Ambitious sustainability goals characterise the urban development plan of Berlin’s Moabit West, one of EIT Climate-KIC’s Smart Sustainable Districts.

The problem

Moabit West occupies part of Moabit Island in Berlin. Over half the district is industrial, but there is also a large residential population. Moabit expects its population to grow by at least 24,000 by 2030, creating a need for new affordable housing without causing gentrification.

As well as increasing its housing stock, Moabit West aims to become climate neutral by 2050. It has ambitious sustainability goals for energy efficiency in manufacturing, electric public transport and sustainable water management. Achieving this will require a coordinated, district-wide strategy that engages citizens, private landlords, local businesses, utilities and services providers.

The solution

In 2014, Moabit West initiated an urban development plan called Green Moabit. While Green Moabit proposed sustainability schemes spanning water, waste, energy, mobility, public space and social infrastructure, it lacked an implementation strategy. EIT Climate-KIC’s Smart Sustainable Districts’ (SSD) involvement – as SSD Moabit – is providing the planning expertise to implement Green Moabit’s vision.

The main areas of focus are sustainable water management, energy efficiency and low carbon transport. SSD Moabit has developed urban planning tools with which to integrate these areas of focus and present them in a holistic, transparent and accessible manner.

SSD Moabit also set up the Smart Citizen Network Board (SCNB), which includes representatives from the district administration, urban utilities, the enterprise network, and the quarter management office. At its regular meetings, the SCNB discusses the city’s general needs and how Moabit West’s pilot projects are relevant for the whole of Berlin.

The impact

Surface rainwater runoff is being mitigated by increasing green spaces, planting trees and harvesting rainwater for cooling and irrigation. SSD Moabit is also examining the potential of e-mobility, low-emission transport and innovative private transport technology. In  2017 Moabit West piloted its first bike-sharing stations with partner nextbike.

The SCNB has helped institutionalise a multi-level forum with sustainability goals at the fore. As a result, Moabit has successfully initiated a conversation around sustainable urban development and has attracted players to commit to further investment in urban technologies and infrastructure.

EIT Climate-KIC’s role

In EIT Climate-KIC’s SSD team, Green Moabit found both a neutral partner and visionary leadership. The network includes experts from the private and public sectors and the academic and research community, keen to apply their skills to create innovative integrated solutions.

Berlin’s multi-layered governance structure can render decision-making overly complex. The Moabit SSD team took on the roles of broker, facilitator and accelerator, according to Nadine Kuhla von Bergmann, district key account manager for Moabit: “There’s some magic about being part of a European-wide programme and sharing the experience with other districts,” she says von Bergmann. “Stakeholders are desperate for knowledge and evidence. If a water expert from the Netherlands supports a particular perspective, that can really influence and will impact the local readiness to put investment behind it.”