Climate neutral districts to capture 31 million from Europe

Valencia aspires to make three of its districts climate neutral in 2030. This project, budgeted at 31 million euros, has resulted in an expression of interest presented by the City Council to the Government of Spain to opt to receive European funds of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan.

Climate neutral districts are areas of the city that achieve a high degree of energy self-sufficiency and zero net emissions of global warming, an objective that is intended to be achieved not only at an energy and environmental level, but also socially and economically, through six axes: one-stop shop for proximity, energy rehabilitation, renewable energy, renaturation, sustainable mobility and digitization.

According to the document prepared by the Consistory, the project offers opportunities as an important saving of emissions and energy, the creation of community awareness and transversality, but also raises difficulties, such as the limited action in areas consolidated by the existing infrastructure, the complexity and size of the project, which makes its execution difficult in the short term, and the existence of “excessively complex” administrative procedures.

Regarding its justification, it focuses energy “as a right” and from a viewpoint of citizen “empowerment” to get involved in issues that have to do with the environmental sustainability of their immediate surroundings. “The simple rehabilitation of buildings in the city would not be a transformative project, but to renew the park of buildings, while acting on mobility, green areas, collective energy production, open data management or the economy circular, generating a change in the energy culture of citizens and promoting their active participation in solutions, has a multiplying transforming capacity “, affirm the editors of the project.

Climate-neutral districts have gained special relevance from the definition of the European Mission Climate-neutral and smart cities – 100 climate-neutral cities by 2030: by and for citizens. This Mission seeks to achieve 100 cities approaching climate neutrality by 2030 And, for this, it urges them to work in one or more districts where they can achieve this emission neutrality.

Roadmap

2021. In its beginnings, the Valencia project proposes, among other initiatives, outreach campaigns, promotion of self-consumption, energy communities, tax incentives, elimination of obstacles, massive electrification of consumption in buildings and public-private collaboration.

2023. At this point, he advocates moving towards a more flexible energy model, developing a municipal ordinance that prohibits the use of residential natural gas / butane, massive rehabilitation of buildings and installation of renewable energy and green roofs.

2027. For the final phase, the creation of a public energy trading company, solutions inspired by nature and a proprietary business model based on the energy transition are contemplated.

Recipients

Citizenship. The project will benefit, on the one hand, the people, households and entities most motivated to promote the energy transition and, on the other, the most needy sectors that suffer from energy poverty.

Selection of districts. The process will follow three steps: define and prioritize the objectives to be achieved, identify and assess the selection criteria (income, population density, energy demand) and develop a model to choose the three districts based on all the available information. .

One of the proposals goes through green axes such as the Benimàmet Linear Park.

Lines of action

Neighborhood Energy Offices. Three municipal premises will be rehabilitated, one in each selected district, to act as a connection point with the neighbors and centralize all the information on the interventions. In this way, they will act as one-stop shops to accompany and advise citizens from proximity, thus ensuring that they participate in transformations and projects. The budget for this point is 450,000 euros (150,000 per office).

Energy rehabilitation. The energy renovation of 600 homes and 6,000 square meters of tertiary buildings will be promoted, through the advice and support of the Energy Offices, in addition to incentive plans and financial aid. The public budget is 7.97 million euros (2.25 million for the Offices and 4.72 million in aid and subsidies, plus 1 million for renovation of lighting).

Renewable generation. 4 MW of solar energy installations will be executed in public spaces and buildings, with a demonstrative and exemplary nature. In addition, 600 kW of private installations will be promoted, especially through neighborhood energy communities (CEB) that allow citizens to associate and share energy resources. The public budget is 5.95 million euros (5 million in public roof installations; 400,000 euros in revitalization of CEB and 550,000 euros in tax credits

Renaturation. With a budget of 3.5 million, it has several lines: strategic design of green areas and axes, with neighborhood participation; construction and rehabilitation of parks and green axes; execution and maintenance of biodiversity micro-spaces … The project presented by the Valencia City Council aims to enhance the role of urban green areas as carbon sinks through the renaturation of the districts. With this, it also seeks to “improve the quality of life and health of citizens, recover leisure and socialization spaces, increase the urban garden area and guarantee the preservation of biodiversity”.

The budget for this section will be divided into the construction and design of green axes (3 million) and maintenance work and public awareness (500,000 euros). The initiative also underlines in this area neighborhood participation when designing green areas, and the importance of the generalization of urban gardens and renaturalized itineraries.

Urban gardens are also included in the project.  In the image, those of the Malilla Park.
Urban gardens are included in the project. In the image, those of the Malilla Park.

Sustainable mobility. The use of sustainable and low-carbon modes of transport will be promoted, such as non-motorized transport, public transport, light vehicles and electric vehicles. 12 public fast charging points and 60 slow charging points will be deployed, in addition to promoting up to 400 private points in buildings. Districts will pioneer Valencia of 15 minutes, with the aim of offering the neighborhoods all their essential services in less than 15 minutes on foot. The public budget amounts to 4.47 million euros (2.25 million for urban superblocks; 1.5 million for bike lanes and 720,000 euros for recharging electric vehicles.

Digitization. Smart city tools will be deployed that sensorize and interconnect the infrastructure and the building stock of the districts, offering information and open data useful to the five innovation propellants. This digitization seeks to fully exploit the existing synergies between the different actions: mobility, renewables, rehabilitation, participation, green areas …

Ribó: “In the vanguard against climate change”

The mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribó, affirms that the city “must be at the forefront of the fight against climate change”, a responsibility that he considers “unavoidable for younger generations”, but also an “opportunity” to achieve greener and healthier cities “where you live better.” For this reason, the desire to channel European funds stands out Next Generation EU in this direction. “Our goal is to be one of the 100 climate-neutral European cities by 2030, according to the terms established by the European Commission,” he adds. In this sense, developing neutral districts “would have an extraordinary demonstrative potential in the face of a later scaling up to the whole city,” he explains.

For his part, the Councilor for Energy Transition, Alejandro Ramon, puts the focus on the “social aspect”. In his opinion, “ambitious” and comprehensive plans are needed that go beyond housing and building. In addition, at an economic level, it can serve to attract private, academic or civil society initiative towards employment and the green economy, so that it aspires to become “the first economic sector of the city in 2040”.

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