How Ljubljana is gearing up to be a European leader in sustainable development
Ljubljana's new electric-powered train, Urban
So what does the future hold for Ljubljana? We take a look at some of the ways in which the city is gearing up to take sustainability to a whole new level:
Ljubljana is aiming to reduce its greenhouse gas emission levels by 30% (from 1990 levels) by 2020, which will surpass the 20% target of the EU's 2020 climate energy package. The city is also looking to source a quarter of its energy needs from renewable sources by the year 2020, which is 5% over its required target. Not only that, but between 2012 and July 2015, 50% of the electricity supplied to Ljubljana's "Big City Family" has been generated from renewable sources. Since July that share has risen to 100%; a clear demonstration of Ljubljana's ability to take renewable energy seriously.
Energy monitoring will also be a top priority for Ljubljana as the city applies the old adage, "you cannot manage what you cannot measure."
In the Šmartinska District Partnership, a consortium of a dozen private partners have created an ambitious long-term urban project which is set to become the largest regeneration project in Ljubljana. The Šmartinska District Partnership will incorporate sustainable urban and commercial construction to regenerate 2,278,300m2 of industrially degraded land.
74% of all Ljubljana households currently use district heating systems (of which a good percentage of heat is generated using biomass). They want this to rise to 80% by the year 2024. Clean technologies will be rolled out to all new buildings and the city will focus on moving over from coal to gas.
Ljubljana is determined to incorporate as many environmentally friendly building practices over the next few years. Urbanscape Green Solutions have recently installed two green roof systems on top of a main Info Point located outside Ljubljana City Hall, and there is scope for plenty more green roofs in the city.
Since 2008, Ljubljana has replaced 13,428 lights on roads and in residential areas (in line with the Decree on Limiting Values due to Light Pollution of the Environment) and is committed to increasing this number over the coming years.
The public transport fleet of Ljubljana is also set to modernise. Later this year, 30 new low-emission buses will come into service, helping to both lower carbon emissions and to extend the bus services out to the suburbs. The aim by 2020 is to have one-third of trips taking place via private vehicles, one-third by public transport and one-third by non-motorised means.
Furthermore, there are 28 P+R systems expected to be operational by 2020, which will make a dramatic difference to the levels of traffic seen in the city. New cycle routes will be built and existing routes will be maintained. There will be greater access for people with disabilities and the city will continue to promote a green policy with regards to all new projects being taken on as well as maintaining the existing ones.
The city will continue to expand its fleet of over 120 CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles and Energetika Ljubljana is planning on installing more public filling stations around the city.
Ljubljana is the European capital with the largest share of separately collected waste (65 % in 2015) and the first European capital to be part of the Zero Waste Europe network with a Zero Waste Strategy.
At its core, Ljubljana is following the Reduce Reuse Recycle hierarchy to great effect. It will continue to be developed along with the Zero Waste Network in the city. Working under the auspices of the national Regional Waste Management Centre project, Ljubljana aims to have the most sophisticated system of mixed and bio-waste management in all of Europe. This Zero Waste system will eliminate all discharges to land, water, or air that may be a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.
The underground waste system in Ljubljana is also due to undergo expansion. Ljubljana's Central Wastewater Treatment Plant will undergo an upgrade as will the sewerage network thanks to EU funding.
Plans are underway to expand the city's already gigantic ecological zone. Parks in the west and the forested Golovec Hill park in the east will be connected to the city centre.
Well, this is where Ljubljana is quite lucky, as the city boasts drinking water without the need for any additional technological treatment (and is one of the only European capitals to do so). The main water source for Ljubljana and its outskirts is groundwater from two different ecosystems: Ljubljana Marsh and Ljubljansko Field. The water is of outstanding quality, and is another perfect example of how Ljubljana has managed to preserve its ecosystem whilst the city continues to expand and develop.
There's a plentiful supply of it too, so it looks like this city won't be worrying about the good old H2O anytime soon.
In fact, it would be fair to state that there's not going to be a whole lot of worrying going on in Ljubljana when it comes to sustainable modernising. The city is taking its environmental responsibilities in its stride, safe in the knowledge that what it has managed to achieve in the past decade is just the beginning of an exciting journey and also the beginning of a great future for Ljubljana.
As Mayor Zoran Janković said at a European Commission ceremony: “When we began in 2006, we didn’t know anything about a European Green Capital. But we knew the importance of becoming green. I already knew then that we were on the right track.”
And as the city relishes the trappings of its European Green Capital status, one thing is abundantly clear: for Ljubljana, going green is a one-way track.
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