Izmir Transformation Office

Izmir Transformation Office

Background Information
In 2021, the collaboration between the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality and the World Bank Group (WBG) initiated a Smart City Technical Assistance Project.

The WBG smart city strategy project – in place from mid-2021 through 2022 – aimed to propose a holistic strategy for shaping a new model of urban living in Izmir.

Key milestones of the project were the July 2022 Izmir Leadership & Stakeholder Workshop, the November 2022 WBG Barcelona Smart City Workshop (with Amman) and Mayor Soyer’s decision to locate a “city transformation unit” within the Izmir Planning Agency (IZPA) as an output of the project, hereafter named as Izmir Transformation Office.

Izmir's innovative and forward-thinking approach is evident through its initiation and execution of international programs. These include the Citta Slow Neighborhoods Program, Alliance for Cities with Circular Culture and the EU Climate-Neutral Smart City Mission. Each of these programs are closely associated with the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Strategy for 2020-2024 and other supplementary policy, strategy and planning documents.

Building on these strategies, the WBG smart city strategy project brought in the potential of digitalization to support metro-wide step-change.

Izmir Transformation Office of IZPA is the key output of the WBG smart city strategy project. The office will act as a city transformation unit facilitating integrated, systemic and agile city development, as defined in the final report of the WBG project. Izmir Transformation Office will also align and connect long-term planning intentions through to ongoing city operations. The office is responsible to pursue the outcomes of the project facilitated by WBG.

The vision of transforming Izmir into a city with a new model of urban living has three means:

  1. Transformation of citizen behaviors - from co-ideation to co-management
  2. Transformation of spaces – critical infrastructures and city services
  3. Transformation of technologies – the digital potential

Transformation of citizen behaviors and spaces are considered under Imece Izmir Program and Ecosystem Izmir Program of IZPA, respectively. Izmir Transformation Office focuses exclusively on transformation of technologies.

In its pursuit of proactive measures, Izmir Transformation Office adopts the Demonstration Areas approach. These areas will be the lighthouses that help guide the way forward for the entire city and mirror the future of Izmir at the present time. 

Individually, these neighborhoods will be very different. Collectively, they will provide the proof points to show where change can be tackled in a common manner and how to accommodate differences. Through implementing practical measures collaboratively within these neighborhoods, other parts of Izmir will be able to see how best to build these solutions into their unique local contexts.

These neighborhoods will adopt a number of common principles that comply with the four pillars of circular culture:

·   Citizen-centered
·   Nature-based
·   Circular resource-sensitive mindset
·   Inclusive and resilient
·   Innovation at the core
·   Embracing fundamentally different models of infrastructure and services (mobility, energy systems, etc)

The practicalities of the approach and the solutions that adopt such principles will be tested and evidenced through these demonstration areas, for later scale-up.

Demonstration Areas
Under the WBG Smart City Technical Assistance Project, we have identified six demonstration areas. They include a sufficiently wide spectrum of Izmir neighborhood types relevant for any other locality. As such, solutions that are proven in the demonstration neighborhoods are far more likely to be openly adopted by other communities in Izmir.

The selected neighborhoods are listed below and shown in Figure. 

1.     Highly Urbanized Areas (North & South)
2.     Low Emission Zone 
3.     University (North & South) 
4.    EXPO Area 
5.     Bus Terminal Zone 
6.    Historical City Centre 

Figure: Candidate Demonstration Areas

The neighborhoods were selected through a number of working sessions based on some core features and characteristics as indicated below:

  • Manageable and relevant scale – population, consistency, natural boundaries, sector focus
  • Diversity and inclusiveness
  • Circular culture potential
  • Outdoor living
  • Sustainability and resilience 
  • Slow philosophy and smart thinking

The demonstrations will deliver visible evidence of the benefits to society and to investors, which will build confidence for broader adoption. Capture and scaling of common packaged solutions will de-risk subsequent investment, and ensure higher quality, more reliability, and investible propositions, with shorter implementation timescales. It will provide a deeper understanding of how best to tailor solutions for successful adoption in each subsequent unique location.

