Vitoria-Gasteiz – Getting the green capital even greener


Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capital of the Basque Country, and with 240,000 inhabitants a Europe-leading municipality investing in green economy. The city, which was the European Green Capital in 2012, has a high proportion of green public areas, ensuring that the entire population lives within a 300m distance from an open green space. Numerous tangible measures are in place to assist and increase biodiversity and ecosystems services.

The city also has a clear strategy to become greener, promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy, low carbon mobility and smart infrastructures. Vitoria-Gasteiz is committed to becoming smarter, using modern technologies to improve the quality of life of the citizens. They are at the core of the smart city concept, as it is not possible to become smarter without engaging the citizens in the decision making. They play therefore a key role in the definition of strategies covering ICTs, mobility, energy and urban environment, working together with public bodies, the private sector and research agents.

In SmartEnCity, Vitoria-Gasteiz seeks to

  • Demonstrate Building Retrofitting: 750 dwellings (60,000m2) in the Coronation district will be insulated, and their energy systems replaced with a connection to the district heating.
  • Integrated Infrastructures: A new biomass (wood chips) district heating network will be deployed, and integrated energy management systems will optimise efficiency at home, building and district level.
  • Sustainable Mobility: 100% Electric Busline (Smart Electric Bus) with 13 high-capacity e-buses as a replacement for conventional diesel buses, plus acquisition of EVs, charging points and shared e-bike station for Vitoria-Gasteiz' city council.
  • ICTs: An Urban Management System (UMS) will be developed and deployed.

Renewable energy in the city

Vitoria-Gasteiz, as the rest of the Basque Country, relies almost completely (more than 90%) on the import of fossil fuels both for direct use (natural gas, petroleum products) and for electricity generation. A natural gas network is available throughout the city, and is widely used in industry, residential and service sectors. Cogeneration units are installed in a few public buildings such as hospitals, and to a minor scale in some residential buildings. Petroleum products are the main fuel for transport. Biomass fuel is used in some public buildings and swimming pools, but its use remains very low in percentage.

Vitoria-Gasteiz aims to reduce its energy consumption by rationalizing energy use and promoting the use of more efficient technologies such as district heating and micro-cogeneration, as well as greater energy efficiency in new and refurbished buildings. At the same time, the city aims to promote renewable energy sources such as solar power, geothermal systems, wind farms and biogas from urban waste. In line with these objectives, the city council adopted a Climate Change Prevention Strategy in 2006, and agreed to cut emissions by 16% by 2012. In 2009, it signed up to the Covenant of Mayors and in 2010, approved the Plan against Climate Change, promising more ambitious reductions. The city’s long-term objective is to become a carbon-neutral zone, with an interim goal of cutting emissions by half by 2050, through wide-ranging actions in different sectors and public education.

Main project results in Vitoria-Gasteiz:

                                                                Table: Vitoria-Gasteiz impacts at city level.                                                                                 

Energy Efficiency/Retrofitting:

  • General Satisfaction of the residents
  • Retrofitting of 302 dwellings (corresponding to 26 buildings) and connected to the district heating, to which 3 tertiary buildings are also connected nowadays (3 tertiary buildings equivalents to 386 extra dwellings).
  • Aesthetic improvement of the neighbourhood and increased property values.
  • Improvement in comfort in the dwellings: fewer temperature changes and less overheating in summer.
  • Efficient use of rehabilitated dwellings by informed residents with better controlling capability thanks to the installed monitoring systems.
  • Total substitution of gas by renewable energy sources for domestic hot water and heating: local biomass. Lower CO2 print.
  • The share of renewable energy has reached an average value of 69% of renewables is obtained thanks to the new district heating network and the use of biomass.
  • The thermal energy consumption is decreasing from 57.99 kWH/m²year in 2016 to 30.48 kkWH/m²year in 2022 (1st sem.) and the CO2 emissions, the value of CO2 equivalent total (gas+biomass, for buildings) during the first semester of 2022 is less than a half than the values for the rest of the years.
  • Energy certification A in all the rehabilitated properties leading into a real state tax reduction (50%)


  • 13 electric busses 5 electric vehicles and 6 e-Bikes are now circulating, saving 210 585.69 equivalent Kg CO2 so far along the project life.
  • The circular bus-line with the highest number of passengers in the city has been tranferred into a modern and clean electric bus rapid transit line BEI - “Bus Eléctrico Inteligente” – Smart Electric Bus, with the following impact:

                                          Table: KPI values concerning the Smart Electric Bus (BEI) in Vitoria-Gasteiz

  • The table below demonstrates the performace of the six shared e-bikes and the kg CO2 emissions avoided:

                                                       Table: Indicataors for the e-bike sharing station


Vitoria-Gasteiz’s smart city portal (CIOP) is shaped by 9 added value services developed by different partners collaborating. 2741 HEMS are connected to the municipal buildings’ energy usage monitoring tool, and 855 connected to the app about comfort conditions, the installation and management support tool and the ESCOs app. Besides, 1946 BEMS are connected to the municipal energy usage tool, and 300 to the other three tools.

Other Project benefits:

  • Discounts awarded by: Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council: 50% discount on property tax for households with Energy Certification A and ICIO (construction works tax).
  • Provincial Council of Alava: fiscal ruling that ensures the compatibility of the European grants with standard grants.
  • Exclusion in the income tax calculation of any grants or subsidies received by the homeowners.
  • Mirror effect for other neighbourhoods
  • Improvement of public areas.
  • Fostering local employment: 14 architectural firms and 5 building companies
  • Dozens of SMES (scaffolding and construction materials, energy certification, termographies, professional    photographers, notaries, property management companies, etc.

Lessons Learned:

  • Empowered citizens, efficient dwelling!
  • District actuation, city effect!

For more details on the intervations, click here: Smart City Solutions in Vitoria-Gasteiz