Energy Efficiency for Smart Cities – Examples of Smart City Planning that Advances Energy Efficiency

You have probably heard about new, smart technologies that help people build and maintain their homes, offices and business by improving energy efficiency and reducing their carbon footprint. However, what you might not know is that these kind of solutions are also making their way into the field of city planning, allowing engineers and architects to design a new breed of cities that can freely grow and expand without interfering with their environment.

Usually the first step a city must undergo on its way to become truly “smart” is the utilization of information technologies which grant its officials a better insight into recurring problems and drawbacks. The City of Amsterdam in Netherlands has shown how usage of smart technologies that keep track of free parking spaces can lower its energy consumption and air pollution, since drivers don’t have to circle around the streets, looking for a parking space. Instead, they use their smartphones which inform them and guide them right to the nearest parking lot.

Along with Eindhoven, Amsterdam is also one of several European cities that use smart lightning systems to reduce its power consumption and improve energy efficiency. Unlike classic street lights, smart lights use motion sensors, infrared or ultrasonic detectors to constantly scan their surroundings. When there are no vehicles or pedestrians present, the lights switch off, thus reducing their energy consumption and prolonging their life expectancy.

Barcelona has also established its place among leading European smart cities. For example, smart technology has been implemented in the irrigation system in Parc del Centre de Poblenou, where real time data is transmitted to gardening crews and machines. This way, the plants get just the right amount of water, which means that no water resources and electricity are being wasted. City officials also used smart technologies to introduce smart traffic lights, which allow buses and public transportation vehicles to reach their destination faster and thus spend less time standing idle and consuming valuable fuel and oxygen.

Madrid, on the other hand, went one step further and developed a smart platform that manages local communal services. These include the sustainable and computerized management of infrastructure, garbage collection and recycling, public spaces and green areas. City officials report that significant saving have already been made, and that with new steps, more progress will be achieved.

Meanwhile, experts and officials from several other smart cities such as Stockholm and Dublin are looking forward to the development of Internet of Things. Stockholm planners believe that by connecting multiple types of devices and systems into one huge network, they will be able to synchronize city services, monitor and evaluate all kinds of problems and resolve them within minutes. On top of that, they hope to reduce the city’s energy consumption by 20%, again by utilizing both smart and green technologies.

By switching to smart solutions, replacing some old habits with new ones and careful planning, cities all over the world will be able to improve the lives of their current residents, secure a better future for future generations and introduce a new lifestyle that could benefit both humanity and Mother nature.

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