Scientific Publications

Author(s):  Koldo Urrutia-Azcona 1,2,*, Merit Tatar 3, Patricia Molina-Costa 1 and Iván Flores-Abascal 2

1 TECNALIA, Basque Research and Technology Alliance (BRTA), Building Technologies Unit. Parque Tecnológico   de Vizcaya. Geldo street, Edif.700 - 48160 Derio, Spain
2 University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), ENEDI Research Group. Alda. Urquijo s/n, 48013 Bilbao, Spain
3 Institute of Baltic Studies, research think-tank, Lai 30, 51005 Tartu, Estonia
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

Title: Cities4ZERO: Overcoming Carbon Lock-in in Municipalities through Smart Urban Transformation Processes

Publishing Date: 28 April 2020

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How can local authorities effectively address the decarbonization of urban environments in the long run? How would their interests and expertise be aligned into an integrated approach towards decarbonization? This paper delves into how strategic processes can help to integrate diverse disciplines and stakeholders when facing urban decarbonization and presents Cities4ZERO, a step-by-step methodology for local authorities, able to guide them through the process of developing the most appropriate plans and projects for an effective urban transition; all from an integrated, participatory and cross-cutting planning approach. For the development of the Cities4ZERO methodology, plans, projects, and strategic processes from five European cities that are part of the Smart Cities and Communities European Commission program have been monitored for 4 years, in close collaboration with local authorities, analyzing ad-hoc local strategic approaches to determine key success factors and barriers to be considered from their transitioning experiences. The study indicates that an iterative strategic approach and a project-oriented vision, combined with a stable institutional commitment, are opening a window of opportunity for cities to achieve effective decarbonization.




Publishing Date: November 2019

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Abstract: Fossil fuels-based human activity over time has generated unacceptable local levels of air pollution and GHG emissions. One of main implications of this activity is Climate Change, which unforeseen consequences are already impacting at local and global scales.
This research is focused on defining an effective framework to shift that trend in the local level through the implementation of the Smart Zero Carbon City concept, which brings together the emerging Smart City paradigm and the 2030/2050 EU goals with the urgent need of decarbonizing our local environments.
In this case, the study applies the Smart Zero Carbon City concept and implementation method into 5 EU cities, focusing on the case of Sonderborg municipality (DK) to extract the Key Factors towards Smart Urban Decarbonization, which are applicable to other cities facing this ambitious transition.


Author(s): Rein Ahas, Veronika Mooses, Pilleriine Kamenjuk and Raimond Tamm

Title: Retrofitting Soviet-Era ApartmentBuildings with ‘Smart City’ Features: The H2020 SmartEnCity Project in Tartu, Estonia

Publishing Date: August 2019

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Abstract: The retrofitting and renewal of modern-era socialist housing estates is a prominent issue throughout the world. There are different political choices to deal with dilapidated socialist housing estates. The transformation of such estates in post-socialist cities has so far focused primarily on improving their physical conditions and increasing the energy efficiency building-by-building. However, an integrated and area-based regeneration approach would have greater potential to influence the entire neighbourhood, as well as the inhabitants’ environmental behaviour. The Smart City is a concept that can achieve environmental sustainability ambitions as well as large housing estate regeneration goals. This chapter describes the implementation of the Smart City concept to the renovation of a Soviet-era apartment buildings area, based on the example of the SmartEnCity project in Tartu, Estonia. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Author(s): David Drysdale, Brian Vad Mathiesen and Henrik Lund

Title: From Carbon Calculators to Energy System Analysis in Cities

Publishing Date: June 2019

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Abstract: Energy systems in cities need to be decarbonized and are becoming more integrated via energy sector coupling. Today, cities often use simple methods to assess their low carbon targets, e.g., carbon calculators, and these methods use annualized carbon reduction potentials. For example, reductions from heat savings in buildings or fuel demand in transport. This is done because it is simple and fast. This paper describes a methodology that goes beyond carbon calculators and assesses highly renewable energy systems. The methodology is carried out for a case city—Sønderborg, Denmark. Using a national 100% renewable energy study and a suitable energy system analysis tool (EnergyPLAN), the method accounts for inter-sector coupling and energy system dynamics. The energy system is assessed by comparing the results from the analysis tool against numerous key sustainability factors for a Smart Energy System. The paper illustrates how the method delivers a sustainable 100% renewable Smart Energy System for Sønderborg, which can be part of the Danish energy system in 2050 based on local resources. The paper discusses the broader applicability of the method within strategic energy planning.


