Urban Futurability® Brazil – Enel

Enel’s Urban Futurability® project is transforming Vila Olympia (the financial district of Sao Paulo) into a model for a more sustainable city, taking advantage of circular economy concepts and innovative technologies to generate value for the city and its citizens. Centered around stakeholder engagement and the pillars of the circular economy, Urban Futurability will enable the creation of cities which are more livable, resilient and able to adapt to the effects of climate change. It is utilizing new solutions to digitalize the power network, including 50 initiatives that introduce brand new technologies in Brazil. The project will also develop and implement advanced smart services, including electric mobility initiatives, smart traffic lights and smart lighting.  

At the heart of this regeneration project is the creation of South America’s first Network Digital Twin, a 3D model that replicates local electricity infrastructure using 5,000 sensors installed on the grid, communicating information in real time to both the distributors and local stakeholders. It is a new, virtual network model that creates an open data platform in VO to encourage local interest parties to contribute to (and potentially co-finance) new solutions based on infrastructure data (such as urban planning and safety). This technology will create greater awareness of energy use, efficiency and savings. It can provide a real-time understanding of resource use, predictive maintenance and subsequent mitigation of environmental risks.

The Networks are a fundamental element, an important enabler for the realization of a sustainable and circular built environment.  

Networks can contribute by integrating renewable sources, distributed generation, guaranteeing efficiency, safety and quality of the service and paving the way for many innovative applications. Technological innovation is a primary factor for the creation of ever more resilient and efficient networks capable of promoting circular business models having as objectives the greater competitiveness of the area, the protection of the environment and the improvement of people's quality of life. 

Sustainability lies at the core of the project’s design and implementation. A circular approach was integrated into the production process right from the early-design phase. The replacement of 4.8 km of overhead lines with underground cables is being carried out via a sustainable worksite model, which improves the sustainability performance and reuse of materials (such as water and soil from digging activities). The project is also testing out ways in which concrete might be substituted with polymers recycled from plastic waste (either purchased or derived from Enel waste).  

The project includes a wide network of stakeholders in an ”open governance” model. Enel partnered with universities, public administrations and start-ups.  

Circular economy may be conceptually developed along two different guidelines, according to the type of project: top-down or bottom-up. For this reason, having broad participation in strategy definition and maintaining engagement through the implementation phase is beneficial, as it increases the potential associated with both options. The participation of central and local public authorities is particularly important as the concept of a circular city demands a complete redesign of all activities inherent in the urbanization process.  

Urban Futurability is the first of many similar projects. The idea is to use this pilot as a model to be scaled and replicated in different cities, for instance in Colombia and Italy.

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