From dream to reality: sharing experiences from leading European Smart Cities

Tue 8, October 2019
14:30 - 17:00 CET

The European Lighthouse programme gathers an unprecedented number of cities in driving the smart and sustainable city movement in Europe and beyond. These cities and their private and academic partners worked on implementing a series of interlinked smart solutions in the field of energy, ICT and mobility. The first three projects of this programme: GrowSmarter, Remourban and Triangulum are now coming to an end and will share the results of their implementation models on this occasion.

Key challenges for Smart and Sustainable Cities are to provide solutions to significantly increase cities’ overall energy and resource efficiency, resulting in a better quality of life for their citizens, higher competitiveness, new job opportunities and economic growth.

By organising a session in the context of the European Week of Cities and Regions, the three projects will show the impacts achieved in terms of energy efficiency, smart mobility, ICT interconnectivity, governance and social acceptance and will provide policy makers and experts with valuable insights for replication in other European cities and regions.

Gustaf Landahl, Project Coordinator, GrowSmarter, City of Stockholm, Sweden.
Emilio Mitre, Director of International Relations, Green Building Council Spain, Spain.
Gonzalo Cabezas, Site Manager Barcelona, GrowSmarter, City of Barcelona, Spain.
Mark Duncan, Lead Officer, Manchester, Triangulum, City of Manchester, United Kingdom.
Julia Egenolf, Site Manager Cologne, GrowSmarter, City of Cologne, Germany.
Lisa Enarsson, Project Manager GrowSmarter, City of Stockholm, Sweden.
Trinidad Fernandez, Triangulum Project Coordinator, Fraunhofer IAO, Germany.
Miguel García, Project Coordinator, Remourban, CARTIF Technology Center, Spain.
Déborah Géradon, Councillor in Charge of Territorial and Commercial Development, City of Seraing, Belgium.
Ralf Heinen, Vice Mayor, City of Cologne, Germany.
Rosa Huertas, Site Manager Valladolid, Remourban, City of Valladolid, Spain.
Gustaf Landahl, Project Coordinator, GrowSmarter, City of Stockholm, Sweden.
Katarina Luhr, Vice Mayor for Environment and Climate, City of Stockholm, Sweden.
Delia Mitcan, Site Manager Eindhoven, Triangulum, Gemeente Eindhoven, Netherlands.
Emilio Mitre, Director of International Relations, Green Building Council Spain, Spain.
Gerd Seehuus, Site Manager Stavanger, Triangulum, City of Stavanger, Norway.
Stijn Steenbakkers, Alderman for Digital Transformation, City of Eindhoven, Netherlands.
Dave Tetlow, Site Manager Nottingham, Remourban, Nottingham City Homes, United Kingdom.
The Future of the EU and the roles of the Regions and Cities
Barcelona, City of Stockholm, Cologne, Manchester City , Seraing, Valladolid
English (EN), Español (ES), Français (FR)

Session summary

During the European Week of Regions and Cities, the first three Smart Cities and Communities projects GrowSmarter, Remourban and Triangulum, funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, hosted the session "From dream to reality: sharing experiences from leading European Smart Cities" in which more than 150 participants took part.

The goal of this joint session was to present major outcomes and to share lessons learnt from five years of smart city projects in different European regions, focusing on technical as well as political aspects of creating smart cities. 

"The European smart cities have come a long way since our projects started five years ago and we have gained a lot of experience. Remourban, Triangulum and GrowSmarter have worked through many of the 'do's and don'ts' of smart cities and gained an understanding of how policies can be changed to support the development of smart and sustainable cities and help meet local and European climate goals," says Gustaf Landahl, Project Coordinator of GrowSmarter. 

High level politicians from five of the Lighthouse Cities discussed what is needed at an EU level to facilitate successful replication in the future. The overall consensus of this panel was that European support is needed to help get local initiatives off the ground. 

The coordinators of all three projects demonstrated their main achievements in the areas of energy, mobility and ICT. Lisa Enarsson from the City of Stockholm (GrowSmarter), for example, exemplified that it is indeed possible to reduce energy consumption of a residential building from the 1960s by 80% by providing new insulation, four-glass windows as well as smart ventilation and wastewater systems. Miguel Ángel García Fuentes, Coordinator for Remourban, spoke about mobility and the work done by the City of Nottingham to implement the largest fleet of electric buses in Europe. 

Six site managers from the Lighthouse cities presented the biggest successes as well as the hardest failures from their individual demonstration sites. Amongst other achievements, Gerd Seehuus from the City of Stavanger (Triangulum) demonstrated the tremendous energy savings achieved through the development of a central energy plant based on 100% renewable energy that now heats (and cools!) three administrative buildings as well as the city's public swimming pool and could thus already save over 1000 tons of CO2 since its implementation in 2017. 

