Climate Innovation Through Interactive Ecosystem Summits

On the 23rd of March the local ecosystem workshop in Bologna took place as part of the cities 4.0 program. The session took place in the Palazzo d’Accursio, the city’s 13th century beautiful town hall. With over 40 participants from Bologna, it was an excellent setting for the workshop focusing on making the built environment climate neutral before 2030.

Bologna has been a settlement for over 5000 years. Bologna became part of the Roman empire and the Romans started introducing their, as we now know, unique self-healing concrete 2500 years ago. That was a great start for the workshop on innovations in the built environment. The built environment is responsible for 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions and is the domain Bologna chose to focus on for the Cities 4.0 program. The objective of the workshop was to identify the main challenges Bologna has in eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment.

The stakeholders in the workshop represented city government, academics, architects, builders, real-estate owners, local companies, students and many other stakeholders. Solving these complex multifaceted challenges require true collaboration. That is why everyone got to work from the start with the Ecosystem Game©®that ESTI had brought for enabling multi-stakeholder innovation collaboration. The group enjoyed building a collaboration on solving an off-topic challenge before starting to work in teams on the sustainable built environment challenges.

The built environment challenge was introduced by the ESTI foundation with a number of possible future scenarios for making the building sustainable. Two of these possible scenarios worth mentioning are:

  1. The energy transition scenario and materials breakthrough scenario. At the current rate, it would take 350 years to touch all 143,000 residential buildings that need renovation to save energy consumption and transition from natural gas to a sustainable heating solution. In the energy transition scenario, a number of game changing and exponentially developing solutions would allow transition in the 2030 timeframe. There are three game changers that are part of that scenario. Game changer 1 is the availability of solar energy at 3-4 cents per kWh, this is expected to be a reality before 2030. The second is related to the projected normalized cost for battery storage to around 2 cents per kWh assuming 10 years battery lifetime and sizing based on required seasonal storage of 70 hours. Finally, game changer 3 is that the system will flip to a new energy system based on a 100% sun, wind and battery-based system. The system will flip from a maximum demand to a minimum supply system with abundance in energy and far lower cost per kWh for energy compared to today’s system.
  2. The second scenario is related to the innovation in materials. The first game changer in this scenario is related to the bio-tech and biobased revolution in materials. New materials are becoming available with excellent characteristics and in many cases a carbon negative footprint like e.g. PLA based polymer and bio-based materials like mycellium insulation. The second is the application of super insulator materials like aerogel that are becoming affordable and available in building products. And the third is the further adoption of phase change materials like e.g. heat storing and insulating cellulose – PCM mix solutions.

During the discussions the teams identified over 20 challenges that potentially need to be addressed ranging from finding solutions for medieval town centers and listed buildings to challenges around changing behavior and creating awareness.

As a follow-up for Bologna a number of prioritized key challenges related to a sustainable built environment will be shared with a larger community of stakeholders including many citizens. They will vote on what they see as the key issue to be solved. This will then be integrated into the international workshops with representatives from all four regions involved: Turku, Bologna, Eindhoven/Helmond and Leuven to create a number of shared challenges and a joint action plan.

“Cities 4.0 project has been funded by the European Union’s Lump Sum Europe program for Coordination and Support Actions GA 101070827- HORIZON-EIE-2021-CONNECT-01”.

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