The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) has released a comprehensive ranking of Intelligent Communities ranked by their ability to create an environmentally sustainable community, one of the criteria of Intelligent Communities in the ICF Method.
The list ranks Intelligent Communities in our global data set using data on communities submitted from 2015 through 2019. This data is carefully weighted to balance the self-reported and third-party data of the Smart21 evaluation and the data from later stages of evaluation that is subject to onsite validation.
Sustainability is considered a success factor because it offers multiple benefits to the economic, social and cultural life of communities. Quality of life in a community is tied to the environment within the community, from air quality to water pollution. Communities must take action toward sustainability goals to improve their quality of life and protect themselves from harm – all while contributing to the health of the world.
Sustainability projects also engage the community and generate action. When communities make sustainability a goal, they energize community groups, neighborhoods and community leaders with the promise of making a difference. The work of these groups meets sustainability goals – but just as important, it strengthens the community’s identity and creates civic pride that powers more positive change.
Sustainability is also a growth industry. As the world rises to the challenges of climate change, new technologies, applications and entire industries are taking shape, and these represent employment growth opportunities available to almost every community. Click here to read more about Sustainability.
Communities completing ICF’s questionnaire have the option of requesting a detailed Metrics report comparing them on multiple factors to the Forum’s global data set on Intelligent Communities. See Community Accelerator for details.
The ICF Rankings: Sustain 2020 list is the latest publication in ICF’s By The Numbers series. It provides a useful guide to the relative strengths of communities in ICF’s network, and an inspiration for greater progress in coming years. Future By the Numbers rankings of Intelligent Communities will be released by ICF in the coming months.
1. Taoyuan, Taiwan
On Christmas Day of 2014, Taiwan lost a county and gained a city, when the county of Taoyuan changed to municipal status. Its proximity to the Taipei Metropolitan Area has led to major investments in such public utilities as Taiwan’s largest international airport and the 2017 Taoyuan MRT Airport Line, which speeds connections between the city’s high-speed rail station and the airport. These, in turn, have driven rapid development in Taoyuan City, which has attracted a large number of new residents from other cities and countries.
Taoyuan is the largest industrial science and technology city in Taiwan. More than one-third of Taiwan’s top 500 manufacturing industries have set up factories in Taoyuan. The industrial output value of about 2.87 trillion NTD has led all Taiwanese cities for 14 consecutive years. The population is a fusion of many ethnic groups such as Minnan, Hakka and Aboriginal people. Because of the industrial development, Taoyuan is also the municipality with the largest number of foreign workers from Southeast Asia and the largest number of Vietnamese new residents.
To build a sustainable future, Taoyuan City has been heavily investing in solar energy. The city leases roof space of public houses to establish solar generation systems, with 132 government-owned buildings outfitted as of 2017, generating a total of 12 million kwh of electricity annually. With the assistance of the Tatung Company, Taoyuan will be building 200 public housing developments with solar generation capacity, aiming to produce 20 million kwh of electricity per year.
The city is working with businesses to improve solar energy production as well. The Department of Environmental Projects in Taoyuan has introduced an energy service company to provide free installation of solar generation equipment on the rooftops of factories as well as public housing.
2. Montréal, Quebec, Canada
The largest French-speaking city in North America, the Montréal Metro Area is home to more than a tenth of Canada’s population. The region was hit by the decline of heavy industry in the Eighties, and launched a large-scale transition of its economy to ICT, aerospace, life sciences, health technologies and clean tech. Together, these clusters contain more than 6,250 companies employing about 10% of the workforce.
Montréal's Saint-Michel Environmental Complex (CESM) occupies some 192 hectares in the heart of the Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension borough. The site, which once housed the Miron limestone quarry, was converted into a giant landfill in the late 1960. The city acquired the site in 1984 and launched a project to transform it into a technological, environmental and sustainable complex in 1995. Since the project's launch, the Saint-Michel Environmental Complex has become a true environmental hub, including such facilities as a sorting center for all of Montréal's recyclables, a plant that converts landfill-produced biogas into electricity, a composting and wood-shredding site, multiple community gardens that host various educational and environmental activities and two major LEED-NC Gold-cerfitication-level buildings.
