The planning of an urban energy reduction scenario



Country: a) Southern Europeb) Italy
Type: Project, Policy, Concept, 1
Area: City/Town, 100,000 - 1 mill.
Actors: Local government, NGO
Funding: Local government
Topics: Air-quality
Information and public participation
Objectives: Improve access to information
Improve intersectoral cooperation
Improve national / international cooperation
Instruments: Integrated planning approach
New urban management tools and instuments


In 1993 the City of Bologna participated in the Urban CO2 Reduction Project of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. The aim had been to formulate an agenda for local energy saving activities. With an integrated planning approach, and with the support of experts from Europe and America, the newly established task force succeeded in elaborating and defining the framework of future measures in order to achieve an optimal 29% reduction of CO2 emission by the year 2005. The Bologna case proved to be an example of good practice for the following reasons:

Bologna confirmed its commitment to sustainability by signing the Aalborg Charter in June 1996. The local Agenda 21 initiatives have been implemented by the local authorities by appointing the research institute ”Ambiente Italia” to set up a technical team incorporating the leading public authorities and a public forum.

In 1996 Bologna was one of thirteen recipients of a Certificate of Distinction under the ”European Sustainable City Award” scheme.

Concept and aims


Bologna is one of six European cities that participated in the Urban CO 2 Reduction Project of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). The project, which also includes eight cites in North America, is designed as an international research, pilot and demonstration project which aims to establish new energy consumption patterns in urban environments and to identify and analyse the potential for reduction of urban energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The municipalities joined a working group which included ICLEI project leaders and American and European experts. The project intended to elaborate a step-by-step approach in order to combine local energy activities. The following stages have been undertaken:

  1. The setting up of a local task force group in order to compile and analyse all energy-related data. This group has to take into account the context between energy supply and use, land use, and transport systems.
  2. The second stage is characterised by the working out of a catalogue of measures which may contribute to a local reduction of CO 2 levels. It has to be stressed that this stage is more or less regarded as a measure pooling phase rather than a concrete measures setting. Therefore, these measures can be very imaginative and creative. The range of measures is subject to review at the next stage and the individual measures are assessed for their practicability at the local level.
  3. The third stage focuses on the evaluation of single measures on the basis of criteria elaborated with the help of the task force. At this phase the process also includes the incorporation of expert statements and public discussion forums. The assessment also includes the results from a comprehensive catalogue of schemes which has to be drawn up by the ifeu- institute in Heidelberg. This provides a description of over 200 individual energy and transport measures and the possible arrangements for inclusion into the urban decision-making process.
  4. At the fourth stage the municipality has to outline which CO 2 reduction targets are regarded as realistic and which measures are beyond the scope of action.
  5. The final stage should lead to the formulation of a local energy action plan. An energy action plan should comprise all the results obtained at the analysis and planning stages, as well as the agreed measures. It should also detail the organisational framework, as well as the time schedule and deadlines.

The City of Bologna had been in the favourable position that it had already undertaken an energy study in 1983. Therefore, the comparison of the consumption structures in 1990 and 1981 revealed some significant changes. The overall analysis demonstrated that more energy was used in all the sectors with the exception of the residential and industrial areas. The increase in overall consumption of approximately 4% was related to a major drop in the use of heating oil and a marked increase in the use of natural gas. These results can be explained by the fact that the population of the city declined in the years between 1981 and 1990; that private consumption of electricity increased; that the volume of private transport rose significantly; that the natural gas network was completed to 90%, and that the service sector expanded to a large extent. These trends also led to a 3% increase in CO 2 emissions.

On this basis the City of Bologna formulated three possible scenarios up to the year 2005 which can be characterised as a business-as-usual scenario, a stabilisation scenario, and a reduction scenario. Compared to the year 1990 a business-as-usual policy would lead to a 15% increase in energy consumption and a 17% increase in CO 2 emissions. With the implementation of the stabilisation scenario the municipality would reach a modest reduction in CO2 emission of 8% whereas a strict reduction policy would be able to get a 29% reduction in CO2 emissions.