Author(s): Ivanka Pandelieva-Dimova

Title: European Union Horizon 2020 Smart City Approach and Its Application in the Bulgarian Context

Publishing Date: July 2018

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Abstract: Urban sustainability is a major pillar in the European Union policy towards reaching Paris Agreement targets. In order to support cities and local communities around EU in their effort to implement innovative solutions and integrated approaches to increase their resource efficiency and climate resilience, European Commission funds the instrument "Smart Cities and Communities" (SCC) as part of its Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020 (H2020). The overall approach is to define and implement sets of innovative integrated sustainable actions in three main domains: energy, urban mobility and information and communication technologies at city/municipal level. The most innovative solutions are implemented by a number of lighthouse cities while follower cities closely observe the actions being performed in the lighthouse cities, and commit to select and put into practice the most promising and adaptable ones depending on their local conditions. Since 2015 four Bulgarian cities have been part of SCC projects, namely Sofia, Bourgas, Varna and Asenovgrad, participating as followers and working together with local communities from all across Europe leading the way towards urban sustainability and carbon emission reductions. Asenovgrad is supported by Sofia Energy Centre as partner in Horizon 2020 SmartEnCity Project where it cooperates with the lighthouse examples of Victoria-Gasteiz (Basque Country, Span), Tartu (Estonia) and Sonderborg (Denmark) on their path to achieve carbon neutrality in the long-term perspective. The article presents the overall H2020 SCC approach based on the implementation of most advanced processes, materials and products applicable to different areas of urban sustainability. Taking the experience of SmartEnCity lighthouse cities as a starting point, it is focused on the ways to successfully adapt the most promising solutions matching the specific Bulgarian conditions. In addition, on-going cooperation among Bulgarian follower cities has been initiated which helps in broadening the scope of possible measures and utilization of available knowledge beyond the project boundaries.


Author(s): Koldo Urrutia-Azcona, Luis Fontan-Agorreta, Francisco Javier Diez-Trinidad,et al.

Title: Smart Zero Carbon City Readiness Level: Indicators System for City Diagnosis Towards Decarbonisation and Its Aplication in the Basque Country

Publishing Date: May 2018

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Nowadays, urban environments concentrate over half of the global population and will, it is estimated, surpass 70% by 2050. This concentration implies that many of the future challenges and opportunities emerging from their possible solutions will be in cities. One of the principal urban challenges is the carbon footprint of our cities and its reduction, by trying to exploit the potential of technological solutions. This ambitious transition, guided by the Smart Zero Carbon City (SZCC) concept, needs a flexible system of indicators, adaptable to different sizes of city, bearing in mind the main singularities of each one, so as to offer the most suitable interventions and to prioritize them. The principal objective of this study is centred on the characterization of cities in terms of the innovative SZCC concept, by applying the Smart Zero Carbon City Readiness Level (SZCC Readiness Level). A selection of indicators in the SZCC concept for analysing a set of key aspects of the main thematic areas of the city (Characteristics of the city; City plans and strategies; Energy; Mobility; ICT Infrastructures and services; Public Participation). This characterization informs the development of the SZCC concept in the city, detecting its strengths and weaknesses, in order to facilitate the selection of alternatives to move towards decarbonization. It is at the same time a manageable way of assisting decision-making in small and medium-size municipal councils that are so common in the European context and that usually have fewer resources than large capital cities. With a view to validating the selection of indicators, the SZCC Readiness Level was applied to 5 Basque cities that are representative of different urban typologies, analyzing their current situation in the light of the SZCC concept.


Author(s): Age Poom and Rein Ahas (University of Tartu, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences)

Title: How does the environmental load of household consumption depend on residential location?

Publishing Date: 26. August 2016

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Spatial planning aims to improve the socioeconomic and environmental sustainability of a region, yet, in the spatial planning framework, it is difficult to capture the environmental impacts of the lifestyle of residents as a whole. We use carbon load as an indicator for environmental pressure and explore the spatial variations in carbon load from transport, domestic energy use, and the consumption of goods based on data obtained from the Household Budget Survey in Estonia, in an attempt to understand how residential location is related to the environmental load of household consumption. We use environmentally extended input-output computing for carbon accounting, multiple regression models for statistical analysis, and settlement hierarchy as an analytic tool for characterizing residential location. The results show that the capital region and other higher-level settlements provide favorable conditions for the consumption of leisure-related goods and services even when other socioeconomic variables are taken into account. Industrial cities dominated by apartment block housing are characterized by conservative consumption patterns of residents. For rural residents, a lower carbon load imposed from other consumption categories compensates for their higher dependency on cars. We conclude that there is a need for an integrated and balanced spatial planning policy that considers the entire consumption pattern of populations in different settlement types.