The importance of citizens and their innovative associative models for the production, distribution and consumption of energy from RES (renewable energy sources) within housing developments with the highest standards of energy efficiency - so-called energy communities - are key factors increasingly prominent in European ecological transition. Not only these communities could become strategic “prosumers” of electricity, but at the local level there is a growing awareness among politically relevant actors that citizen behavior is the key to a successful energy transition.
A demonstration of this was presented on 24 and 25 September, in the framework of the European Horizon 2020 project NRG2peers, whose aim is to facilitate the emergence of energy communities, when the Municipality of Milan organized in its Borgo di Chiaravalle two days of meetings, games for children, activities and in-depth analysis among citizens and local realities to raise awareness on urban energy issues and promote innovative solutions to their multiple criticalities, thanks to the study and replication of successful cases.
During the first day of the roadshow with the objective of presenting and raising awareness of the activities of the Resilient City Project Directorate of the Milan Municipality and the projects implemented in the Milan area of Chiaravalle aimed at achieving both the ambitious objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change and carbon neutrality, Mihaela Mircea illustrated the contributions of the VEG-GAP project in the Pilot City of Milan, offering an example of how for the success of energy communities, the contributions made by the study on the effects of vegetation on urban air quality and climate are indispensable, as they are able to enhance the synergies between their actions at building and district level (e.g. in the mitigation of so-called "heat islands" even within residential spaces or in the energy efficiency of buildings implemented with Nature-Based Solutions such as "green" walls and roofs).
In particular, the contribution of the VEG-GAP project coordinator to the roadshow can be summarized with the following findings:
1. Air temperature and pollution levels over the city area vary according to different combinations of vegetation and urban morphology.
2. Hourly variations of air temperature and pollution levels are several times higher than yearly variations and they should be considered in health effects assessments, both for humans and ecosystems.
3. Strategies to combat air pollution and climate change in the cities should be designed jointly considering the urban ecosystems/vegetation characteristics.
4. The effects of urban planning and design on air pollution and climate change should be assessed since it has a long term impact on future of the city.