The City of Umeå has around 123 000 inhabitants and this number is growing steadily. The university district is an area that is expected to grow substantially from 5 000 to 15 000 inhabitants over the coming five years. The recently built train station connected to the bus system is a big transit node contributing to this growth.
The university District is located east of the city centre and consists of academic and research facilities, a university hospital, residential and commercial buildings currently and has around 50 000 daily users. Most of the area is under private or state ownership. Together with the city, the private owners have decided that the growth should not put extra pressure on the environment and that development should therefore be sustainable. The goal is to maintain the same energy consumption or decrease energy consumption whilst growing.
In November 2017, Umeå municipality joined Ruggedised, a Horizon 2020 project funded by the European Commission which supports cities with testing solutions and innovations in ICT, mobility and energy to reduce pollution, noise, CO2 emissions and energy use. Through the project, 3.8 million EUR is available over the next five years to make the university district of Umeå a smart city.
The area will have a 100% renewable energy supply with sun, wind and water as the primary sources. The cooperation between city, state and private owners for the development of the university district started in 2016. The Smart City solutions aims primarily at saving energy from heating and reducing CO2 emissions from transport.
The buildings in the area are connected to district heating and to geothermal heating controlled by a smart system. With this system, energy, both heat and cold, can be stored, shared and redistributed between the buildings, eliminating the need for oil fuelled boilers. Individual users can also control the energy use in their houses and workspaces with an app or other smart controls to prevent energy waste.
All the data from the energy system is collected and made available to the public on an open data platform.
A big solar power installation generates electricity and saves it in underground battery packs during the day. During night time this energy is used to charge electrical bikes and cars. The bus stops for the electric busses are being rebuilt so they are heated. This makes public transport more attractive and comfortable. It also prevents heat loss in the bus when it opens its door at a stop in the cold wintertime. To reheat the bus after stopping costs a lot of energy and reduces the range of the electric bus.
A bike sharing system with electric cargo bikes is set up that provide an alternative for shopping with a car. Users that have saved a lot of energy by programming their apartment get rewarded with credit for the bike sharing system or the bus.
The municipality is testing a new business model in the university district where building companies are offered to build less parking places than officially required if they in turn provide a good alternative for the car, for example a bike- or car sharing point or a delivery point for groceries.
The goal of the Ruggedised project is to develop Smart Solutions that can be replicated. Many of the practices from Umeå can be implanted in other urban contexts. Successful innovations from Umeå are up-scaled and deployed in the follower cities Brno, Gdansk and Parma.
All the data coming from the energy system is used to track the development of the solutions, monitor the solutions and to develop new solutions/replicate solutions in other contexts. The purpose of the project is to test solutions for replication and upscaling.
Innovations from the university district are already being implemented in other parts of the city and the other municipalities from the Ruggedised project observe Umeå closely and select which innovations they want to replicate in their city.