As the business-as-usual scenario envisages that no serious changes in local, national and international climate protection policy take place, the stabilisation and reduction scenarios have to include various strategies for the energy savings measures. The following themes have been addressed in the Bologna case:



The project focused its measures in the areas of increased use of natural gas and renewable energies, the identification of energy saving potentials, the planning of a comprehensive traffic and transport policy, and increased planting of urban vegetation.

In the area of energy supply and use, the extension of the natural gas network has been given priority. An absorption cycle cooling plant with the capacity of 280 kW has been developed instead of a vapour compression plant that uses chlorofluorocarbons. A module of 200 kW has been installed that produces electricity from a natural gas power fuel cell.

Hydroelectric schemes include a plant in the city centre which produces 1.9 MW of electricity and another plant, the Castel di Casio basin project, is under study. If the feasibility studies are completed this plant should produce 8.3 MW of electricity.

In the area of municipal solid waste incineration, the energy recovery plant provides 6.9 MW of electricity. The solid waste dump has two internal combustion engines which produce 0.86 MW of electricity. A water treatment plant has a combined cycle gas turbine which generates 6.5 MW of electricity via a mixture of biogas and natural gas.

In the area of combined heat and power, seven sites for plants have been selected and they will eventually be interconnected in order to establish the basis of a city-wide combined heat and power (CHP) network. The first plant supplies the university and a hospital. It consists of three combined cycle gas turbines with a total electrical output of 37.8 MW. Another station with an output of 6.5 MW of electricity supplies industry, service centres and private users. A third CHP plant is next to the waste incineration plant and has a combined cycle gas-steam co-generation unit with an electrical output of 13 MW. The remaining four future CHP plants should have a total electrical capacity of 20 MW. They will supply new residential areas, pubic buildings, a fair ground, and an exhibition centre.

In the area of transportation there are several measures in the planning stage or in consideration for future planning. These include a light rail system, modernisation of public transport, automated access control for vehicles to the city centre, automatic traffic light control and the use of the state railway line for regional transport. Because of the limited financial resources, and the complexity of the planning matters, the first priority is on improving transportation systems by extending fast and separate lanes. New pedestrian areas, bicycle lanes and the introduction of electric cars are also issues for consideration.

In the matter of green areas the target is a doubling of the park land space. The number of plants should increase by 40 to 45%, entailing the planting of one million trees. A recent statutory change for the building of new roads fixes the percentage of new tree planting at 30 to 35%. In addition, a forest belt and a green area of 100 ha are planned.

In the area of environmental organisation, the municipal utilities of the City of Bologna have set up the post of an energy manager who will monitor and calculate the energy savings in the individual schemes, analyse the structures and technical facilities to make energy consumption monitoring possible, and continuously monitor and update energy consumption data. The energy manager will also report to the city's energy office.

Source of Information


OECD, (ed.) 1995: Urban Energy Handbook. Good Local Practice, Paris

Silio, Sebastian 1996: Bologna as an example of the phased implementation of ICLEI’s urban CO2 reduction project, in: EA.UE, (ed.), Facing the Challenge. Successful Climate Policies in European Cities, Berlin, pp. 194-198


Telefon:++39/51/20 31 10
Telefax:++39/51/20 31 75
Address:Comune di Bologna
Assessore Ambiente e Territoro
Piazze Maggiore 1
I- 40121 Bologna


Bologna :

Bologna is the capital of a province of the same name in the north of Italy, located in a fertile plane at the foot of the Apennines. It is an important traffic and transport junction: the main road links and railway routes connecting the northern part of Italy with the Tyrrhenian Sea and the southern Adriatic coast area all meet at this point. Of economic importance for the city are the food, drink and allied industries, mechanical engineering, optical, precision instruments and chemical manufacturers, as well as tanneries and shoe manufacturers. Work has been going on to comprehensively restore and renovate the medieval city centre since 1972.



Project was added at 21.06.1996
Project was changed at 02.03.2001

Extract from the database 'SURBAN - Good practice in urban development', sponsored by: European Commission, DG XI and Land of Berlin
European Academy of the Urban Environment · Bismarckallee 46-48 · D-14193 Berlin · fax: ++49-30-8959 9919