The label “eco-neighbourhood” refers to those urban environments prioritising both sustainable and ecological categories.

The main characteristic of such environments is that they seek to minimise the impact they produce on environment, which is produced due to human activity as well as the environmental work itself.

Eco- neighbourhoods need to meet a set of requirements, not only new-building constructions but also those in need of restoration:

  • Closing the water cycle, which is to say, collecting rainwater for its subsequent use, as well as making use of vacuum water trailers aimed to clean it up.
  • Saving energy, water and materials.
  • Incorporating nature into the town’s environment by promoting biodiversity.
  • Benefitting from climate advantages.
  • Creating an attractive and sustainable environment in which living and working.
  • Shortening town distances and connecting it with the city appropriately.
  • Distributing relevant spaces in order to provide basic services, which enhance residents’ lives.

Which measures a neighbourhood or city can adopt to become more ecological?

One of the first eco-neighbourhoods in Europe can be set as an example, Quartier Vauban in Freiburg, Germany. Its main characteristic is that 65% of electric power in service is produced thanks to the use of solar panels, which entails energy conservation to a great degree. The heating needed for the months of winter works due to a general plant supplied with photovoltaic panels and wood splinters, and accordingly, it is possible to reduce CO2 emissions up to 60%. Vauban’s residents can manage without their own vehicles since they have an extensive bicycle track network at their service, and all residences have bus or tramway stations nearby. On the other hand, vehicles are parked in the suburbs, thus reducing to a great extent the number of vehicles that circulate in the town streets.

In London, UK, we can find another example of eco-neighbourhood, Bed-Zed, a neighbourhood where energy consumption derived from fossils is non-existent thanks to the use of photovoltaic panels, crossed ventilation, green roofs, natural lighting, or to correct insulation of façades, doors and windows. It is by virtue of such initiatives that the use and consumption of ventilation and heating equipment can be almost zeroed out.

It is possible to find other exponents of green towns or eco-neighbourhoods in such places as Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm, Sweden, or in the Niewland Amersfoot, Holland.

An eco-neighbourhood needs to go beyond ecology and efficiency; it has to be a living entity, in which each and every resident cooperates to reach such sustainability standards, making the town in turn into an essential and intrinsic part of the city. Besides, eco-neighbourhoods are obliged to reduce CO2 emissions, as well as energies not contemplated as clean, urging upon the development of systems that enable to get clean and reusable energy, while at the same time our planet’s health or that of the people integrating it, is not damaged.