EIT Climate-KIC and partners collaborate with Laudes Foundation to advance Madrid and Milan sustainable urban approach across Europe

EIT Climate-KIC, with the support of Laudes Foundation, announces an initiative to mobilise its community of experts to work with a broad coalition of city leaders, citizen groups and businesses to accelerate efforts to lower embodied carbon in new buildings in two of Europe’s largest urban regeneration projects: Madrid Nuevo Norte and Milan’s L’Innesto.

The two-year programme takes a transdisciplinary approach to collecting key learnings from the two urban development projects to scale positive action across other European capitals, with the objective of transforming sustainable building practices in urban planning and construction at the pace and scale required to achieve net-zero carbon goals.

By commissioning large regeneration projects across Europe, city leaders are playing a key role in encouraging sustainable building practices, and indirectly shaping the market for net-zero carbon, circular and timber construction. This is a much-needed development, as in a ‘business as usual’ scenario, emissions from new buildings are expected to surpass 100 gigatons globally by 2060.

Both Milan and Madrid are examples of cities with regenerative and inclusive built environment ambitions. L’Innesto Milano will be Italy’s first zero-carbon social housing development, including 21,000 m2 of affordable housing. About 1,500 km to the south-west, Madrid Nuevo Norte is currently the largest urban regeneration project in Europe, covering some 330 hectares of the Spanish capital, and brings to focus nature-based solutions and sustainable mobility.

The programme launched on March 23, 2021 by EIT Climate-KIC and its partners, and supported by Laudes Foundation, aims to capitalise on this trend, as well as highlight best practice from Madrid Nuevo Norte and L’Innesto initiatives to inspire further positive climate action in cities across Europe. By working with these leading urban regeneration projects, the initiative aims to influence mainstream sustainable building practices, moving from a purely technical approach, to a transdisciplinary and experimental one, integrating culture and aesthetics, material flows, regulatory innovation, citizen engagement, financial incentives and new technological solutions. This systemic approach aims to help cities reach levels of carbon neutrality that are simply not attainable with a focus solely on reducing carbon-intensive construction practices.

To achieve carbon neutral construction in terms of embodied carbon, the process needs to be adapted, and a system created that incentivises stakeholders across the value chain to succeed. This can be done through focusing on: 

  • Setting pathways on how to reach embodied carbon neutrality through industry value chain collaborations, and capacity building;
  • Shifting rules where new policy tools and regulations are developed and tested in key cities;
  • Securing investments and developing financial plans and value propositions for neutral embodied constructions;
  • Empowering communities through the engagement of civil society to increase awareness of the health benefits of neutral embodied carbon constructions; and
  • Scaling wood as a construction material in cities that have historically used concrete and steel.

To achieve these transdisciplinary interventions, EIT Climate-KIC will integrate its broad ‘Knowledge and Innovation Community’ (KIC), which includes architects, developers, investment bankers, economists, system designers and citizen participation experts such as: Bankers Without Boundaries, Dark Matter Labs, Democratic Society, Material Economics, the Global Covenant of Mayors, the City of Milan, the City of Madrid, REDO, Politecnico di Milano, Agenzia Mobilita’ Ambiente Territorio,Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Distrito Castellana Norte (DCN) and Arup.

The programme builds on EIT Climate-KIC’s previous experience working with both Milan, Madrid and the programme partners as part of its Deep Demonstration of Healthy, Clean Cities – an approach aiming to make the 15 participating cities carbon neutral by 2030. It will provide a space for Milan and Madrid to learn from each other, while capturing their experience into a methodology designed to be replicable in other European urban centres and capitals using a similar approach.

Quotes

Kirsten Dunlop, Chief Executive, EIT Climate-KIC.

“Cities are at the forefront of fighting climate change, in part because they are such a concentration point of emissions and in part because they offer the places and spaces in which sustainability and transformation can be made tangible and real in front of our eyes. We are proud to work with cities like Madrid and Milan with the courage to embrace the challenge and the opportunity of large scale systemic change, designed to be co-created with and beneficial to local citizens and businesses. This partnership is an opportunity to demonstrate how a systemic approach to innovation – involving physical construction and planning, finance, aesthetics, culture, social change, nature, regulation and technologies all working altogether –  can demonstrate in practice what it means to create healthy clean cities.”

Leslie Johnston, Chief Executive, Laudes Foundation.      

“City leaders are critical to championing sustainable practices in the built environment, but they cannot do so alone. We are therefore proud to support EIT Climate-KIC and its pioneering urban demonstration projects in Milan and Madrid. We are confident this will encourage the collaboration amongst cities, industry, investors and communities needed to transform the built environment. And we hope that these showcase coalitions will also inspire other cities to follow their lead in embracing the use of timber and circular materials.”

Begoña Villacís Sánchez, Deputy Mayor, City of Madrid.

“The European initiative Healthy, Clean Cities in which Madrid participates as a demonstrator city, opens an in-depth work area on the decarbonisation of buildings throughout their entire life cycle. The project will allow Madrid to position itself as a pioneer in southern Europe in the application of climate neutrality criteria to the building sector. The plan consists in mobilising key actors of the different systems involved in the project: technical, business, legal-regulatory, financial, social, to take coordinated and simultaneous actions that make it possible to raise our ambition to a level that would not have been possible otherwise.”

 
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