Shaping the cities of tomorrow

20 march 2015
Urban growth continues to place huge pressures on a city’s need for cleaner energy, water supply security and effective waste and resource management. The main challenge lies in cutting consumption and pollution while boosting efficiency.
 
Cities of tomorrow

Veolia is rising to this key challenge by combining its expertise in waste, water and energy services to deliver comprehensive and integrated solutions to support the sustainable development of cleaner, smarter cities.

Today, Veolia provides innovative solutions that reduce a cities environmental footprint through waste management services, energy and resource recovery, district energy solutions, energy performance contracts for building upgrades, integrated water and wastewater treatment solutions and environmental educational programs.
 

The inevitable transformation of cities

Cities have always been a magnet and focal point for societal development. People have long come together in cities and continue to do so, drawn by the promise of security, social and economic interaction, employment, modern conveniences, education, culture and more.

Throughout our history, cities have had to evolve and adapt to accommodate a growing population, to meet the needs and expectations of citizens, to lend structure to community life, and to ensure their own growth and appeal. This is an ongoing process of adaptation, a process that is increasing in scope and speed. The simultaneity of major changes and new departures—driven by population growth and urban expansion, different lifestyles, resource scarcity, economic and social tensions, and environmental dangers—has an immediate impact on cities, making the need for urban renewal more vital and pressing than ever. Collective awareness of the impact, influence and role of cities has put them in the spotlight, raising clear questions as to how our urban models should evolve.
 

Nurturing balanced growth

The combined awareness of all stakeholders regarding challenges affecting the city and the surrounding region is vital to the success of any sustainable development campaign.

Measurements and assessments of the impact and performance of cities provide a basis for monitoring and managing the campaign and empowering stakeholders. For instance, in order to improve a city’s water network and distribution system, initial baseline consumption figures must be understood by the water utility provider as a critical first step before enhancement projects (i.e. minimising network leaks) are implemented.
 

Awareness of assets

  • Local natural resources
  • Cultural heritage
  • Human resources, skills, economy and education
  • Resources from human activity: heating, cooling, water, energy, waste, etc.

Awareness of risks

  • Environmental impact of the city on the surrounding region
  • Short-, medium- and long-term environmental dangers, such as flooding, depletion of local resources and climate change
  • Social and economic risks

A responsible city

Based on their strengths and weaknesses, local authorities pursue specific initiatives through a tailored and structured approach to shoulder their role and responsibilities as part of a long-term vision.
  • Responsibility towards citizens: quality of life, well-being, healthcare, employment and social equity
  • Responsibility to improve the local region: resource preservation, economic drive and value creation
  • Responsibility towards the planet: impact on the local and global environment

The environment is just part of the equation

Although the environment has long been a predominant part of any vision for a sustainable city, it is not the only yardstick by which local authorities must gauge progress. Environmental issues must be considered in relation to and in keeping with living conditions and profitable, long-term growth. 
 
The sustainable city

Rallying people behind a shared vision and initiative

Cities around the world including Australia and New Zealand are embarking on extensive transformation programs and initiatives. A strong, sincere political drive is a crucial catalyst for these processes but it is not in itself enough to guarantee their success. The viability of a sustainable city also hinges on its authorities’ ability to rally a wide array of stakeholders behind these programs, in step with community leaders, chief among whom are the city’s residents/citizens. Together, they must pursue a wide-ranging approach that covers every detail. That means planning and managing different action plans, using indicators to assess the progress and efficiency of measures implemented, and incorporating the financing needed to secure long-term success.
 

Rethinking the way cities work: Transitioning from excessive resource consumption towards a low carbon economy

The design and management of urban infrastructure and services are key building blocks and shaping sustainable cities. Like living organisms, cities use resources and discharge chemicals into the surrounding environment. The majority of today’s cities around the world are “energy and water hungry cities,” characterised by a lack of resources, very little materials recovery and insufficient efforts to manage the pollution they produce. In contrast, sustainable cities optimise and organise their different flows—of water, energy and waste/resources—into “local loops” through a more restrained, efficient metabolism that has less impact on the environment and eases the strain on finances.

Veolia develops innovative solutions to boost the efficiency and sustainability of city services and improve urban infrastructure. Examples include optimising the performance and efficiency of district cooling systems and office buildings, boosting recycling and recovery processes for waste materials and unavoidable energy and wastewater systems.
Each of these areas provides the potential for integrated joint initiatives to reduce the city’s drain on natural resources and its impact on the environment while cutting its energy bill.
 

Partnering with cities around the world and providing unique expertise

Veolia has over 160 years’ experience in designing, building and managing urban infrastructure and services for thousands of cities around the world. Supplying drinking water, treating wastewater, managing the production and distribution of heat and energy, turning waste into a resource… All of these solutions are vital to keep the city running smoothly, enhance quality of life for residents and improve environmental performance. Veolia leverages its size to implement technology and processes on an industrial scale, making integrated water, waste and energy solutions and services more widely available and accessible.
Veolia’s scope for innovation is underpinned by a long-term commitment, a customer-oriented approach and an objective view of available technology.
 

An innovative ecosystem

Alongside a solid policy, the involvement of all relevant stakeholders and the creation and monitoring of wide-ranging action plans, innovation is a key ingredient in the effective transformation of cities. Innovation has always been a cornerstone of Veolia’s business and strategy. It is now being channeled in new directions and imbued with fresh impetus, given the scale of the challenges at hand.