The six areas represent 5-10% of Izmir (area / population), so scale-up actions provide a very extensive future series of major investments.

The Izmir Transformation Office, operating under the Izmir Planning Agency (IZPA), will create space for a collaborative effort among different departments of the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality as part of this program. This office holds the responsibility to foster cooperation with various units within the Municipality, as well as other relevant organizations in Izmir, with the overarching goal of seamlessly executing the comprehensive investment portfolio.

While the actions of the program are primarily concentrated within the six designated demonstration areas, it's important to note that their scope may extend beyond these specific locations. Some actions may also take place in other localities, if and when these areas offer stronger demonstration potential for a specific investment. Wherever possible, investments are closely linked to priorities and actions of other three programmes of IZPA.

Izmir Transformation Office comprises the following technological transformation projects

Smart Energy-Efficient Buildings
This program covers the use of energy-efficient building technologies in Izmir. These include Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE), Building Resilience Index (BRI), and Advancing the Performance of Buildings and Cities (APEX).

EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) is a global green building certification system, empowering architects and builders to create sustainable, energy-efficient structures. Developed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), EDGE evaluates environmental performance, considering factors like energy, water, and materials. It provides a clear pathway for greener construction, advancing global sustainability.

The Building Research Institute (BRI) is a research-focused institution dedicated to advancing the field of sustainable architecture and construction. Operating at the forefront of innovation, BRI conducts in-depth studies, disseminates knowledge, and promotes best practices in the realm of energy-efficient building design and construction.

APEX, which stands for Advancing the Performance of Buildings and Cities, is an influential platform that gathers experts, policymakers, innovators, and stakeholders to discuss and showcase advancements in sustainable building practices and urban development. APEX Presentations are particularly highlighted at the Conference of Parties (COP). These presentations serve as a spotlight on cutting-edge ideas, technologies, and strategies that have the potential to revolutionize the field of sustainable construction.

As the city of Izmir continues its journey towards a more sustainable and energy-efficient future, these initiatives, and platforms play a pivotal role in shaping the narrative around smart energy transformation. By harnessing the power of knowledge, innovation, and collaboration, the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality sets an inspiring example for other regions to follow in their pursuit of more resilient urban environments. To achieve this, a Sustainable Building Guide is being prepared by the Department of Surveys and Projects. Furthermore, smart energy transformation of buildings is going to be tested in Demirköprü (one of the Citta Slow neighborhoods of Izmir) and at selected Halk Konut Projects of the Municipality.

Smart Lighting Poles
LED conversion of lighting poles in İzmir is carried out by GDZ Electric, a private contractor responsible for energy distribution and maintenance. However, this conversion process is advancing slower than expected. Therefore, a LED Conversion Lobby Report that is going to be prepared by the experts of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality.

It is crucial to diversify the data sets collected by the municipality, correct the erroneously compiled data and update the existing data sets. Accordingly, it will be possible to deliver urban services with a comprehensive decision support system. This process will also accelerate the completion of the digitalization infrastructure creation processes currently underway in different units of the municipality.

To this end, LED conversion of lighting poles will also be supplemented by the use of sensors in lighting poles. This technology will be tested at selected major green areas of Izmir. The Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) project led by the Sustainable Transportation Planning Branch Directorate could serve as a basis to replicate this pilot initiative.

Natural Green
The Natural Green initiative is leading the way by embracing the indigenous flora of the Mediterranean and the Izmir Region, effectively replacing exotic plant varieties in the city's green spaces. By strategically introducing native plant species into our parks and gardens, we're not only fostering a harmonious connection between the city and its local biodiversity but also cultivating functional ecosystems within our urban environment. Commencing in 2021, a transformative process is underway, wherein the tree species initially planted in Izmir will gradually transition into fully integrated components of the natural plant ecosystem.

