Promoting Madrid and Milan’s sustainable urban approach across Europe

The Technical University of Madrid and itdUPM, as local facilitator node of the sustainable urban transformation programme Healthy and Clean Cities Deep Demonstration in Madrid, celebrate that the Spanish capital is, together with Milan, one of the case studies chosen by EIT Climate-KIC and the Laudes Foundation for a new project aimed at promoting the reduction of the carbon footprint of building materials.

Specifically, the study will focus on Madrid Nuevo Norte and L’Innesto Milano, two of the largest urban regeneration projects currently underway in Europe. The aim of the project is to collect best practices from both regeneration processes, create a space for cross-learning from the two cities and transfer the learnings to the rest of the European cities. This transfer of learning aims to accelerate the transformation of the construction sector and put urban planning on the path to zero carbon emissions.

Why transform construction

The building sector is currently responsible for around 36% of carbon emissions in cities. Transforming the building sector into a net carbon market, based on the circular economy and with a greater use of wood as a building material, is a necessary evolution to meet the climate neutrality targets set.

Both Milan and Madrid are examples of cities that aspire to have a regenerative and inclusive built environment. L’Innesto Milano will in fact be Italy’s first zero-carbon social housing development, with 21,000 m2 of affordable housing. Some 1,500 km to the southwest, Madrid Nuevo Norte is currently the largest urban regeneration project in Europe, covering some 330 hectares of the Spanish capital, providing solutions based on nature and sustainable mobility.

Transforming construction is not just about innovating materials: the importance of multidisciplinarity

This project, which has a planned duration of two years, develops a multidisciplinary approach to address the issue of decarbonisation of construction, not only limited to technical aspects, but also including cultural and aesthetic perspectives, as well as regulatory innovation and citizen engagement.  We know that in order to achieve zero carbon targets it is necessary to involve all the components of the value chain of the construction process and to generate incentives for all the people and groups affected: it is necessary to adapt the regulatory frameworks (based on the experience of key cities where relevant advances have been achieved that can serve as an example for the rest); it is necessary to consolidate investment in this type of construction; to raise awareness in civil society of the importance and benefits of reducing the carbon footprint in the construction process. It is also relevant that bio-based materials, such as wood, increase their presence in buildings, replacing concrete and steel where possible.

In addition to the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and itdUPM (local EIT Climate-KIC facilitators), many and diverse agents are collaborating in this project: the EIT Climate-KIC community; Distrito Castellana Norte (DCN); Madrid City Council; Milan City Council; the Italian Agency for Mobility, Environment and Territory; the consultancy Arup; and the organisations Material Economics, Bankers Without Boundaries, Dark Matter Labs and Democratic Society.