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Cities switched on to the energy and environment challenge

Municipalities, energy agencies and technical experts met in Udine, Italy to learn from one another face-to-face and channel the knowledge generated by the CITyFiED project. 

How can we make Europe’s building stock and districts more energy efficient, more comfortable and less costly? These are just some of the issues debated by nearly 40 participants at CITyFiED’s latest study tour and workshop. Inspired by the vision and ambition of the event host, Udine, delegates exchanged with the project consortium on three technical pillars: building and retrofitting; district heating and cooling; and smart grids; as well as work on business models and financing.

For some members of the CITyFiED Community of Interest, this is beginning of a smart journey, whilst for others the project helps unlock answers to a well-known central issue. According to Mr. Dimitris Karalis, deputy mayor for local economic development of Chios, Greece, CITyFiED gives a basis for strategic decision making and future plans. After having worked on efficient city lighting, this small island town is planning a district-level programme of deep renovation. Learning in person about technical solutions, how to organize and finance such works is vital, especially as a smaller municipality with limited resources. As General Manager of the public district heating company in Cacak, Serbia, Dr Peter Domanivic serves a large number of households and was particularly keen on experiences in heat recovery technology deployment and performance – a focus priority for the city and surrounding areas.

The visit to Udine demonstration site, the “Aurora District”, was particularly productive for Rene Tonnisson from Tartu in Estonia, who could draw many parallels in the site dimensions and works needed. For their strategy of   deep renovation and renewal, CITyFiED is an excellent source for ideas and experience.  Tartu is also now a lighthouse city in the latest wave of European smart city projects with SmartENcity and learning how to fine-tune their replication actions by witnessing the CITyFiED community first hand. 

Delegates visit the “Via Volpe” mini-hydro plant, one of 9 mini-hydro plants along Udine’s urban water streams.
It uses a 2,6 m waterfall to produce electricity of 750 – 800 MWh per year. 

According to coordinator, Ali Vasallo Belver of CARTIF, the project objective is to “Help cities get smarter, faster; using the tangible work of demonstration and cluster cities to be a saver of risk, costs and time for everyone connected to the project”.

“We need to understand and support exploitation and business models from a local authority point of view, going beyond energy efficiency alone. That means providing cost-effective methodologies, better business models, actions to reduce energy demand and even looking at social acceptance and citizen engagement”, he continued. 

With 49 cities working with CITyFiED and keen to learn from the project’s outputs and experiences growing, the basis for quality content and confident replication is well under way. Study tours and accompanying workshops such as this one in Udine are a vital tool for the group to share technical insight and exchange experiences. 

The Aurora district (Udine’s CITyFiED demo site): A 0,75 square km social housing estate in Udine’s eastern urban area. Built during the ‘70s and ‘80s, it was refurbished in recent years implementing energy saving principles. Today, next generation smart grid measures are being planned to improve energy autonomy and reduce consumption. 

Further reading:

CITy Voices: interview with Udine Mayor Furio Honsell
Twitter: @cityfied_eu