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Interview with Furio Honsell, Mayor of UDINE, Italy

Why did Udine choose to participate in the CITyFiED project, and how does it fit in with your energy and environment strategy?

Udine has signed the European “20-20-20” commitments of Covenant of Mayors on energy efficiency and finalized our Sustainable Energy Action Plan in 2009. Since then we are actively engaged in achieving the target a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, from a 2006 baseline value of 700.000 tons.

For these reasons we are taking all possible opportunities to improve our efficiency and reduce unnecessary emissions. The CITyFiED network offers the opportunity to gather information from demonstration projects and fosters the establishment of a collaboration network among different European actors. The project will provide us with a feasibility study for one of the most populated social housing districts of Udine, the Aurora District, which we are considering to enhance from the energy efficiency point of view together with the managing authority, ATER.


What smart city measure or energy solutions would you like to share with the CITyFiED community?

The building regulation we enforced in 2010 with explicit and compulsory energy performance standards for new buildings, namely Klimahaus B, is clear-cut political decision Udine can be proud to share. I believe that incentives are not enough and such a regulation, which focuses on the intrinsic quality of buildings, is essential.

Another important achievement in Udine was a large cogeneration system, which provides district heating (about 13 km of network) to a large number of public buildings, university, schools, apartments buildings, across the Northern part of the city. A trigeneration plant, located in the city hospital compound, generates 40MW of energy. This is an important project because it is based on a multilevel action among the municipal partners, university and health system stakeholders.


Name a challenge you think fellow cities and project consortium members could help you overcome…

There are many challenges that still need to be properly addressed. The first I would like to mention is the issue of retrofitting historical buildings. Udine, as many cities in Europe, can boast a number of architectural treasures in its urban centre. Many of these buildings are still in use, but are severely inefficient and very hostile as far as energy consumptions. They have many restrictions, which are enforced by Cultural Heritage Authority, which prevent from making any significant intervention within the building, even replacing window frames. We have made some feasibility studies and tests, which need to be properly assessed, like the regeneration of the city slaughterhouse area. These interventions face particular challenges to refurbish an historical building complex, trying to make it efficient from an energy and a sustainability point of view.

Another issue has to do with mobility. Udine is the main city of a larger metropolitan area with considerable urban sprawl and public transport is extremely costly, if organized using traditional strategies.

It could be interesting to experiment new ideas for reducing private vehicles in sparsely populated areas, as a way of reducing emissions too.


Udine's most ambitious smart city or energy efficiency target? 

Our target is achieving the 20-20-20 Covenant of Mayors commitments and the new targets beyond 2020. We are also very engaged in addressing the environmental challenges that climate change is causing to our community and we support the new integrated “Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy”, with a joint approach to tackling mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

In 2013, we already achieved the 20% goal of emissions reduction (compared to a 2006 baseline) referring to the local city administration premises.

The challenge to achieve the global target of 20% reduction of CO2 emissions over the whole territory remains open. We are working together with public and private bodies across the city, to promote an extensive action of involvement of local stakeholders in a shared and coordinated vision. Udine is also very engaged in social and demographic issues. We are trying to make Udine an age friendly city, by improving the well-being of elderly people, which is a considerable part of population. We are providing, as well, significant support in the migrants and asylum seekers crisis that Europe is currently facing.


19 February 2016