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16 July 2015

Interview with Mikael Edelstam, Representing Commitment '3321 – Finding Area-based Holistic Models for Smart Sustainable Renovation of Buildings and City Districts'

What is your role in the Market Place?

I am an expert in the Market Place team and I have a special responsibility for the Action Cluster on Business Models, Financing and Procurement. I try to promote the commitment from the city of Malmö (Sweden) and we have worked to publish a case study on the Market Place website.

Could you describe your commitment in a few words?

Commitment 3321 representing the city of Malmö is an Innovation Platform for smart sustainable cities and we work in close collaboration between the city, the business sector and universities. We also have a lot of influence from civil society organizations and citizens.

We have a special focus on the existing housing stock which has two challenges, both the need of energy and environmental renovation, but also social investments. We try to combine ecological upgrading with social upgrading. In order to solve these challenges we also work with financing and investment models.

What is the status of your commitment progress right now?

Our commitment is developing well. We have been working for about two years and we will now get funding for another three years. We see very promising results, engagement from local housing companies that combine ecological retrofitting and renovation with creation of local jobs.

We also see new collaborations between different companies that create innovative solutions for energy efficiency in the district heating systems, for example. We see some new models for urban farming that engage citizens from very different groups and there are also new projects coming up where, for example, housing companies stimulate savings on hot tap water to reduce energy usage and use the saved money in support to children in local schools to help them with homework, combining ecological and social efforts.

We also see some large companies that have started to engage in social issues and starting to create social product portfolios, which is quite unusual. They understand the importance of this action through the Platform.

What are the main strengths of your commitment?

One of our strengths is that we have very clear and visible social and energy challenges. Although this is not nice to have, the challenges make it very clear that we have to do something about them, which creates a motivation both among the business society and the public sector. These challenges also reflect wider challenges in the European Union. Therefore, if we can come up with solutions, they will then have a large impact on wider areas. We also have a very good consortium with very good internal collaboration.

A third strength is that we can begin to understand financing and investment issues that are needed to be in place to get the resources for doing real investments and to get new solutions implemented.

What are the main challenges your commitment is facing and how could the Market Place help you to overcome them?

One thing that we struggle with is that we need more resources for social investments, as well as new models for calculating the societal values that can be created when investing in the combination of ecological and social retrofitting. We would also need models to be able to calculate the return on investment for the city.

Although these are things that can be seen as weaknesses, we see them as needs. We are also interested in learning from others about such models for social value calculation, which could be jobs creation, reduced crime, increased social engagement, a better quality of life for citizens – all things that also can be described in monetary values. If we can calculate that, it could be easier to get investments. In this field we are looking to the United Kingdom and to the Netherlands, but we think there are also good examples in other places around Europe.

We would like to use the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Smart Cities and Communities to find knowledge and partners and team up with them. We would also be interested in using the EIP to get a deeper dialogue with financial stakeholders such as the European Investment Bank (EIB) or other financial institutions.

There are a lot of things we could gain from taking part in the EIP and from having partners around Europe.

What are your next steps?

We do a lot of things, so I will mention just a few. We have started to apply some of the solutions in one city district as I mentioned before. We are now trying to spread those good results to other parts of the city. One example is that we want successful housing companies that are implementing the new solutions to tell other housing companies how they have done it so that the good examples can be replicated around the city, and potentially spread outside Malmö and Sweden.

We have also handed in a Lighthouse application to get more funding and to put our challenges on the European agenda. Finally, we are looking into how to set up an area-based investment fund that would combine social investments and deep ecological retrofitting of existing buildings.

 

Action cluster