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VTT creates a concept for ecological city planning in the St Petersburg area


EcoGrad, a concept for ecologically efficient city planning tailored to St Petersburg conditions, is ready to be applied in practice. Partners are being sought who are capable of implementing the pilot project.

VTT’s final report on the project EcoGrad. Concept for ecological city planning for St Petersburg, Russia presents the EcoGrad urban concept. The concept includes a dense urban structure, a minimised need for private transport and maximised use of public transport and light traffic, minimised energy consumption, the use of renewable energy with maximum efficiency, and sustainable waste and water treatment solutions. The concept also takes into account social and cultural aspects.

The fact that buildings are constructed with a high level of density in St Petersburg, and that local regulations require everyday services to be located close to residents, supports ecological planning. However, there is still plenty of room for technical, economic and administrative development in Russia. Energy-efficient building is still at the initial stages of development, and there is little familiarity with energy systems based on renewable sources of energy.

Over the course of the VTT-led project, seven meetings were held with representatives of the City of St Petersburg. During these meetings, elements of the concept were presented and feedback was received on the extent to which different segments would suit local conditions. This made it possible to forge the relationships and prerequisites for the crucial co-operation with officials in St Petersburg.

The project also involved a resident’s questionnaire, among the findings of which was that residents (92%) do not consider it important for renewable energy to be used in residential heating. Mechanical ventilation is unknown to the majority (80%) of respondents. Fresh air is considered important (80%), but less than half of the respondents (40%) were willing to pay for it. As a result of the project, it was observed that involving inhabitants in the development process is an important part of ecological planning. It should be further developed in Russia and integrated as part of the planning process.

Implementing the concept

As part of the project a list of criteria was drawn up for ecological city planning in St Petersburg. The list specifies which matters require attention, which metrics should be used, and which special features should be taken into account in the ecological city planning of St Petersburg. The list of criteria helps local city planning to move towards more ecological planning of residential areas.

In addition, three pilot areas were planned within the project. The plans estimated energy consumption levels within each area, and ascertained the emission distributions of various energy systems tailored to local conditions. Calculations also took into account travel to services as well as traffic. In one pilot, a plan was also prepared which attempted to increase the ecological efficiency of an area without pushing up investment costs.

“In future, the aim is to work with local bodies to develop tools for city planning based on the list of criteria. We are looking for partners in the form of investors and a production network in order to implement the pilot site,” says Senior Research Scientist Åsa Nystedt of VTT.

“There are also plans for a virtual platform concentrating on energy-efficiency that would function as a meeting point for different actors. The platform would be used by Finnish and Russian businesses as well as Finnish R&D bodies and universities,” Nystedt adds.

The goal of the EcoGrad project was to apply VTT’s new Ecocity concept, which has already gone through its pilot stage on an international level, to housing production and urban property development in Russia. In the past, exports promotion has focused on supplying materials and finished products, but there is an increasing need to develop comprehensive service concepts.

From the perspective of Finnish actors, Russian conditions are distinguished by a similar climate, the opportunities of making use of renewable building materials, and partly also the need to concentrate housing production in major centres as dispersed residential settlements empty out.

The EcoGrad project ran from January to the end of November 2010. It was funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

A report was published on the basis of the project: EcoGrad. Concept for ecological city planning for St Petersburg, Russia