Green innovations are part of the city DNA
The common guideline for innovative practices was sustainability and promotion of the quality of life, which has been for over a decade our ultimate guideline in creating city policies and implementing urban solutions.
We are constantly looking for new solutions to urban challenges; we are actively communicating with our stakeholders, monitoring the activities around us and are intensively reacting to changes. At the centre of our attention are the citizens, we are growing together and developing the heartbeat of the city with higher quality of life in mind.
In Ljubljana we are putting innovation and live laboratory into practice. We are testing new concepts and reacting to initiatives from different stakeholder groups.
When results are promising and accepted by citizens we expand them into other parts of the city and are promoting them in intercity cooperation. Novelties are introduced in cooperation with many stakeholder groups emphasizing two-way communication and field work.
We are presenting selected innovation examples of how we have been promoting sustainable development and raising awareness among our citizens, colleagues and visitors to the city.
Ljubljana is faced with significant Japanese knotweed overgrowth, a plant on the list of hundred most invasive non-native species worldwide. With the aim of preventing excessive overgrowth of the plant and reusing it for beneficial purposes the City of Ljubljana in co-operation with the Pulp and Paper Institute, the waste management company Snaga, the University Botanic Gardens and the Re-generacija collective carried out a pilot project for producing paper out of Japanese knotweed. In voluntary field actions, together with the citizens, we have collected as much as 3,200 kg of plant material and produced 415 kg of paper out of it. After testing different methods of removing this invasive plant in the open-air laboratory, Ljubljana is among the first in the world to produce paper out of Japanese knotweed at a semi-industrial level. By doing so we tackled the problem of invasive non-native species in an innovative way aligned with the principle of circular economy. We produce paper bags, notebooks and city magazines. We are promoting this good practice in other cities and intercity meetings.
Together with a media artist an innovative monolith has been set up at a highly frequented location in the city centre measuring the blueness of the sky (it depends on the air particulate density) and the quality of air in Ljubljana, displaying the data to the passers-by. The cyanometer is an instrument for informing and raising awareness among the citizens about air quality as well as a monument and open-code programme periodically taking photos of the sky and loading them onto a website where the blueness is identified from 53 shades on the Saussure’s colour scale regard. This way a special archive and a retrospective calendar of shades of blue is created documenting changes in our environment. It displays the level of air pollution in real time. It is fully energy self-sufficient as it operates on solar power.
Ljubljana Sound Point
Excessive noise is a serious environmental problem. We have set up an interactive installation Ljubljana Sound Point to actively raise awareness among the citizens and visitors about noise pollution. A free-standing screen displays different topics on sound and noise, and by touching it one can listen to authentic sounds of Ljubljana at real volume, check the level of noise at any address in the city, move along the decibel scale and create rhythmical patterns using the sounds of Ljubljana.
The sound point is now set up at the entrance to the City Hall and is accessible to all visitors who we encourage to become aware of the city noise creatively.
I am what I drink. I drink water from the tap.
With numerous activities aimed at citizens we are stressing the importance of the quality of natural drinking water, promoting responsible use and tap water drinking. The public water management company VO-KA presented the neurofountain, an innovative device enabling the user to pour himself water with just his thoughts. It is based on neurotechnology measuring brain activity where the electromagnetic brain waves navigate the signal which regulates the flow of drinking water in the fountain. The response was outstanding, we successfully reached the goal of higher awareness.
Citizens are actively co-creating the city
The citizens are our core and most important public, and so we encourage them to actively co-create their city and bring to our attention different challenges, especially in the field of mobility, environment, culture, sports, health, social issues…
In addition to using established communication channels (e-mail, phone, social media…) they can go on the Citizens’ Initiatives interactive platform and to the Information Office 65+, and during the Mayor’s Open Doors Days held twice a month (8 to 10 hours a day) they can come with their proposals – so far the mayor has personally met over 25,000 people (9% of all citizens).
This way it is easier for them to identify with the city, they are included in the activities and they feel that they themselves can contribute to greater quality of life. By implementing their best proposals we are motivating them to be sensitive to their environment, making the city even more »theirs«. At the same time the city leaders are using open dialogue to get important feedback on the needs, wishes and problems directly from the field.
Best Apartment Building
At a citizen’s initiative we launched the Best Apartment Building campaign encouraging residents of apartment buildings to actively contribute to clean, well-managed and environment friendly co-living.