3. Espoo, Finland
In the far northern nations of the world, people tend to cluster southward. Espoo, Finland's second largest city, lies on the border of its biggest city and national capital, Helsinki. Both stand on Finland’s southern coast, directly across the Gulf of Finland from Tallinn, a frequent Top7 Intelligent Community and the capital of Estonia.
In 1950, Espoo was a regional municipality of 22,000, which drew its name from the Swedish words for the aspen tree and for river. Today, Espoo is still a place on a river bordered by aspen, and about 8 percent of its population still speaks Swedish as its first language. Sixty-five years later, however, it is an industrial city of 270,000. It retains its dispersed, regional nature, however, being made of up of seven population hubs arrayed along the border with Helsinki, where many of its citizens work.
The term “industrial city” usually describes a place where the needs of industry outweighs the needs of citizens for air they can breathe, water they can drink and a safe place to raise their children. Not so in Espoo. An international benchmark has named Espoo the most sustainable city in Europe. The city gives credit to an ongoing partnership among city government, residents, businesses, universities and other stakeholders. From 2013 to 2016, more than 100,000 people participated in sustainability events and city government launched 17 new sustainability projects in collaboration with partners and citizens.
One of the most remarkable things about Espoo is its recognition that, despite being Finland’s second largest city, it is a small player in a global economy. Espoo is a partner in the Six City Strategy, a cooperative policy uniting the six largest cities in Finland to tackle urban challenges. It focuses on open innovation, open data and open participation. The aim is to facilitate the development of smart city solutions by companies and to create an open market among the cities and companies that provides a nationally significant platform for innovation. Cities offer data while identifying their needs to better serve constitutions. Companies bring their tech expertise, market knowledge and corporate objectives to the partnership. Together, they make the opening up of data a natural part of city operation, while driving the creation of commercially viable applications and businesses. From 2014 to 2017, the municipal and corporate partners have launched 26 projects with a budget of 45 million euros, with an additional 55 million euros forecast through 2020.
4. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
The Golden Horseshoe is the region that bends around the westernmost end of Lake Ontario in Canada. At the center of the horseshoe’s curve is Hamilton, a city of 520,000 known for industry, education and cultural diversity, having the third-largest foreign-born population in the country. Located 70 kilometers southwest of Toronto (the 2014 Intelligent Community of the Year), Hamilton was once known as the Steel Capital of Canada, producing 60% of the nation’s steel. It is also a successful lake port city and operates an airport that saw passenger traffic grow tenfold from 1996 to 2002. A 30-year economic development plan begun in 2003 set the goal of creating a massive aerotropolis industrial park around that airport to capitalize on its success.
With a lack of new land for development, Hamilton has focused on remediation of industrial brownfield sites. Through an innovative program called ERASE, it offers financial incentives to companies to clean up and repurpose polluted sites. The city has approved hundreds of development grant applications worth more than C$20 million. Redevelopment underway has generated C$3 million in construction and created 650 jobs.
The city has also focused its efforts on cleaning and revitalizing the Hamilton Harbour with the help of the provincial and federal governments via the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan. Beginning in 1989, the city has built nine combined sewer overflow (CSO) tanks to capture untreated sanitary and storm sewage during storms to keep it from being returned to the water supply until treated. Hamilton has dramatically revitalized the shoreline through the Pier 4 Park and Bayfront Park developments in the West Harbour, transforming what was once an industrial landfill site into a beautiful recreational public space. The city is also currently working on wastewater treatment plant upgrades and a variety of other projects to fully restore and enhance the Harbour’s ecosystem, including commissioning a LEED-certified environmental laboratory at the Woodward Wastewater Treatment Plant.
5. Westerville, Ohio, USA
Westerville is a northeastern suburb of Columbus, capital of the state of Ohio, and home to nearly 40,000 people. It takes its name from the Dutch family that founded it in the 1800s. It was a small place that eventually became known as the “Dry Capital of the World,” based on an 1859 law that forbid the sale of alcohol in the city and the decision of the Anti-Saloon League – which played a leading role in Prohibition – to move its national headquarters there in 1909. It was only in the 1990s, when Westerville annexed land that included alcohol-selling businesses, that local prohibition began to change.
