Accelerate 2014: Eurbanlab Community Conference (ECC)
November 25 2014

The European Opportunity – spreading innovation faster
Kees van Deelen, TNO and founding member of Eurbanlab, explains that Eurbanlab is an initiative to accelerate the transition into low carbon resilient cities and is sponsored by Climate-KIC. Therefore successful projects are showcased in the Eurbanlab library. To overcome risk aversion: an assessment method has been developed which indicates the performance and success of an urban innovation. A community creates a mutual space where public and private partners can meet each other.

Carolina Mateo, Instituto Valenciano de la Edificación, shows the benefits of the Eurbanlab 5P assessment methodology compared to the MED (Mediterranean) classical approach to sustainable building.

Smart and open approaches to enabling citizens and driving change
Smart and open approaches are not just a way to create sustainable cities with citizen involvement. It helps to create a new democracy.

Joseph Pique, City of Barcelona presents the results of the Urban Lab of Barcelona accompanied with a video. And Minna Maarttola, development manager of the City of Helsinki, does so for Helsinki. Many times, people are selling challenges, why not sell solutions? And if you can find a common agenda on issues like water, you can work together on solutions on global solutions. Pique and Maarttola recognise  that is difficult to “just copy” solutions from one city to another.

Francesco Zingales, greenApes from Rome, shows a video to introduce a new way to seduce citizens into sustainable actions by decreasing the barriers and increasing incentives. The App is now available on the website There is also a product for cities and companies.

Morgane Colombert, EIVP, explains the importance of stakeholder management to know when to act to improve new urban planning, for both top down as bottom up approaches. It is important to keep listening to citizens, involve them in the process of masterplanning through to small scale implementation.

Towards zero carbon communities: case studies and strategies
Eurbanlab has created a library full of successful, innovative projects. Ed Metcalfe, Institute for Sustainability, explains how it works. He has a clear view on the role of the government and believes there should be more adaptive governance. Tom Knowland, City of Leeds, tells about the unique features of this city with 800.000 inhabitants and many ambitions in sustainable development. Leeds is eager to innovate and looking for other cities to cooperate in European programs.

Christophe Gobin, Vinci Construction, has seen many projects with financing difficulties. He states we need a new business model and proposes to monetise the soft values in Life Cycle Analysis. It is time to share a new vision on activities. In this we can take advantage of systemic approach, like Eurbanlab. Florence Castel, Advancity, explains how her organisation works on community building around implementation of sustainable urban projects.

Collaboration on a metropolitan scale
Roger Toussaint, Eurbanlab / Javelin Creative Solutions, shows how the results of the fourteen Eurbanlab assessments finished so far indicate that more collaboration and leadership lead to a higher impact on energy efficiency and a beter score (lower) annual energy consumption. Roger sees a lot of grassroots developments: urban farming, people being more engaged with the environment and more conscience of sustainable urban development.

Carine Saloff-Coste, City of Paris, shows a map of Paris to indicate that  “There is no choice – collaboration is a must!”. The Parisien economy does not exist, it crosses the city borders. If we fail, we will be less competitive, and not be able to tackle issues like transportation. Fifteen years ago the city of Paris began to talk with the neighbour cities about the metropole possibilities. As a big city, it is important to share our tools to support economic development and innovation in other municipalities.

Jon Bloomfield, Innovation Birmingham, explains how Transition Cities project is working on bridging the gap between individual projects and high-level political aspiration. Their city oriented approach suggests focus on a clear challenge for demonstrators and to create critical mass. It is very complementary to the Eurbanlab approach of focus on sharing and improving the innovative projects across cities to make the step from individual projects tot sustainable cities.

The most important question of this session was: “Can we make progress in sustainable cities in these times of economic crisis? The answer of Jon was clear: “Green growth, like efficient transport solutions and energy efficiency, is part of the solution of the economic problems of Europe.”

Business case for investing in innovation
Annabelle Diot, Avesta Group, shows the importance of culture for cities in general and for sustainable development in particular. The example of the Russian city of Perm in the Urals is proof of how an industrial city can regain attractiveness and reputation by investing in cultural development of the city.

Alex Burrows, Atkins Global, comes up with a solution for the current business model driven way of decision making for big investments. Quantifying the wider benefits with a systems approach gives the opportunity to balance the 3R’s:  Resources, Risks and Rewards. This process innovation of focussing on the 3R’s can unlock private investments.

Eurbanlab analyses and spreads examples of sustainable, innovative urban projects including innovations in business cases. Peter Bosch, TNO, explains the business model that makes Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES) work in a couple of Dutch building projects that have been analyses with the Eurbanlab assessment methodology.

This session raised questions about taking social impact into account in the business model. If this happens depends largely on who is paying for the project. E.g. Unesco has indicators for monitoring and benchmarking on cultural aspects.

Tools to help us catalogue, model, and liberate the best ideas
Anne-Marie Spierings, ARCADIS, gives a live demonstration of how the Eurbanlab library can help in being inspired by some of the best examples of sustainable urban development. Peter Bosch, TNO, explains about the Eurbanlab assessment method. After almost 25 realized assessments clients tell the Eurbanlab assessments increase confidence and trust, and support the de-risking of investments.

Dr. Savvas Verdis, Siemens, tells the audience that all cities are different and therefor copying techniques from well performing cities does not always work. Siemens has developed the City Performance Tool to make tailored transport choices based on four KPI’s: CO2-savings, PM10-savings, costs and new jobs.

Véronique Pappe, Construction21 International, explains the organisation of Construction21 with national platforms managed by local chapters and information in local languages as well as in English. The online communities share information on the broad topic of green building.

A question about health indicators make the speakers realise that we do not get beyond the point of indicators on emissions. Although we know a sustainable city can contribute to good health in many more ways than just reducing pollution.