Europe

  • The “Local Energy Grids”, founded In 2012 by the French region of Brittany, seeks to promote clean energy related innovations and development and has funded 10 projects over the course of the past two contests. The contest is open to local communities, awarding €100 000 for project management and €150 000 to public-private partnership based projects. These projects must use local resources and connect to previously realized projects in increasing the energy efficiency of its local energy system. According to Renaud Layadi, Senior Adviser, International networks at the Regional Council of Brittany, the contest is a useful means of engaging more remote regions in the development and testing local innovations before upscaling these innovations to a wider, national or international, market.

    Source: Climate Group article 

    Read more about the region’s clean energy plan and related programs

  • The Danish city of Copenhagen has taken a technology-forward step towards reducing its carbon emissions levels in the goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral capitol by 2025, installing a vast network of smart technology solutions throughout the city. Among the recent additions are a network of sensors which monitor traffic and provide drivers with up-to-date information on traffic, as well as a network of LED streetlights which conserve energy by brightening and dimming as pedestrians approach.

    LED lights are among the key components of the global trend towards low-carbon focused development, with cities expected to install an estimated 50 million LED lights over the next three years. However, the array of smart sensors installed throughout the city will eventually support efforts to increase efficiency and energy conservation in services such as sanitation and transportation.

    While many of the most dominant players in the field of smart city technology are well-established global giants such as Cisco, IBM, and Philips, smaller players such as Silver Spring Networks, the company providing the networking platform, software, and services of the infrastructure of Copenhagen’s project. The crowded marketplace has led to an overabundance of providers, all competing for a share of the market in pilot projects such as the Danish Outdoor Lighting Lab which has drawn 25 companies to the Danish suburb of Albertslund. Industry experts believe this aggressive competition will not last long, with producers developing comprehensive infrastructure solutions which will connect the elements across a city, increasing the potential for greater efficient and reduced expenses.

    Source: NY Times article 

  • A recently completed study by the Dutch sustainability research center Telos, with the support of the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (The Hague), found Northern European cities ranked highest in terms of sustainability, with Espoo, Finland rising to the top of the pack.

    The study assessed a total of 145 European cities according to a broad definition of sustainability which included economic and social aspects alongside the ecological, totaling in 86 indicators. Telos believes the findings are a useful tool for EU cities aiming to improve their own sustainability. The report provides a clear indication of the factors determining sustainability while a supplementary web tool offers a simple method for cities to compare their own status with those of other European cities.

    This analysis and the associated comparison tool support European cities in their efforts to achieve the ambitious climate reduction targets set out in the Paris accords.

    Read the full study and see the comparison tool in action.

  • At the ‘New Trends in Mobility’ conference held by the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) on the 28th and 29th of April, 2016, 150 international experts gathered to discuss the future of mobility in today’s sustainability mandated urban areas. Representing a passionate group of stakeholders in public and other sustainable modes of transport, the UITP conferences attendees offer a representative snapshot of the industry’s mood and its expectations for the future development of sustainable mobility.

    These issues become increasingly central as European cities explore multi-modal solutions to urban mobility with the rising tide of investments and efforts being directed towards establishing Mobility as a Service systems. Representing a global perspective on the evolution of transportation patterns, with members from 92 countries across the globe, the attendees of the ‘New Trends in Mobility’ conference, held at The Hague, concluded that public forms of transportation would continue to hold sway amongst the influx of new mobility trends and solutions. This consensus provides sound support for the continued development of mass-transit systems alongside the evolution of new models. Noting that increasing innovation and entrepreneurial drive will be crucial in ensuring that they remain comprehensive, accessible, and a vital backbone in the transportation infrastructure of all modern urban cities.

    The attendees also cited the crucial role which mass-transit systems play in new forms of multi-modality and underscored the need to keep these traditional networks in mind in the development of new solutions. Additionally noting the ways in which new forms of multi-modality can further increase ease of access and fluidity of transition between public transportation and other forms of transit.

