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edition 3 (208)
March 2016
Green projects

Green is the new black

Interviewer: Eurobuild CEE

Green is the new black
Warsaw mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz

According to various estimates, as much as 40 pct of Warsaw is covered by green areas: parks, woodland, squares and, of course, the undeveloped Vistula river bank in Praga district – a wildlife refuge unparalleled in other large European cities. Will the capital’s authorities be utilising this in any particular way in the near future?

Warsaw mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz: Indeed, Warsaw is green. It has a total of 12 reservations, 27 forests and 95 parks. Greenery is one of Warsaw’s greatest assets and we are taking action aimed at retaining its unique character. We are applying for the title of the Green Capital of Europe 2018 and our application has already been positively assessed. Our assets include low-emission public transport, water i.e. supplying citizens with drinkable tap water, comprehensive sewage treatment, and biodiversity, i.e. above an average diversity of plants and animals within the city limits.

Coming back to utilising the potential of the banks of the Vistula, the city has already spent substantial amounts on the revitalisation of the river zone. What else are you planning?

Over the last few decades Warsaw has undergone radical changes in terms of adopting an eco-minded approach. The long-awaited return of the city to the Vistula is of particular importance here. For many years the city has been moving away from the river and extending ‘outwards’. Now the riverbank is blossoming thanks to the ‘Vistula District’ revitalisation programme for 2014–2020. This strategy involves extensive redevelopment of the left Vistula embankment and a network of cycle paths with a length of over 30 km, which stretches along the river on both its banks (forming part of more than 430 km of cycle paths in Warsaw). Port Czerniakowski is undergoing a revival, while Port Praski provides the city with the possibility of moving its ‘centre of gravity’ closer to the river – to its right bank. It should be pointed out that the right bank features unique wildernesses that are home to protected bird species. The area is included in the Natura 2000 programme and residents are increasingly becoming users of the pedestrian and cycle paths as well as the city beach. We have spent about PLN 140 mln on returning the river to local residents and we are planning to spend around PLN 260 mln more on new sections of the embankment, among other similar projects.

Public transport is another field in which the city can introduce environmentally friendly measures. Will Warsaw be replacing its fleet of buses with a more environmentally friendly one?

This makes undeniable sense considering the scale of the city. Our bus fleet includes ten electric buses, four hybrids and there are plans to buy over 130 low-emission buses over the next few years. We will also extend the metropolitan rail system – that is, the trams and the municipal railway, including the further extension of the second line of the underground. Warsaw is focusing on the reduction of exhaust fumes, particularly CO2 as well as harmful nitrogen compounds, by encouraging citizens to use Veturilo city bikes. And this policy has been effective. The numbers of bike rentals has increased every year – in 2015 there were over 2 mln of them. Furthermore, we are planning to launch a low-emission car rental service in Warsaw, following the example of Western European cities.

The city’s website offers the option of downloading an ‘Energy Calculator’ application, which can be installed on smart phones. What is the idea behind this?

The ‘Energy Calculator’ application, which has been developed by the city, makes it possible to check online the energy class of city buildings as well as calculate the potential savings from e.g. updating heating systems or the installation of fittings for obtaining energy from renewable sources. Interactive sun exposure and low-temperature geothermal maps are also part of this service. So in conclusion we can see that modern Warsaw is now a delightful place. I invite everyone to check it out for themselves. It is also a friendly place in terms of everyday living. And it will also be a pleasure for us to be your host at the Warsaw stall at the MIPIM real estate investment fair in Cannes.

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