City-Zen is a smart cities demonstration project, funded under the EU FP7 program. It focuses on energy efficiency in Amsterdam and Grenoble and puts a large emphasis on replicability.

The Grenoble demonstration site

The Amsterdam demonstration area


Currently, over 68% of Europeans live in cities and this number will rise. In 2050, it is expected that 80% of the world population will live in cities. The urban context areas is the place where the transition to renewable energy needs to be, based on a strong involvement of all stakeholders: industries, decision makers, knowledge partners and citizens. All infrastructures can play a role in a zero energy solution, but it all needs to be decided through transparent and cooperative processes. What is noticeable is that different infrastructures are today mixing, supplementing and even substituting for each other. And it isn’t just for domestic heat system and gas grids, but also for electricity, fuels, sewage, drinking water, ICT and solid waste. Integrating change and going beyond current practice to share skills, knowledge, and address today's and future needs are our primary goal.


To formulate innovative and effective answers to today's energy challenges, the project City-Zen has three major goals:

  1. Showcase ambitious pilot demonstration projects related to energy efficient retrofitting, innovative district heating and cooling networks and smart grids at the level of districts,

  2. Link cities and citizens' needs with industries, so they can develop innovative technology for the benefit of smart cities and citizens,

  3. Demonstrate effective planning methodologies and collaboration models between city stakeholders for the development of smart cities.


To achieve these objectives, City-zen will create and demonstrate:

  • A transparent cooperation model to enhance the transition towards the future integrated city through strong collaboration between local authorities, infrastructure owners, housing companies, universities and citizens,

  • Flexible and future proof infrastructure which invites and enables industries and citizens to innovate, co-create and work together on new zero energy solutions,

  • A series of innovative demonstrations in two districts, Nieuw-West in Amsterdam and Eco-Cité in Grenoble, including retrofitting, smart grids, bi-directional electricity grid, low temperature heating/cooling grid, cooling with raw water, and a multi-energy territorial monitoring system as well as citizens participation.


Innovation is at the heart of the project: now is the right time for large scale implementation of new solutions and smart urban technologies. For technology and process development, workshops supported by technology teams in the demonstrator cities, will be organised as part of the project to bridge the gap between innovation and implementation and to share material knowledge.


The success of the technology implementation also depends on the involvement of citizens. Accordingly, the project recognizes the key position of this group. They will be involved through user groups, and an advisory board with societal representatives is installed. A serious game will be created to engage citizens in an innovative way in the development of their smart city.


All these approaches match the ambitions of Amsterdam and Grenoble to be eco-friendly cities. Future cities, smart, open, with a high level of liveability and prosperity are no longer an utopia with City-zen!


Th!nk E

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