The municipal utility, Westerville Electric Division, got smart-grid applications that sparked the network’s construction. The utility’s operations date back to 1898, but since WeConnect went live, it has rolled out services including advanced metering and an online portal, which let customers monitor electric and water usage by the hour, and a Rush Hour Rewards Program, that offers rebates to customer who let the utility adjust their air-conditioning to better manage peak loads. Realizing that most energy-saving programs target large corporations, it introduced a Small BusinessWISE program that provides energy-efficiency consultants to audit small businesses and recommend changes that will save money.
6. Hudson, Ohio, USA
The 22,000 people of Hudson live in a green stretch of the state of Ohio midway between the cities of Cleveland and Akron. Despite the major industrial disruptions of the last 40 years, the region is relatively prosperous. Its economy rests on a mix of manufacturing (polymers, automotive, fabricated metals, electrical and electronic parts and aerospace) and services (transportation, health, insurance, banking, finance and retail). Such name-brand companies as Goodyear, Bridgestone, FedEx, Lockheed Martin, Allstate Insurance and JP Morgan Chase have headquarters or major facilities there.
Within the region, Hudson is a prosperous suburban city that provides talent to the region's many employers. Its population is highly educated, with 68% of residents over age 25 holding a bachelor's degree or higher, and relatively young, with a median age of 39. Median household income is in the six figures. Its downtown district is on the National Register of Historic Places. But like Intelligent Communities everywhere, it is a place in transition from one economy to the next. Hudson seeks to secure its future at a time when smaller communities without a distinct competitive advantage are seeing their human, economic and cultural assets drained away by bigger places.
The Leadership Hudson program introduces its citizen participants to local leaders in government, business and the community, and offers training in leadership. In addition to valuable networking and leadership development, the program offers each class the chance to develop a unique project to benefit the community. In 2014, the Leadership Hudson class partnered with the city-owned electric utility to install a Solar Education Center, complete with solar panels, at the Barlow Community Center. The class raised money for the project from local foundations, businesses and social organizations, as well as a crowdfunding effort that contributed 10% of the total raised. The money went to build a system with 55 roof-mounted and 10 ground-level solar panels, which now provide half the building's electricity and will save the city $100,000 in the next 25 years while reducing carbon emissions by 40 tons per year. Next on the agenda of the Solar Education Center is engagement with local schools to use data generated by the solar installation in STEM programs and in the Green Cup Energy Challenge, a national competition that engages more than 300 schools each year.
7. Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Toronto has both the assets and the liabilities that come with being Canada’s largest city. On the asset side is its diverse economy, with key clusters in finance, media, ICT and film production, and success as a magnet for immigrants that have made it one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Major carriers offer high-quality broadband to 100% of residents, and its five major universities and multiple colleges have attracted 400,000 students and helped ensure that Toronto has more residents with undergraduate degrees that London.
To reverse a trend of suburbs attracting away new and existing businesses, Toronto is doubling down on the value of a dense, superbly equipped and culturally rich urban experience. The centerpiece is Waterfront Toronto, North America’s largest urban renewal project, which is revitalizing 800 hectares of brownfield shoreline with 40,000 residential units, parks and one million square meters of commercial space designed to the highest environmental standards. Offering 1 Gbps fiber-based broadband– provided at no cost to the 10% of housing set aside for low-income residents – the Waterfront is expected to offer a home to 40,000 new jobs focused on knowledge industries. Early commercial tenants include the Corus Entertainment and the George Brown College Health Sciences campus.
8. Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
In colonial days, Fredericton served as the anchor of a vibrant regional economy based on trade with America's New England states. But over time, economic power gradually concentrated in the nation's geographic center, leaving the eastern provinces to become "branch office economies" dependent on decisions made elsewhere. It became so common for people to move west in search of economic opportunity that Frederictonians called it "goin' down the road."
Fredericton is the capital of the province of New Brunswick and public-sector employment shielded the community for many years from economic decline. Then in the mid-1980s, the Canadian Federal government began running large deficits and responded by offloading public costs onto provincial and municipal governments. By the 1990s, Fredericton found itself with a government that was too large, a private sector too anemic to support it, and a doubtful future.
Local government responded in 1992 with an economic development strategy called Vision 2000. It called on Fredericton to build an economy based on its unique human and economic assets, and to stop looking to others to save the day. The study itself was probably less important than the people who participated in developing it. They included city officials, university leaders, the Chamber of Commerce, real estate developers, the region's telecom firms, the hydro-electric utility and a representative of a small group of software investors.
