaging and empowering citizens to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption is also vital to improving the urban environment.
REMOURBAN will receive EU funding over the next five years totalling EUR 21.5 million. The project consortium consists of 22 European partners, who, through combining their expertise, will help drive urban regeneration forward to ensure that social progress and environmental sustainability for all citizens is achieved.
The project is one of three funded under a Smart Cities and Communities 2014 call.