All 17 district communities were included in the campaign and a specially formed jury using predetermined criteria chose the winning apartment building among 16 finalists. The winner was announced by the mayor personally at a publicly held event. Due to the great response the campaign is going to continue as it efficiently motivates residents to cooperate and take care of the environment.
Bicycle park KoloPark – innovative recreation
At the initiative of a citizen and a cycling association we turned a brownfield area (neglected parking lot of 905 m2) into a recreational area – pumptrack, intended for developing skills using different vehicles from bicycles, kick scooters, rollerblades and rollerskates to push cars.
As a test area the project has been very well received by the citizens, the area is in full use, and so this year we are expanding this good practice case into other district communities at the proposal of citizens and recreational athletes.
Slovenia is the only European country where the native bee is protected and as it is endangered, its preservation is very important. Due to the high quality of our environment, bees, a part of rural areas, inhabited also urban centre of Ljubljana. Chemical analysis done in reference laboratories have shown that the honey in Ljubljana is safe and free of pesticides.
The citizens of Ljubljana are interested in urban beekeeping and so we carried out many innovative activities (with 32 partners: the University Botanic Gardens Ljubljana, the Biotechnical Educational Centre Ljubljana, private companies, Ljubljana’s faculties, the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum, social companies, NGOs, primary schools, beekeepers…).
We are actively informing our stakeholders about the city’s vision and development strategies
The basis for successful introduction and dissemination of innovative practices is active external and internal communication.
We are actively informing our stakeholders about the city’s vision and development strategies, and they can participate. We are updating the public on operative goals, announcing projects with clearly set dates, so they can easily determine whether their initiatives are in line with the city management policies. Open communication is strengthening the trust of citizens and their support for projects entailing a change in set habits and introducing novelties.
We are giving young companies the option to test their ideas in the real environment and disseminate them to other cities.
Stakeholders’ proposals are discussed and evaluated at the Mayor’s weekly board together with the heads of departments and city companies. For acceptable ideas we estimate the resources needed, set implementation dates and appoint project leaders. After the implementation we evaluate the project’s effect. The key for success is open organisational structure based on interdisciplinarity and fast information flow.
The EGC2016 project provoked positive competition among city employees as to who will propose a better idea with a favourable impact on the environment, with the important role of city leadership promoting innovation and experimentation.
For the implementation of the year-long EGC2016 programme (11.1.2016 - 2.1.2017) we designed two unique green pavilions with the Riko company and set them up at a central location in front of the City Hall. We carried out over600 events for all stakeholder groups (17 district communities, public companies and institutes, kindergartens and primary schools, NGOs, start-ups, companies, education and research institutions…). We recorded close to 34,000 visitors of all generations from Ljubljana, Europe and other parts of the world, even those most far away.
At the Point.For you. we organized workshops, counselling, fairs, exhibitions and educational programmes to raise awareness about sustainability and encourage citizens to change habits and adopt environment-friendly practices. Special attention was given to the youngest who then transferred new knowledge to their parents. All events were admission free to ensure accessibility to all.
The pavilions were innovative and sustainable – wooden construction with a green roof, green walls and infrared panels. They were accessible to movement-impaired people. The wooden furniture was modular, easily adapted to the event type, so there was no need to switch it. In the city centre, which is closed to motor traffic, we offered free-of-charge rides with the Kavalir electric vehicles – no noise, no emissions. Information was displayed on electronic paper and the pavilions were decorated with typical Slovenian plants to promote biodiversity. In special campaigns we gave the plants to citizens and promoted planting them on their balconies. At the end of the project we donated the pavilions to a cycling association where they continue their mission to promote sustainable mobility and recreational activities.
Electric car sharing
Together with the company Avantcar we introduced a 100% electric car sharing project. Full system services (reservation, unlocking the vehicle, starting the engine, final payment) are provided via the Avant2Go mobile app. With each kilometre users are saving 100 g of CO2 emissions, by renting instead of owning a car they are reducing mobility costs and they are traveling without causing harmful emissions and noise. In addition, we are constantly expanding the electric charging station network in the city. The new form of sustainable mobility has been very well received by citizens and visitors, and other Slovenian as well as Croatian cities are now introducing it as an innovative practice.