We asked CITyFiED about their winning project, and this is what they had to say:
Q: What does the term ‘smart city’ mean to you, and how does your project contribute to a larger smart city vision?
A: From my point of view, the term “smart city” delivers a simple concept, “a city for the citizens by the citizens”, which embodies not only its information technology infrastructure but also its capacity to engage the people, manage the information and resources to improve the quality of life of its citizens.
CITyFiED embraces such “smart city” concept and delivers clear messages to citizens, professionals and academic audiences about the benefits of the energy efficiency and information technology infrastructure in the city environment, not only regarding the energy issues related to buildings, but also addressing complementary issues such as the citizen engagement, business models and non-technological barriers, in order to modify the user behavior towards a more sustainable awareness.
Q: Why is the implementation of your project transformational in our current society?
A: CITyFiED has embraced the residents in a democratic process to take part and decide on the renovation actions. At the same time, the CITyFiED representatives have ensured that the retrofitting investments all made economic sense to the residents so they can benefit from them. In a truly cooperative approach, CITyFiED representatives and residents have carried out an extensive demonstration action from June 2014. All of the main economic and technological aspects in terms of building retrofitting, district heating system upgrade, integration of renewable energy sources and monitoring have been addressed by means of a systemic approach in order to achieve not only significant energy savings and very low CO2 emissions but also remarkable improvements in the residents’ comfort conditions.
Energy efficiency is taking its place as a major energy resource in CITyFiED cities to achieve sustainability and growth targets. Indeed CITyFiED investment, more than 46 M€, has provided many different benefits to citizens and other local stakeholders. Whether by directly reducing energy consumption and associated costs, which can enable investment in other goods and services, or facilitating the achievement of other objectives, e.g. making indoor environments healthier or boosting industrial productivity
Citizens, as main users of the city environment, have clear benefits in their daily: raising the economic activity in their cities, which has led to a reduction of unemployment with more than 70 new jobs created in the CITyFiED context, enhancement of their environment and quality of life, and also to be on board for the transition to the concept of smart city of the future, with more comfort at city level and more technology at the service of the citizen. Even utilities and other energy providers benefit in a variety of ways from CITyFiED energy efficiency measures. Direct benefits include lower costs for energy generation, transmission and distribution, improved system reliability, dampened price volatility in wholesale markets and the possibility of delaying or deferring costly system upgrades.
Q: What advice did you receive along the way that helped you complete your winning project?
A: Listen to the people and put the means so the rest of the partners can deliver their commitments. This gives to me the opportunity to understand other people’s viewpoints and widen my own, so I can provide partners with the right environment for a truly and enjoyable collaboration towards the goals of our project. True collaboration can only happen when consortium partners feel comfortable and safe expressing their ideas and concerns. To have this, there must be trust among partners.
Q: What advice would you give a city community or a solution provider looking to implement a municipal-level project?
A: From my point of view, embracing citizens in a democratic process to take part and decide on the renovation actions is the most important aspect in a city-level project. A key feature of a smart city project is about engaging ordinary people to participate in the life of the city, through new technologies, so they can be part in the decision-making and shared learning. Citizen engagement, through dialogue and discussion is central to any municipal-level project. Another important aspect is about understanding the city, how it functions on a day-to-day basis and what its needs are, so a tailored city-level project can be delivered.
Q: What does it mean to you to win the Smart 50 Awards?
A: CITyFiED is honored to be recognized as a leading international example of “innovative and influential” work in urban transformation by a panel of global city leaders. The Smart 50 Awards recognizes the outstanding performance and hard work delivered by the whole CITyFiED team towards the sustainable development of cities. Wining the award lends even more credibility to the technical solutions and methodology driving district renovation as part of CITyFiED and contributes to spread our results beyond EU borders.