Our Smart Sustainable Districts team and our partner community support city stakeholders to develop and deliver transformative sustainability projects at a city-district scale. We prioritise a collaborative approach that involves all stakeholders in tackling simultaneous challenges. Our experience has shown that working at the city-district scale brings the complexity of whole-city urban challenges down to a more viable neighbourhood unit. City and district stakeholders can plan, pilot and prove approaches that overcome challenges to systemic change – to then be scaled back to city-wide implementation.

The problem

Moabit West, part of Moabit island at the heart of Berlin, is a city district area that is both residential and industrial. Like many European cities, there is significant pressure on the Berlin administration to create quality living spaces and affordable housing for a growing Metropolis. The borough of Berlin Mitte, which oversees the administration of Moabit, expects at least 24,000 inhabitants by 2030, and, in 2015, approved planning for almost 4,000 flats.

Against this housing backdrop, the district and city authorities have notable ambitions for a sustainable, resilient and low-carbon future. The “Green Moabit“ urban development plan, adopted in 2014 by the district municipality, encompassed an integrated landscape of solutions spanning water, waste, energy, mobility, public space and social infrastructure. However, the local authority required further delivery support, which EIT Climate-KIC offered.

The solution

The EIT Climate-KIC Smart Sustainable Districts team stepped in, helping to bridge the activity gap between the Green Moabit concept and its implementation.  The CHORA City & Energy department of Technical University Berlin, an EIT Climate-KIC partner, led the project management, liaising across stakeholders, managing and coordinating interests, and facilitating the integration of innovations and technologies.

The project team focused on three main areas for Moabit West: sustainable water management, energy efficiency and low carbon mobility. In the first phase of the project, the three focus areas were developed separately, before identifying interactions and potential for integration. The cross-cutting urban planning tool, District Data Atlas, a hub for viewing and exchanging geo data in 2D and 3D, integrated all themes right from the beginning and represented the challenges in a holistic way

A so-called Smart Citizen Network Board brought together representatives of the district administration, the urban utilities, the enterprise network, the quarter management office and the project leads, discussing general needs across Berlin and the ways in which the pilot projects in Moabit West are relevant for the city as a whole.

The impact

EIT Climate-KIC’s involvement brought together over 120 local stakeholders, creating capacity, common purpose and new funding.  Germany’s national development bank, KfW, has agreed to fund a Central Energy Manager, who will continue the Smart Sustainable Districts work in Moabit West. In addition, utilities and infrastructure companies have come forward to become implementation partners and 120k € in co-funding was raised from partners. 

Using planning tools developed in the Smart Sustainable Districts programme, a number of studies were undertaken that brought science and data and multi-disciplined stakeholders together. These included:

  1. The ‘Smart Street’ project developed a blueprint for a more resilient street regeneration to reduce the risk of flooding, which Berlin experiences about 30 times per year. The redesign included tree pits using a smart drainage system, the installation of public bike-sharing stations and the implementation of a more efficient lighting system.
  2. The potential for local businesses to get involved in the development through street-level simulations of future scenarios.
  3. Citizen mapping and use of big data to include crowd-mapping of projects and transport demands, a new bike sharing scheme and the introduction of an autonomously driving E-bus, planned as a demonstrator project, and use of smartphone apps and social media to encourage dialogue driven by cultural interest.

EIT Climate-KIC’s role

EIT Climate-KIC opened up new partnerships and funding streams by establishing a safe sharing environment and using its partner, Technical University Berlin, as a neutral coordinating entity. It set new standards for collaboration through the Smart Citizen Network Board and revolutionised data sharing across large groups of stakeholders with the District Data Atlas and Urban Gallery. Both innovations also attracted significant media interest and helped to lift the “Green Moabit” brand, bringing in new investments and implementation partners. 

“There’s some magic about being part of a European wide programme and sharing the experience with other districts,” says Kuhla von Bergmann, District key account manager. “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.”

Find out more about our Smart Sustainable Districts programme here.