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What is urban regeneration? Definition and meaning

Urban regeneration is an approach to city planning to repair the social and economic problems of an urban area, improving the physical and environmental aspects of the city, as well as the buildings. Urban renewal aims to transform obsolete or blighted areas into economically productive areas of a community.

So what does urban regeneration mean in practical terms? It means an overall plannings and vision for cities oriented towards energy efficiency and social inclusivity. It is designed to bring back underutilized assets and to redistribute opportunities, increasing urban prosperity and quality of life, however these initiatives are complex, lengthy and run the risk of gentrifying private space or privatizing the public one.

Urban renewal is intended as a process of slum clearance and physical redevelopment taking account of other elements such as heritage preservation; while urban regeneration is a comprehensive integration of vision and action aimed at resolving the multi-faceted problems of deprived urban areas in order to improve their quality of life.

 

Types of urban regeneration

What is the relationship between urban regeneration and smart cities? A smart city is an intelligent city that integrates digital technologies into its networks, services and infrastructure. It means smart urban transportation networks, more efficient ways to light and heat buildings and upgraded water supply and waste disposal facilities. It also means a more interactive and responsive city administration and safer public spaces. Circular cities are more livable and create economic savings while reducing pollution. Enel X, by helping cities to rethink their buildings, aims to turn every public building into a Smart Building, contributing to a zero emission vision.

 

There are three types of urban regeneration:

  • Economic
  • Social/cultural
  • Environmental

 

An example of environmental urban regeneration is the project developed by Enel X in the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, in Spain’s Basque Country, thanks to the energy optimization and maintenance of 42 public buildings. Interesting urban regeneration examples, showcasing the complexities of the issue, are cases of urban economic regeneration in the United Kingdom.

 

Why is urban renewal important for Enel X?

What is meant by urban renewal is a set of plans and activities to upgrade neighborhoods and suburbs that are in a state of distress or decay. One positive instance of urban renewal is a project developed by Enel X in Linares, Chile where Enel X has installed 9,000 LED lighting units, leading to significant savings. The new lighting system, which has a useful lifetime over three times longer than its predecessor’s, has enabled the Chilean city to cut energy consumption by 63%. Enel X, thanks to its expertise, was able to significantly reduce light pollution and savings.

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