This approach doesn’t just redefine the city's aesthetics or bolster its commitment to environmental awareness; it also brings substantial economic benefits. By opting for plant species that are adapted to the local climate and do not require constant irrigation, we are significantly reducing water consumption and related costs. The use of water-efficient flora aligns seamlessly with our resource-conscious strategy, ensuring that our green spaces thrive without imposing an undue burden on the city's water resources or budget. This holistic perspective not only enhances the ecological vitality of our urban areas but also underscores the undeniable link between environmental preservation and fiscal responsibility.

Circular Waste Management
The “İzDönüşüm Project” was initiated in September 2022 with the objective of establishing a waste management system rooted in the principles of a circular economy in Izmir. The project involves collaboration with eight district municipalities: Karşıyaka, Karabağlar, Buca, Narlıdere, Bornova, Bayraklı, Çeşme, and Menderes. The project's primary objective is to collect and separate urban waste at its source for efficient recycling and reuse. Between January and June 2023, approximately 1,977 tons of waste were collected. The collected amounts gradually increased due to expanded personnel, equipment, and the addition of new districts.

The IzDönüsüm project aims to contribute to a balanced wealth distribution in Izmir by employing waste collectors and recycling center workers. By collaborating with recycling factories, adopting innovative sales approaches, and increasing the variety of recycled products, the project strives to improve operational efficiency and foster environmental consciousness among Izmir's residents.

The IzDönüsüm Project holds a significant social impact beyond its environmental benefits. By providing employment opportunities for individuals, the project contributes to poverty alleviation and economic empowerment within the community. The transition from informal waste picking to formal waste management not only improves the livelihoods of waste collectors and recycling center workers but also ensures safer and healthier working conditions. This shift helps elevate their overall quality of life and well-being.

Furthermore, the project promotes community engagement and awareness through educational campaigns, encouraging residents to adopt proper waste separation and recycling practices. This not only enhances waste management but also cultivates a culture of environmental responsibility and collective action. Collaborations with local cooperatives and businesses strengthen community bonds and foster a sense of ownership in the project, leading to more sustainable and inclusive development.

In summary, the İzDönüşüm Project showcases how sustainable waste management initiatives can be a catalyst for positive social and ecological transformation while establishing the principles of a circular economy. By intertwining environmental and social considerations, the project serves as a model for responsible urban development that not only benefits the environment but also enhances the overall quality of life for all community members involved.

Circular Water
As a key partner, IZPA assists Izmir Water and Sewerage Administration (IZSU) to make Izmir a leading example of circular water management. 

As a major example of circular water use, the integration of a recovery unit at the Çiğli Wastewater Treatment Plant is underway to produce high-quality reclaimed water from wastewater. This recovery unit is a key component of the Living Bay of Izmir Strategy and it will act as a major freshwater source to rehabilitate the wetland ecosystem of Gediz Delta Ramsar Site where the Çiğli Treatment Plant is located.

Furthermore, the Sponge City Izmir project, launched on December 26, 2022, by Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, marks a pioneering initiative in Turkey both in terms of content and concept. The project aims to introduce a new rainwater management model integrated into the existing infrastructure based on an analysis of the city's current water systems. It envisions a water-focused circular green transformation in Izmir, collecting, storing, purifying, permeating, and reusing rainwater like a sponge across the city's streets, roads, alleys, streams, roofs, gardens, and impermeable surfaces. The project's primary objectives include managing sustainable rainwater flow and addressing challenges posed by climate change, droughts, and floods.

The Sponge City Izmir project aims to transform Izmir into a sponge city within five years, planning to reduce urban rainwater flow by 70% within this timeframe.

To facilitate rainwater collection and management, the Sponge City Izmir Project and Technical Implementation Guide was introduced in January 2023, during a meeting attended by the municipality's technical departments, initiating steps for its application across all municipal units.

As part of the project's rainwater harvesting efforts, a campaign was launched on December 26, 2022, to provide incentives for installing 5,000 rainwater storage tanks and 10,000 rain gardens in buildings across İzmir. The project also focuses on community involvement, such as the Rainwater Depot initiative in the village of Bademler, emphasizing the importance of water conservation and sustainable practices.