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Grand Plans with Vision for a Climate Neutral City


An interview with Nadja Riedel, head of the Leipzig city SPARCS consortium, and Annamaria Riemer, head of the Professionalizing Knowledge Transfer Processes unit at Fraunhofer IMW.

On 12 December 2015, 175 countries signed the Paris Accord, in which they committed themselves to reducing the global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius in order to limit the effects of climate change. Cities were among the key players at the Paris Summit.

In the SPARCS project, seven cities, including the city of Leipzig, are demonstrating in around 100 individual projects how individual buildings, blocks or districts can contribute to a sustainable and climate-neutral urban future with an intelligent energy system. They are using the methodological framework City Vision 2050, developed at Fraunhofer IMW by Annamaria Riemer, head of the Professionalizing Knowledge Transfer Processes unit, and Jörg Kosinski, a research fellow of the unit. The framework supports the cities in aligning their urban transformation and energy system transformation with the goal of climate neutrality in the long term. The methodology also supports other participating cities in the pilot development of their future visions.

In an interview, Nadja Riedel, head of the Leipzig SPARCS consortium in the Digital City Department of the City of Leipzig, and Annamaria Riemer explain what City Vision Leipzig 2050 is and how it helps to achieve the goal of a climate-neutral city.

Ms. Riemer, what exactly is so new and innovative about the development of a future vision?

Cities are facing major challenges - today more than ever. That's why tools are needed to help them develop ideas about a desirable future together, in a self-determined, local and long-term manner. City Vision 2050 offers a methodological framework, a toolbox that cities can use to develop their ideas.

What is new about it is that, until now, there has been no comprehensive set of tools to meet this requirement in Europe. Also special is that the long-term orientation (30 years into the future) of the future vision encourages those involved to think less about the question of how exactly the goal is to be achieved. Instead, the process allows - with a desirable vision of the future in mind – the consideration of completely new ideas that, from today's perspective, may not yet be feasible.

We are very pleased that we were able to conduct the pilot test with the City of Leipzig's Digital City Department, in order to gain valuable experience and develop it further for the benefit of the other six cities.

Ms. Riedel, how does the Digital City Department intend to achieve the ambitious goal of climate neutrality in Leipzig within the SPARCS project?

The SPARCS approach is to use digital solutions to create networks as a basis for a climate-neutral energy system. The SPARCS project is a pioneering project. It offers room for experimentation. The project opens up the possibility to try out individual solutions that otherwise might not be tested for several years or at all.

The implementation strategy in the SPARCS project is initially limited to smaller areas. If measures on a small scale turn out to be practicable and workable, they can be replicated on a larger scale. At best, we develop a blueprint with which, scaled to the city as a whole, we can achieve the desired climate neutrality.

In the SPARCS project, this only works in an interdisciplinary team of partners at the local level. The cooperation with e.g. the Leipzig public utilities and other companies in the project stimulates the search for new solutions, which ultimately creates synergies. The international exchange with Fellow Cities and Lighthouse Cities on a European level complements this learning process. We also benefit from close cooperation with Leipzig University in the field of energy modeling. These findings find practical application in the implementation.

Ms. Riedel, to what extent has the development of a future vision proven to be helpful for the project?

Drafting a picture of the future is a group task that is rather unusual for all participants. Within the framework of SPARCS, we devote ourselves to specific measures in order to be able to derive possible conclusions for future neighborhood planning. But especially with this implementation-oriented approach, group awareness of what we actually want to achieve and how things should play out in the distant future is not always fully given.

With the vision of the future from City Vision 2050, we took the time early on in the project to define the distant but most important goal for us in 2050 more precisely. This is helpful for the project and for the city, because we now have a clearer idea of how each individual SPARCS measure could fit into our vision of a climate-neutral Leipzig in 2050. For us, this is a positive contribution to the fact that we as a team can pursue the great project of climate neutrality in a more targeted manner.

We are building on this result. In our work at the district level, the vision of the future City Vision Leipzig 2050 can help us to make deductions and assumptions about what our common future might look like.

Ms. Riemer, how can other cities benefit from the methodological framework of City Vision 2050?

City Vision 2050 is a new development that is explicitly designed to be emulated in the participating cities of the SPARCS project. These cities will use the material and the provided consulting sessions to create their own City Vision 2050. They profit directly from the experiences made in Leipzig. Fraunhofer IMW also provides an adapted online version, which enables vision formation even under remote conditions.

The Story and its resources on the SPARCS website


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writes about SPARCS

VIDEO: SPARCS Lighthouse cities Espoo and Leipzig

The cornerstone of SPARCS is its cities. The two lighthouse cities: Espoo and Leipzig showcase how to face the challenge of creating necessary ecosystems and prove the feasibility to transform a city into a carbon neutral urban community. Both cities have built and developed socially and economically viable smart solutions to reduce CO2 emissions.

SPARCS produced a video through which you can find out more about the approaches, activities and goals in its Lighthouse Cities. 

Watch the video
VIDEO: SPARCS replication and Fellow cities

SPARCS aims to generate tailored and effective solutions replicable across and beyond Europe through its Fellow citiesMaiaKifissiaKladnoLviv, and Reykjavik

The Fellow cities will co-create locally adapted solutions, inspired by projects and achievements of the LHCs to foster urban transformation into carbon free spaces and positive energy districts. 

SPARCS produced a video through which you can find out more about the replication activities in its Fellow Cities.

Watch the video
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Read the Full Story on the SPARCS Website
CVUT successfully finished the first series of Positive Energy Districts workshops

The University Centre for Energy Efficient Buildings of the Czech Technical University in Prague (CVUT) organised the third expert workshop on the positive energy districts topic. It was the final in the first three-part series aimed at sharing specific experience in local energy project.

Read the Full Story on the SPARCS Website
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Kladno will be able to effectively manage energy consumption in its buildings, including schools, administration buildings, and even residential buildings in a single intelligent electronic system. It is a huge step forward in achieving digitalization of the data/information about our buildings and their effective management.

Read the Full Story on the SPARCS Website
Collaboration in the development of electrical infrastructure in Reykjavik

Veitur utilities, a subsituary of Reykjavík Energy, and Strætó, public buses in Reykjavik area, have signed a letter of intent in which the companies intend to join forces to ensure that the development of Veitur's electrical infrastructure takes into account the needs of Strætó and other environmentally friendly modes of transport. With this, the companies, which are both publicly owned, want to do their part to minimize the social cost of energy exchange in transport in Iceland. Transportation is the main objective of SPARCS in Reykjavík making the city carbon free as electricity production is already done in an environmental way. This is therefore an important step on our way to our SPARCS goal.

Read the Full Story on the SPARCS Website
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