The universities had long played a major role in Fredericton's economy and culture. The University of New Brunswick (UNB) is Canada's oldest English-language university and the first to create a computer science faculty and offer forest engineering programs. Saint Thomas University is Canada's only university focusing exclusively on teaching the liberal arts. The Maritime College of Forestry Technology is a business-government co-op that supports excellence in the management of one of Canada's most important natural resources. Through Vision 2000, the university sector began to engage in serious ways with both local government and the private sector. In 1994, UNB partnered with the city to develop the Knowledge Park, offering office space for knowledge-based businesses. The project plan emphasized quality of life with, in addition to office space, wooded areas, walking trails, and both daycare and pre-school facilities onsite. By 2007, the Park held three completed buildings totaling 90,000 square feet (8,360 m²) with a fourth 90,000 sf building under construction, and tenants included tech companies such as CGI, SkillSoft and Q1 Labs as well as the Wyndham hotel chain and the owner of the University of Phoenix, the Apollo Group.
9. Issy-les-Moulineaux, France
Issy-les-Moulineaux, a city just across the Seine from Paris, has an employment rate close to 96%. More than 75% of its companies are in information and communications technologies. Issy’s employers today field a workforce that is slightly larger than the city’s population, because so many companies have moved out of central Paris to take advantage of its infrastructure, business-friendly climate, lower local taxes and innovative services.
Issy’s strategy envisions an “innovation triangle,” with businesses as technology facilitators, citizens as the users and the government as the initiator and coordinator of projects. Through partnership agreements with companies like Microsoft and European Union programs like Living Labs, Issy has become a test bed for new technologies. In 2008, the European Network of Living Labs granted Issy the official title of “Medialand Living Lab of Issy-les-Moulineaux.”
One of the projects currently under testing in Issy’s Living Lab is So Mobility. The project aims to reduce traffic congestion, as Issy-les-Moulineaux lies next to Paris in the heart of a particularly dense urban metropolis. So Mobility’s priorities include installing traffic sensors to provide drivers with real-time traffic updates, developing new solutions for smart parking and testing new transport modes such as driverless shuttles and carpooling. As part of the project, Issy hosted an integrated mobility test in collaboration with the Colas, Cisco, Indigo and Transdev companies in 2017 to determine congestion and parking patterns produced by the Grand Paris Express autonomous metro project, which is currently in development. Three local startups also began offering efficient carpooling services in Issy in 2017, and the city has begun promoting such methods to many other companies in the area as a result of their success.
10. Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil
Urban planning works. That is the lesson of Curitiba, which has engaged in proactive planning for its future for nearly 40 years. While other Brazilian cities welcomed heavy industry, Curitiba accepted only non-polluters and developed an industrial district with so much green space that it was derided as a “golf course” until it filled up with more than 3,500 companies. Beginning in the 1970s, the master plan laid out streets, public transportation, shopping, industrial and residential areas. Today, clean water reaches 100% and sanitation 93% of the population, and the city offers a range of services still rare in emerging market nations: municipal healthcare, education and daycare networks, neighborhood libraries, and sports and culture facilities near mass transport terminals.
City buses travel in separate lanes from the rest of traffic and provide electronic ticketing for riders and fleet management via 3G mobile broadband. Curitiba's next goal is to translate its success in economic development into the broadband economy. An open access fiber network serves the city and much of the state, ensuring high levels of service to business. In keeping with Brazil's National Broadband Plan, the city is deploying a wireless overlay to provide free Internet access in low-income neighborhoods. The city has developed Curitiba Technoparque to turn the intellectual output of its 55 colleges and universities into innovative technologies.
Curitiba is developing multiple studies and projects to produce and implement clean energy in public buildings and public transportation. The city has installed a small hydroelectric plant in Barigui park to supply energy to the park, a project that will be replicated in other parks across the city. With the support of C40-CFF, the city is also developing projects to implement solar panels in four bus terminals and the new sustainable Caximba Neighborhood. The total expected generated power is 8 MW, with expected generation of 980,000 kWh/year (equivalent to the consumption of about 65,000 families). The Curitiba Housing Company is also currently implementing a pilot project to build social housing with solar panels.