Innovation hones Veolia’s competitive edge, sets the company apart and drives its quest for excellence. It is also a formidable source of progress, appeal and cost optimisation.
 

Tangible solutions for the sustainable development of cities

Urban planning

Helping local authorities to improve their municipal strategy and implementation of sustainable development plans: Whether modelling urban operations or managing innovation with city councils, Veolia offers an array of resources and services to help local authorities audit, develop, manage and monitor their municipal development and improvement policy across waste, water and energy.

Empowering citizens

Developing services to facilitate and guide responsible citizenship and foster a change in behaviour: From reducing water and energy consumption to sorting waste at facilities throughout the city, the success of any drive to optimise environmental services hinges on the effective empowerment of citizens. Veolia focuses on educational initiatives for business, schools and councils as part of the campaign to change individual mindsets and practices.
 

Resource conservation

Diminishing the drain on the planet’s resources: For public authorities, taking action locally to preserve resources helps protect and enhance the region while making full use of the ability to “turn waste into a resource” such as energy.  There are many avenues to explore with Veolia, from recycling and resource recovery solutions to finding synergies between different facilities to create local loops.
 

Alternative energy

Unlocking local potential to promote the use of green and renewable energy: The campaign to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is an absolute necessity and must be implemented at every level. To this end, the drive to make use of cleaner and alternative energy sources is a key focal point for Veolia that allows authorities to reduce their energy bills.
 

Quality of life and environmental health

Improving living conditions for citizens to make our cities more sustainable and attractive: The success of public policy is always measured against the satisfaction and well-being of the people affected. Introducing simpler, more efficient, cost-effective services while improving people’s quality of life, has long been one of Veolia’s main concerns.
 

Community engagement

Community engagement initiatives to promote social equity: Social cohesion is vital to balanced, sustainable city growth. Through its position as a key player in urban development, Veolia works with local authorities and business on delivering meaningful community engagement programs focused on effective environmental management.
 

Smart systems

Developing smart systems to improve environmental and financial performance:Information and Communications Technology (ICT) are revolutionising environmental services. The growing range of ‘big data’ available and increases in capacity have made it possible to create systems in which all stakeholders (producers, managers and users) can interact with in real-time to optimise network operations. Veolia’s solutions are boosting the efficiency of municipal systems including district energy and building energy management systems, water networks and waste management systems.
 

How Veolia is supporting the sustainable development of Sydney

Smarter systems

Barangaroo South: Supporting the client’s carbon neutral and water positive objectives for one of Australia’s largest sustainable precinct developments.

Challenge: Barangaroo South is one of the largest urban renewal projects in Sydney, New South Wales.  Lend Lease, the owner and constructor of Barangaroo South, required a leading provider of environmental solutions to operate the precincts energy and water management systems.

Solution: In 2014, Lend Lease awarded Veolia a long term contract to operate and maintain one of Australia’s largest district energy schemes at Barangaroo South. The contract involves the operations and maintenance of a 62 megawatt district cooling network, high voltage embedded electrical network and a recycled water treatment plant.
The contract is set to achieve a new global industry benchmark in terms of performance and reliability and will help Veolia deliver its key aim of supporting the client’s environmental objectives.

Resource conservation

Woodlawn Bioenergy Facility: Turning a large portion of Sydney’s waste into a resource

Challenge: Reducing landfill waste will continue to be a major challenge for Sydney and other municipalities within New South Wales. Diverting domestic waste from landfill through sustainable waste management practices and resource recovery solutions are critical in meeting this challenge.

Solution: Veolia’s Woodlawn site plays an integral part in providing a long term sustainable solution for managing NSW’s waste. The Woodlawn Bioreactor currently accepts around 20% of Sydney’s putrescible waste and is recognised as an example of best practice landfill technology. It supports existing source separated initiatives such as kerbside recycling, by recovering energy from the residual waste stream. Since opening in 2004, over 3.8 million tonnes of waste has been used to generate green electricity, and the facility now exports enough power to supply over 2,500 households.

Through the production of compost from the organic fraction of waste, Veolia’s new mechanical biological treatment (MBT) facility at the Woodlawn site will further assist both municipal and commercial sectors to meet their resource recovery targets set by the NSW Government.
 

Quality of life

Sydney Desalination Plant: Ensuring water supply security for Sydney by turning seawater into high quality drinking water

Challenge: The city of Sydney is solely reliant on surrounding dams and rain for its drinking water. With Sydney’s growing population and uncertain rainfall predictions due to climate change, the New South Wales Government recognised the need for a new, non-rainfall dependent source of water to secure the city’s water supplies for the future.

Solution: Located in Kurnell NSW, the Sydney Desalination Plant is one of the world’s largest operating desalination facilities, with capacity to provide services to more than 15% of Sydney.

Veolia worked with John Holland in a joint venture (Blue Water) to design and build Sydney’s Desalination Plant on behalf of Sydney Water. Veolia is now operating and maintaining the plant and intake/outlet structures under a 20 year contract. Through leading technology, the plant can desalinate 250,000 megalitres of seawater each day, providing a drought proof water supply for approximately 1.5million Sydney residents.

The Desalination Plant was built specifically to high quality environmental and public health standards. Multiple safeguards protect drinking water quality and minimise the environmental impact of salty water outflows to the ocean.