Utrecht, the Netherlands

Sustainability and Resilience

What efforts have been made to reduce the carbon footprint of the initiative?

CO2 emissions in the municipality of Utrecht will be around 1.2 million tons of CO2* in 2019. In the period from 2015-2019, CO2 emissions decreased overall by 16%. CO2 emissions per inhabitant decreased more rapidly (-21%) than total emissions (-16%) in the period 2015-2019, because in the same period the number of inhabitants grew (6%). An important factor in this decrease is the decrease in the national CO2 emission factor for electricity by 30% due to greening of generated electricity. This means that the urban CO2 emissions from electricity use is falling. The heat supply has become 11% cleaner in this period. The emission factor for gas remained the same during this period.

How have the anticipated impacts of climate change been considered?

By using a wide variety of indigenous plants and trees we reduce the change that all plats or trees die from changing climate. We started to collect seedlings from local trees to broaden the genetic diversity of tree-species. In existing grasslands, we do not add extra plant seeds. By maintaining the grassland in a regular way, we give the soil and the vegetation time to settle and stabilize.

Our trees are planted in specific soil to stimulate growth and with enough room underground, to make sure they will grow to big healthy trees. With tubes that go directly into the ground we reduce the amount of water we have to give during droughts.

Number of solar panels growing

In 2020, 17% of all roofs in Utrecht were fitted with solar panels. That is a third more than the 13% in 2019. Housing associations in particular have invested in solar panels, which grew from 6% to 14%. The number of charging points in the city increased from 1,650 to 2,512. A growth of over 50%. The number of electric vehicles also increased: by 36%. September 2020 there were 9,743 in Utrecht.

Green roofs

In 2020, 433 green roofs have been installed, with a total surface area of 19,469 m2. This is a fivefold increase of the constructed roofs. A green roof is not only good for insects, butterflies, and birds. It collects rainwater, insulates in winter and cools in summer.

What processes does the initiative include for it to be considerate in its use of soils and other natural resources?

In the past, chemical laundries and metal processing companies have caused extensive groundwater contamination in the Utrecht inner city and Central Station area. This has caused extensive deeper groundwater pollution. These contaminants have become mixed and can no longer be remediated separately.

The polluted groundwater had an inhibiting effect on redevelopments in the centre of Utrecht. It was decided to take an area-focused approach to this groundwater contamination. This approach is laid down in the “Area plan area-oriented groundwater management and vision of sustainable use of the subsoil”.

In this area plan, the policy pillars protecting, improving and utilizing the subsoil are central.
underground are central.

There are measures to protect the clean area and to control and improve the quality of the
contaminated area and to control and improve it. In addition, it remains possible to use the subsurface for sustainable energy such as heat and cold storage (WKO).

Groundwater monitoring network

The implementation of the area-oriented approach will make use of a large-scale
groundwater monitoring network in the deep subsurface. The groundwater monitoring network consists of approximately 315 locations with monitoring wells. Per location there are 4 to 6 monitoring wells at depths varying from 10 to 120 meters. The groundwater from these monitoring wells is examined to check for undesired dispersion of contaminated groundwater so that timely measures can be taken. Diffusion is a slow process.

All measurement results of the monitoring network are at:

https://utrecht.dataplatform.nl/#/data/grondwaterkwaliteit