Innovative technologies for a smart city

Some 68 percent of all Europeans live in cities, a percentage that is expected to rise to 80 percent by 2050. This makes the city an ideal network in the struggle for a sustainable, climate-neutral future. The European City Zen Project is underscoring this ambition in pilot projects in Amsterdam and Grenoble.

The transition to a smart city can only succeed if it is first tested at pilot scale. This is the approach being taken by the 23 partners ─ local governments, research institutes, housing corporations, network operators and companies ─ of the European City Zen Project. In two cities, Grenoble and Amsterdam, the neighbourhoods Eco-Cité and Nieuw-West respectively are serving as testing grounds for innovations such as smart grids, district heating and making (collective) housing sustainable.

At the base of the Alps, the municipal district heating network in Grenoble will be expanded to include innovative technologies (such as a very low temperature district heating loop, linked to heat recovery from wastewater) and approximately 500 residences will be renovated for energy efficiency. In Amsterdam, more than 500 (principally social) residences are being targeted for energy renovation: surface water will serve as cooling water at neighbourhood level, waste heat will be extracted from wastewater …. In both demonstration projects, considerable attention is being paid to coaching residents.

VITO's role

VITO is coordinator of the City Zen Project, and is strongly committed to participation. It is refining a model to involve citizens in City Zen, as well as developing a methodology that gives stakeholders such as companies, governments and citizens the opportunity to collaborate on a smart city.

City Zen: facts & figures
  • Consortium of 23 European partners from five countries
  • Part of the European Seventh Framework Programme
  • Duration: March 2014 – March 2019
  • Budget: € 25,000,000
The transition to a smart city can only succeed if it is first tested at pilot scale.