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EU-funded smart city renovation in Spain not to everyone's taste

EU-funded smart city renovation in Spain not to everyone's taste
By Euronews
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With its 31 buildings, some 1,500 flats housing 4,000 residents, the Torrelago district in Laguna de Duero, near Valladolid in northwestern Spain, is emerging as a large-scale example of energy efficiency in Europe. The old red brick facades have been given a green makeover, aimed at reducing energy consumption and improving comfort. Part of the EU project CITyFied, the renovation work started a year ago and is scheduled to be completed next by 2017.

“Out of the 31 buildings that make up the Torrelago district, seven have already had their facades completely renovated with new insulation, and inhabitants have noticed a considerable improvement in comfort. Plus, energy needs have dropped by 40 percent,” says project coordinator Ali Vasallo.

The rehabilitation project in Laguna de Duero includes upgrading the heating and hot water systems by replacing gas boilers with biomass ones. There are also plans to upgrade the energy distribution and management systems with smart grids.

“We have several sources of heating – 80% will be produced using biomass and 20 percent using natural gas. And we also have a backup system: in the event of high demand, if we don’t have enough biomass, we can also use natural gas to produce energy. These multiple sources of energy production bring down CO2 emissions by more than 70 %,” says Veolia research engineer Javier Martin Sanz.

The project has encountered strong opposition from some local residents who claim they were not consulted before renovation work went ahead and have accused it of being a “fraud” using poor quality materials.