Bucharest and its sustainability
Edited by: Vanesa Manolachi
Gray Infrastructure in the City of Bucharest
Gray infrastructure consists of: buildings, transport infrastructure, energy production and supply, water supply, waste management, food supply. It represents the technological component of a city, ensuring its functioning.
The buildings in Bucharest
According to the National Institute of Statistics, 66.5% of the administrative surface of Bucharest is covered by buildings. For example, between 2010 and 2020, around 80,000 new homes were built, many of them in blocks of flats. Of the built spaces, most of them have residential function. They have a significant development and office buildings,many of these being built on industrial platforms scattered throughout the city of Bucharest.
There isthe trend of expansion of built spaces in restricted areas, green spaces or those where daily life would be difficult. Measures must be taken to be able to control this inappropriate development of built spaces, such as:
- increasing the level of information regarding the tools that the population could use for participating in decision-making, reporting non-compliance with the law;
- discouraging the expansion of built spaces without access to infrastructure; and
- encouraging the authorities to develop a transparent system for communicating information on construction permits and the content of town planning plans.
Energy efficiency of Bucharest buildings
The theme of energy efficiencyof buildings appears especially for newand especially private buildings. So a topic of great topicality is related to improving their energy efficiency. This implies increased attention to the planning and construction stage of new buildings in equal measure with the interest of restoring buildings. As a result, in the context of the European Green Deal, there is an important focus on energy efficiency and building renovation.
The analysis carried out for the Integrated Urban Development Strategy of the city of Bucharest 2021-2030, shows that in 2019the rehabilitation rate is 31%. For housing blocks, the Ministry of Development runs national programs to finance their thermal rehabilitation.
The rehabilitation of residential buildings, carried out without a correlation with the reconditioning of ventilation systems, leads to the degradation of indoor air quality. These buildings quickly fall into the category of buildings affected by sick buildings syndrome. This syndrome describes the situation of tenants who complain of discomfort as a result of spending a lot of time inside the building. In order to reduce the risk of this syndrome, public institutions must be encouraged to take it into account rehabilitation of ventilation systems.
In the case of the rehabilitations carried out at the blocks in the city of Bucharest, polystyrene and double-glazed windows were overwhelmingly used. Due to the existence of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), promoting projects that bring green solutions for residential buildings is a priority. This measure must be met to be able to bring to meeting SDG 11 and SDG 9. To be able to reach their fulfillment we can take other measures that could have a long-term impact. One such measure is, for example, providing support in the monitoring of rehabilitation works to signal irregularities regarding the quality of the works.
Also, the waterproofing of surfaces is a topic of great interest as 46.5%of the surface of the city of Bucharest is consideredcompletely waterproof. To this is added about 30%which registerslow and very low permeability. In order to be able to change the statistics, solutions based on increasing permeable surfaces must be promoted instead of promoting fake permeable green spaces. Also, the percentages of green spaces and permeable spaces imposed on the different categories of built spaces must be respected.
The impact of Civil Society in the Bucharest Neighborhoods
„Floreasca Civică” is a group of civic initiative in overseeing the way it is built in the neighborhood. He is actively involved in discussions with neighbors and the authorities against constructions on green spaces in the neighborhood. This is important to them as they have even initiated litigation to keep their neighborhood green.
„Cartier Aviației” NGO ran the “Green Roof” project, convincing tenants in three blocks of flats in the neighborhood to install green roofs. They also convinced the town hall to start a pilot program to install photovoltaic panels on 10 blocks in the neighborhood.
„Greeniniative” NGO opened the “GreenMogo” center, a green building with a roof garden, made on the principle of permaculture. The building, roof and garden were made with those interested in learning and are now used for education.
„România eficientă” is a project of the “Energy Policy Group” promoting energy efficiency. It achieves this goal through information, education and experimental interventions to increase the energy efficiency of schools.
The association “Save the Dămăroaia and Bucurestii Noi neighborhoods” participates in legal proceedings in cases of house demolitions and their replacement with block-type constructions.
In conclusion, gray infrastructure is an essential component that needs to be managed in a way that brings benefits on several levels. All components of gray infrastructure are important for ensuring the sustainability of the city. Ensuring effective management is a shared responsibility of public authorities, companies, NGOs and citizens.