Romania’s Cluj capitalises on Smart City energy

clujThe largest city of Transylvania, Cluj-Napoca, is trying to attract investors with the help of EU funds to become smarter, Emil Boc, the city’s mayor and former Romanian prime minister, told New Europe in Brussels.

Speaking on the sidelines of a conference on building smart cities and regions earlier in February, Emil Boc described the Romanian city’s plans for sustainable transport and energy saving. Their goal is “to work everyday” to fulfil European Union’s low carbon requirements by 2020, including green mobility and public transport but also the concept of “how do you manage your way of life, the quality of life,” he said.

“In terms of green mobility, we have the following concepts. First, electric buses, new trams, trolleys based on electricity, car-sharing process, encouraging electric cars in the city, putting them on specific lanes with the buses so they will have the possibility to go in the city on specific separate lanes for buses in order to encourage the electric transport,” Emil Boc said, adding that they also plan, using local funds, to build infrastructure for electric cars in the city.

“Second, would be cycling and to have a bicycling programe, encouraging people to use bikes all over the city,” he said.

“Third, would be rehabilitation of old block of flats, old buildings with new technology of green. So use European money in order to have the former Communist blocks transformed in new green buildings,” the former Romanian premier said.

“Fourth, would be a local policy towards green policy. What I mean by local policy: We have 50 percent cut of taxes if you build up a green building so the incentive for investors to start from the beginning with green building in order to have less taxes,” Boc said.

He said that all four aforementioned projects have already started and are undergoing. “We want to increase the use of European money. This exercise might be the last chance for Romania to use European money,” the Cluj mayor said.

He boasted that his city is more advanced than other Romanian cities. “Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done, but it’s more advanced. In Romania, it is the national capital of IT and national capital of innovation and I would say the best smart city in Romania so far,” Boc said.

“It’s a national effort but it depends on each city the capacity and the possibilities. We do have the advantage to have the experts and talents. We have 100,000 students in the city. We have a labour force highly specialised in all domains but especially in IT. For us, it’s easy because we have experts, the capacity of the budget and the knowledge to bring money in the city. Not all the cities have the same capacity,” he said.

Boc said his smart city “mainly depends on local government to be able to attract different sources of investment. If you just rely on money from the government, it will never happen”. He said EU funds are the biggest investment in order to boost innovation green transport and rehabilitation of the buildings for his city. The European Committee of Regions is the mediator between the interest of the local government and Brussels policies, he said, adding, “People need solutions, not stories”.



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