Representative of Vilnius Egle Randyte recently met his peers from Nice Cote d’Azur as part of the Covenant of Mayors twinning programme. While a Europe-wide heatwave troubled the activities, it served as a reminder of the need for cities to engage in such important exchanges on climate adaptation practices.
Here are some of the topics at the heart of the discussions:
How to reuse heat produced in hospitals, sewers and data centres?
As part of an EU-funded Horizon 2020 project, Nice is developing pilot projects to demonstrate how to reuse heat produced in hospitals, sewers, data centres. ReUseHeat has projects in Nice, Bucharest, Madrid, Berlin and Brunswick to study the capture of wasted heat. Nice is developing a dual heating and cooling network as part of the project, in coordination with the Nice Smart Valley project, taking waste heat from sewers to heat the airport and other buildings.
Smart meters for smart energy use
As the number of electric vehicles and solar panels in Nice has been increasing, so has been the pressure on the electric grid. The first step to addressing these increased pressures is to understand the status of the electricity grid. Nice has already deployed some 80 million smart meters in households and businesses across the city.
These are free of charge for the consumer. The next step is to develop flexibility measures that postpone non-urgent energy use to off-peak times to even out the demand (through market measures).
Greening schoolyards to cool and educate
As part of a wider Nature for City Life project, Nice is aiming to tackle the challenge of heatwaves during the school term which has in recent years led to serious disruptions. Starting this year, four pilot projects in elementary schools will encourage local communities to get involved in designing their future school yards.
Changes will ensure the replacement of asphalt grounds with permeable alternatives allowing water to filter through to prevent floods and improve the ground cooling effect; green infrastructure such as vegetable gardens and green walls will be developed to increase biodiversity, improve the well-being of students and teachers and raise awareness of the benefits of green space.
Innovant electric tramway lines
Over the past 5 years, Nice has been developing its tramway lines to better connect the airport to the city centre, encouraging citizens and tourists alike to move away from private car-use to public transport. These tramways are not powered via traditional overhead wires. Instead, they have a so-called ‘third rail’ that connects the bottom of the tram to a charging point at tram stops. Within the 20 seconds the tram stops to allow passengers on and off, the tram charges with more than enough power to complete the journey to the next stop.The trams additionally include a mechanism to re-cover energy lost when the tram brakes, making them even more energy efficient!
The two cities will now develop a roadmap to outline next steps before the return visit next spring in Vilnius. The roadmap will include their learning objectives and transferable measures identified in this initial visit. As part of the European Covenant of Mayors twinning programme, 12 cities and two provinces have been paired to exchange their best practices for climate adaptation and mitigation measures. The outcome of these twinnings – including city challenges, strengths and lessons learnt – will be gathered into a booklet to be published mid-2020.