Smart Cities and Communities and Energy Efficiency

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smart cities
by Felice Lucia

Within the process of change outlined by 20-20-20 Package, cities play a crucial role. In fact, since urban areas account for approximately 75 % of global energy consumption and 80% of global CO2 emissions , and as the level of urbanization continues to grow, the promotion of intelligent and energy efficient urban centers represents an essential contribution to sustainable growth.

Environmental issues, climate change and energy sustainability are important drivers related to the renewal of the city. Nevertheless, you have to keep in mind that improving air quality , reducing traffic congestion, health, well-being and social inclusion are the most tangible and direct benefits of "green policy" for citizens who make up the urban community. In fact, the city should not just be an " economic engine ", but it must also ensure all the essential elements to a good quality of life.

In this scenario, the European Commission, through the inclusion of the "Smart Cities"  initiative in the SET-Plan, which aimes to create the conditions to trigger the mass adoption of technologies for energy efficiency towards a low -carbon economy, reinforced the centrality of Smart City and, more generally, Smart Community concepts as projects aimed at improving the quality of citizens' life through the application, in urban / metropolitan areas, of smart technological solutions for sustainable development . This position is also consistent with the broader European and global strategic programs that consider energy sustainability and reduction of the carbon footprint as primary goals. On the other hand, the key themes of the Horizon 2020 strategic plan draw attention to the wide range of social challenges inherent in health and wellness, energy efficiency , transport and sustainable mobility, environmental sustainability and social inclusion, with which the development of smart cities and smart communities will have to measure.

It should also be noted that the Smart City concept and the Smart Community concept are commonly associated, in a variation that shows the close correlation between the size of the city and the physical infrastructure that govern its operation with that of the communities, the individuals and the social groups that live there. This association becomes very evident when you connect energy efficiency , environmental sustainability and quality of life.

The Technology Cluster for Smart Communities , which aims to use technology and innovation of various fields of application for the development of a new system of advanced relationship for the community, interprets the " Smart Communities " as a place / territorial context in which , thanks to the support and implementation of pervasive technologies and the development of advanced application solutions, you can implement innovative, inclusive, participatory , democratic and customizable processes and services, in response to modern social and technological challenges in different areas of interest ( such as mobility , health, education , culture and tourism , energy networks , energy efficiency), in compliance with the requirements of environmental, social and economic needs and recognizing the centrality of the individual and of the community.

In response to the social challenges related to improving the energy and environmental performance of urban areas, which constitute one of the major consumers of energy as well as areas that are  substantially subject to the effects of pollution, attention is on actions supporting the rational use of resources on the part of businesses, citizens and public administrations, at the level of individual building , district or neighborhood , through systems of measurement, monitoring and management of consumption of any energy source (eg , electricity, water , gas), as well as new patterns of interaction and saving awareness of end users and energy demand operators . The impacts of these solutions on the community may fall into the public sphere (eg, street lighting) , in the private sphere (eg, residential buildings ) and / or in the employment / recreation sphere (eg, offices , spas , shops ). A key role is also played by activities directed to the development of new models of planning and optimizing the use of energy from traditional sources and / or renewable, which could integrate with the other elements of the urban ecosystem (eg, transport , management of water , waste disposal ) and could be processed according to the needs and resources of cities and communities , through detection systems and modeling of consumption profiles, analysis and forecasting of energy demand , as well as measurement and monitoring of energy production .

In line with the percentage of total annual energy consumption due to the consumption of buildings and as part of the Italian regulatory framework in relation to energy efficiency, the theoretical potential savings from building efficiency measures is about 120 billion,  20 - 25 billion of which comes from residential buildings.

Finally, you have to consider the importance, for the Smart Cities, to adopt a system of indicators aimed at measuring the impact of strategic actions for a smart development of the city and at representing its changes, compared to itself and to other urban areas. This element is the key issue on which discussions in the national and international working groups should focus. In relation to the issues of energy efficiency in the field of Smart Cities, the leading indicators, which are recognized in the context of local, national and European strategic planning and are consequent to a consolidated process of reflection and planning, are mainly attributable to the level of energy consumption (electricity and heat), to the production from renewable energy sources and to the level of pollutant emissions.

source: ENEA, "RAPPORTO ANNUALE EFFICIENZA ENERGETICA 2012", dicembre 2013

Comments

Energy Efficiency is a prime thing

Very informative post.

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