    Read more about the conference’s conclusions as the UITP’s website 

  • Providing a strong start for the road forward, 21 European countries have already established national policies for adapting to climate change, according to a survey by the European Environment Agency. Of the 30 European countries surveyed, more than three fourths of the respondents listed extreme weather events among the major factors in inciting climate change planning, the second most popular reason cited was a response to European Union policies.

    While many of the countries reported a lack of resources such as time, money, or technologies as impeding progress, commitment remains very high as these governments have recognized the need for adapting to climate change and are highly motivated to continue this development. A total of 13 countries have already begun to implement concrete adaptation policies, moving beyond the planning stage and into action.

    This strong commitment among European nations signals a positive commitment to fixing concrete adaptation policies that will support the drive to establish increasingly binding, global commitments in the years to come.

    Read the survey results in full at the European Environment Agency’s website 

  • A new report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA), The European Environment – State and Outlook 2015(SOER 2015),provides an interesting perspective on the state of the European Union’s environment and the success of the region and individual countries in progressing towards the climate goals set out for them in national and EU strategy for 2020, 2030, and beyond. The report is based on environmental information and data sourced from the European Environment Information and Observation Network, a network of 39 countries.

    The SOER 2015 report is divided into three categories, a synthesis repot which assess the European environment from a global perspective as well as the prevailing trends and the state of the environment in Europe, an assessment of 11 global megatrends and their relevance for Europe, and a series of briefings on all 39 individual countries and regions in the area. The synthesis report aims to support the implementation of the European environmental policy from 2015 on, helping to increase the efficiency of these efforts in the lead up to 2020.

    Building on the results of an assessment of the prevailing environmental trends in Europe, the report reaches a conclusion regarding the persistent, systemic challenges facing European countries as they strive to mitigate the effects of climate change. The trends assessed in the report are divided into three categories: Protecting, conserving, and enhancing natural capital; Resource efficiency and the low-carbon economy; and Safeguarding from environmental risks to health.

    The report concludes that, despite some of the positive progress made on the level of individual trends, the outlook is not altogether promising:

    “In summary, the systemic and transboundary nature of many long-term environmental challenges are significant obstacles to achieving the EU's 2050 vision of living well within the limits of the planet. Europe's success in responding to these challenges will depend greatly on how effectively it implements existing environmental policies and takes necessary additional steps to formulate integrated approaches to today's environmental and health challenges.”

    The country assessments included in the report provide a perspective on the role which regional policies and efforts in the larger context of the findings of the Europe-wide report while a series of thematic comparison reports compare the various countries’ environments to each other and illuminate the successes and prospects within each category.

    Read the SOER 2015 report at the EEA’s website 

  • The 2014 Eurocities conference, held in Munich from November 5-8, highlighted Tampere’s ITS Factory among the leading examples of public – private sector cooperation in European cities. Finishing third in the conference’s Coopreation theme, the ITS Factory was selected by a panel of five independent jury members representing the host city, academia, EU institutions, media, and the third sector.

    The ITS Factory is an innovation, experimentation, and development environment operated in cooperation by the city of Tampere and companies from relevant sectors. ITS Factory offers the tools developers need to create new services, including reliable, standard transport data, and crucially, it offers Tampere’s traffic and road network as a testbed for new solutions. ITS Factory brings together a community of likeminded stakeholders, whose services are currently being used by around 2,000 people a week.

    Read more about the conferenceand the ITS Factory 

Programs

Reframing City Districts (ReCiDi)

A research project conducted by the Universities of Turku and Tampere which aims to form a new conceptual framework which will help shape the collective identity and common vision necessary to realize the future low-carbon and sustainability targets.

Systemic Architectures for Sustainable Urban Innovation (SASUI)

An action learning and research project conducted by Aalto University and the University of Tampere which aimed to form a better understanding of the architectural requirements for successful innovation projects.