As a major outcome of this joint session by GrowSmarter, Remourban and Triangulum, the three projects collectively produced a policy paper to summarize the experiences and the knowledge gained within these five years of smart city implementations. The set of policy recommendations builds upon combined lessons learned to support other EU cities in their transition towards smart and sustainable cities and communities.

Take away message

The cities of the first three European Lighthouse projects have demonstrated exactly how much can be achieved in terms of CO2 savings, engagement of citizens and deployment of electric vehicles. The session presented a policy paper on what the EU and cities can learn from the projects in order to upscale and replicate smart solutions. The session made clear that demonstration projects are only the beginning - massive implementation must happen!

In order to keep moving forward in the right direction with cities working on smart city solutions, we need to keep the positive spirit alive to strive for new and innovative achievements, show success and spur people on. Getting people on board is half the deal. - Julia Egenolf, GrowSmarter

Concerning mobility cities have to move fast. The technology and urban mobility solutions are evolving so fast that cities have to keep moving to be updated with the market demands. - Gonzalo Cabezas, GrowSmarter

We have shown possiblities and challenges in making smart and sustainable city solutions mainstream. It is not core business to renovate buildings to the point of an 80% reduction of energy, but we need it to be, and that's why we need more European tools. - Lisa Enarsson, GrowSmarter

Sharing the main experiences that we have learned in the 3 projects, the main legacy we are leaving after that is all these recommendations that we have learned from the actions that we have implemented in the cities and how we have contributed to the sustainable development goals. - Miguel García, Remourban

We shared our reflections as first movers of this European Smart Cities and Communities action. Now we are heading in the right direction to make our cities more sustainable and livable, but we also need engaged citizens and committed politicians to make the transition possible. - Trinidad Fernandez, Triangulum

Our challenge is to transform an industrial city into a smart city with more green spaces, business opportunities and sustainable mobility. To turn these objectives into reality and replicate the good practices of Lighthouse cities, Seraing hopes for regulatory and financial support from the EU. - Déborah Géradon, City of Seraing

In our experience, software is more important than hardware. Software applications are designed and developed taking into account the real end-users’ needs and requirements. - Ralf Heinen, City of Cologne

Our challenge was to change the mindset of residents in the retrofitted district Fasa, Valladolid, from “Why us?” to “Why not us?”. We identified one of the weaknesses, which was not mentioned in the first Horizon 2020 SCC-01 call, to be absence of co-creation with the final users. - Rosa Huertas, Remourban

The European smart cities have come a long way since our projects started five years ago. We have worked through many of the 'do's and don'ts' and gained an understanding of how policies can change to support development of smart and sustainable cities. - Gustaf Landahl, GrowSmarter

GrowSmarter shows the importance of cities as drivers of innovation and leaders of partnerships that drives societal change. Local and regional authorities are key actors at different stages of the innovation process. Both when it comes to identifying opportunities and obstacles, and as test-beds for innovations. - Katarina Luhr, City ofStockholm

In Eindhoven, we renovated 50 social houses together with Woonbedrijf, our housing corporation partner that puts the owners into the driver's seat when it comes to energy efficient renovations. Overall, it is important to always re-evaluate one's own plans to check whether they still fit the present conditions. - Delia Mitcan, Triangulum

Retrofitting buildings that have an intensive use of energy is financially feasible. From here, the market should move on, and our goal as governments should be to enhance this market. Miquel Rodriguez Planas, City of Barcelona

Thanks to Triangulum, we were able to save around 2000 tons of CO2 since 2017 through the development of a central energy plant based on 100% renewable energy from the city sewer. The plant heats and cools three administrative buildings in Stavanger as well as the city's public swimming pool. Gerd Seehuus, Triangulum

When asked how to deal with the new environmental challenges that have arisen in the last years, everyone underlined the need to communicate and engage with people as a precondition for any urban transformation model. We really need to make people aware that climate change is an issue. Stijn Steenbakkers, City of Eindhoven

Never underestimate new challenges, which are regularly coming out when a retrofitting action is being implemented. The experience in Remourban was a continuous learning process. Dave Tetlow, Remourban

What was a remote dream, five years ago, it has now turned into reality, with three projects presenting together their results and creating together a critical mass of impacts. With 17 Lighthouse projects and more than 100 cities involved, the European Union is implementing the world’s biggest smart city project. Jens Bartholmes, DG Energy

In 2014 nobody thought these Smart City projects would go so far. The results and impacts shown today, together with the open challenges and lessons learnt, are a sign we are moving in the right direction. Torsten Klimke, DG Mobility and Transport