A ‘major mobilisation’ of interested and enthusiastic members of the public and other stakeholders has been the hallmark of the ‘+CityxChange’ programme pilot programme in the two weeks since its launch, which is looking at innovative ways to tackle the issue of reducing our carbon footprint.
The EU pilot project involves Limerick being chosen to roll out a programme that will see the Treaty City, along with Trondheim in Norway, give a lead to other EU centres of population on how to dramatically reduce their carbon footprints through innovative and sustainable climate action policies.
The programme, which is funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme in the call for ‘Smart Cities and Communities’ and is co-led by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), was launched by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton TD on September 6th last.
The reaction from local and regional stakeholders as well as the wider Limerick public has been a declaration of intent from the city and county regarding its determination to fight climate change.
“We have been so heartened by the response. Innovation and change can be hugely challenging for people but Limerick is embracing this from the get-go. We had a series of events on this project already and over 900 people have attended,” according to Corina Hanrahan, Digital Strategy- EU Projects, Limerick City & County Council.
But the response has been about much more than numbers. “It’s not so much the numbers; it’s the positivity. Climate change is, at last, getting universal recognition and we were hoping for big reaction to this incredible opportunity that Limerick has to become a pioneering city at a European level on such a huge global issue. But we really have been blown away by the reaction.”
“Limerick people are, first and foremost, hugely proud of getting handed this opportunity but there’s a real determination to grasp this opportunity. There is a need for behavioural change in energy requirement, generation and consumption and what we can say after the initial flurry of activity is that Limerick is really up for this,” she added.
The Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Cllr Michael Sheahan remarked: “This type of project positions Limerick right at the front in the race to find novel solutions to help address climate change. I’m pleased that Limerick City and County Council is working on these type of projects. It highlights the importance Limerick puts on climate action policies and shows how important it is use technology and innovation to help our society.”
“What I’m most pleased about is the reaction of the public and their enthusiasm for the project. Improved and better public consultations are the way forward so Limerick City and County Council can work with others to address the needs of our community and of those across Europe and beyond.”
A number of enthusiastically attended events have been held in the city since the launch of the +CityxChange programme, with the Citizen Observatory at the Fab Lab, Rutland Street, the hub for most of them.
According to one of the programme’s ambassadors, John Moran, engagement is very high, with a powerful collegiate approach emerging.
“The best places to live are places where people feel safe, engaged and trust is high between them and each other and with their local government. Initiatives like the Citizens Observatory are key and welcome initiatives in improving engagement on a fully inclusive basis and building trust.”
The +CityxChange pilot will start with a core of five buildings within the Georgian District of Limerick, anchored around Gardens International, the Limerick Twenty Thirty 112,000sq ft building developed on Henry Street to LEED Gold standard efficiency – one of the world’s leading energy standards. Gardens International’s sustainability will enable it exchange credits with other buildings in the programme with differing carbon ratings.
The other buildings already signed up for the programme are Limerick Chamber of Commerce and Rooney Auctioneers on O’Connell Street; Limerick’s General Post Office, Lower Cecil Street and Limerick Youth Services on Glentworth Street – all within the ‘Georgian Neighbourhood’.
For more information visit www.limerick.ie/CityxChange.