European Commissioner Announces Plans For 'Smart Cities'

Posted on 10/12/2010
During a recent event in Brussels (Belgium) to take stock of progress made through the European CONCERTO initiative, the European Commissioner for Energy, Günther Oettinger, congratulated currently engaged CONCERTO cities for their efforts, and spoke of the central role they will play in the “new generation ‘Smarts Cities’ initiative”.

“What we want to do in the future is avoid carbon dioxide emissions to a maximum and move towards carbon neutral cities” stated Dr. Brigitte Bach, Head of Energy Department from the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), at the CONCERTO forum in Brussels.

Bach outlined some of the main results of the CONCERTO initiative which included “137,000 tonnes carbon dioxide emission avoided”, and “1,150,000 square metres of newly renovated and eco-buildings”. “What is important”, she highlighted “is that cities take an integrated approach to urban planning” and encompass measures including renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, poly-generation, research, monitoring, and training. “These”, she stressed, “have been fundamental in the CONCERTO initiative, but it would not be complete without stakeholder involvement”.

50% reduction in energy demand

The CONCERTO Final Forum drew on the five years of sustainable energy policy and action experience at city level. Cities were keen to outline their respective challenges, lessons learnt, and visions for the new ‘Smart Cities’ initiative. The city representatives of Nantes (France), Weilerbach (Germany), Budapest (Hungary), Lyon (France), Hannover (Germany) and Torino (Italy) outlined how CONCERTO impacted upon them and how they have impacted Europe. Pascale Chiron, Vice-President of Nantes-Metropole labelled the experience of CONCERTO as the “big adventure” having been involved since 2006, seeing 80,000 square metres of office and residential eco-buildings constructed, with a cut of up to 50 % in primary energy consumption.

Other speakers noted how measures introduced in CONCERTO have had an influence on the national level - “CONCERTO experts helped change legislation on the national level” said the city representative from Lyon. All cities highlighted the fact that involving residents in any refurbishment or construction projects is essential.

The European Commissioner for Energy congratulated all those cities involved in CONCERTO and explained that their experience would play a pivotal role in developing a “new generation ‘Smarts Cities’ initiative”.

“Energy efficiency is a European matter”, stated Oettinger. The instruments to achieve this must be used “locally”, he stressed. In commending the cities’ outstanding efforts, he underlined how they have “encouraged others to go down the same path towards sustainability” and how they are moving towards being smart cities.

Commencing in 2005, the CONCERTO Initiative aims to empower governments to implement concrete strategies and actions which lead to sustainable and highly efficient energy outcomes. The CONCERTO Final Forum was an opportunity for participating cities to share their challenges, advice and results, encouraging city planners to undertake similar measures in their cities. The initiative is a ‘test laboratory’ for new technologies and sustainable policies. This endeavour involves 58 cities, with a population of 5 million people, who undertake activities ranging from constructing eco-buildings, and refurbishing existing building stock to implementing renewable technologies on to the energy grid.