Smart cities for smart people


A smart city is a sustainable and efficient urban centre that provides a high quality of life to its inhabitants through optimal management of its resources. Energy management is one of the most demanding issues within such urban centres owing to the complexity of the energy systems and their vital role. Therefore, significant attention and effort need to be dedicated to this problem.

Energy performance contracts (EPC), public private partnership (PPP) agreements and energy policy planning are the major tools commonly used to implement the energy efficiency measures and smart solutions of policy objectives, as well as to determine the best ways of shifting from current cities to smarter ones.

This contribution reviews energy-related work on planning and operation models within the Smart City of Genoa by classifying their scope into three main work areas: smart communication, energy efficiency on municipality’s assets by means of EPCs and the implementation of repeatable PPP models.

For each one of these areas a specific project has been implemented and the beneficial impact on citizens analysed respectively: the proposal for a new smart website, the European Local ENergy Assistance, ELENA, support to the Gen-IUS investment program, the transformation to LED of Genoa’s public lighting through a PPP agreement with small-and-mediumenterprises (SMEs). These projects have been chosen with the aim of framing the citizens as main actors of the smart city in which they live.

However, after more than a decade of discussion and active implementation of smart city initiatives, questions about the nature of human interactions in the systems are beginning to emerge. Sharing it and finding ways to make it useful for people are the real challenges.

In the absence of a standardised approach both at European and national levels, it has been shown that there is the need for the creation of a common process to help local government to deliver the desired urbantransformation into a smart model.

In this context, the smart website for the City of Genoa is a pioneering proposal for a website able to support the ICT services of a smart city and to implement the inclusion of citizens in the cities’ decision-making process throughout a functional communication level.

The implications for a new ‘smart’ breed of municipality human resources are clear: “embrace technology, and include citizens in decision making”.

The second case analysed is the Gen-IUS project, an energy efficiency investment programme supported by the European Investment Bank (EIB) through Horizon 2020 funds and the ELENA support facility. This case has resulted in an example of smart land development beyond the city.

The project focuses on the change of public procurement through the hiring of a single energy services company (ESCo), capable of offering either the new energy infrastructure construction works or the operation and maintenance service.

The innovative character of the case allows for a change from a form of planning at the level of the city to a more extensive form of planning relative to the territory of the metropolitan area of Genoa.

Gen-IUS, which stands for GENoa Innovative Urban Sustainability, is an investment programme in energy efficiency of circa €40 million of private finance.

Twenty-six municipalities of the Metropolitan Area of Genoa participate in the project, for a total of circa 700,000 inhabitants. Together they have requested the support of ELENA, for which a grant of up to €1.2 million can be approved for technical support in the preparation of public tenders in order to contract ESCos up to 2020; Genoa is the leader of the consortium of participants.

The objective of the Gen-IUS project is the implementation of innovation measures and energy saving in public buildings, public facilities and public lighting on the stairs that allows for interesting savings and greater efficiency.

In a period of budget shortages and no economic growth, such a comprehensive renewal programme based on third-party financing can make a difference by helping municipalities carry out public works that would otherwise be impossible to carry out with their own funds.

The last case analysed is the creation of a PPP agreement for the energy efficiency of public lighting in Genoa. The EPEC (European PPP Expertise Centre) supports Member States where the use of this tool, such as in Italy, is not as common. With this case, we want to give an example of participation by the private sector in the management of public services.

The project focuses on the change of risk profiles by which the company would now invest in the renovation of public infrastructure, guaranteeing the public service to citizens.

The innovative character of the case allows for a change, implementing a new form of public procurement processes that ultimately allows the participation of SMEs instead of single big companies generally capable of handling the risk profile associated with such infrastructure works.

The complexity of the PPP can discourage SMEs to be involved in such a process and, more generally, may result in a very difficult and lengthy process for municipalities, which traditionally do not have adequate financial and legal in-house capability.

To overcome these difficulties, a broad participation of private companies in an early stage public evaluation has been shown to be capable of bringing adequate resources to the financing of the project.

In Genoa, through the application of a preliminary expression of interest (EoI), there has been important participation by several companies that operate in the street lighting sector.

To govern this phase, it has been necessary to complete a comparative evaluation of the proposals received. So we have decided to apply the value-for-money (VFM) analysis as a comparative method to assess the appropriateness of the proposals.

Used largely in the Anglo-Saxon public sector, in Italy the VFM is still unusual and therefore innovative. The VFM includes an assessment of risk profiles that allows quantifying the economic value of the construction and operating risks transferred to the private sector. This risk allocation is essential for the implementation of a PPP in accordance with the European accounting roles of local government. MI


Diego Calandrino is a Ph.D., chartered mechanical engineer with broad skills in management, process engineering and renewables, primarily biomass, biogas, biofuels and waste-to-energy projects. Experienced with consultancy and management of multi-disciplinary teams, he has gained significant expertise through working on the sustainable development of a wide range of projects internationally.


Diego is currently leading the energy management department of the Municipality of Genoa, Italy, where he is responsible for advising how the Municipality can reduce energy bills and consumption through the development and implementation of appropriate energy performance contracts e/o public private partnership proposals to support energy efficiency across the Municipality‘s assets.