Wooded areas, geothermal energy, less combustibles, renewable energy. It is the recipe that, within just a few years, allowed Siena to become Europe’s reference point for sustainability and quality of life: 170,000 hectares of wooded areas, a geothermal production that covers nearly 90% of the energy needs, a progressive reduction in the use of combustible fossil fuels, and shift to renewable resources.
This is how the Tuscan province became the first wide area in Europe to be called a CO2 “zero emission” zone, that is to say, with the ability to completely absorb the polluting gases emitted into the atmosphere. Based on official statistics – recently released by the Province of Siena, which has an independent contractor certify the emissions – the percentage of carbon dioxide reabsorption has grown to 102% in 2011, compared to the 13% value at the national level, and the 6% average at the European level. Since 2006, when the first certified emissions totals were instated, the reabsorption rate has increased by 14 points. If Siena’s environmental context spontaneously presents some favorable characteristics – firstly the amply wooded lands, which have also grown in recent years; and secondly, the possibility to use geothermal energy, which represents a unique opportunity in Italy – a lot must also be said for the ability to provide incentives and sensitize the population on the use of energy sources: since 2006, the carbon dioxide emissions were reduced by 20%, the consumption of combustible fossil fuels (gasoline, diesel fuel, and natural gas) decreased by 19%, while the production of energy from renewable resources increased by 22%, enabling the province to sell 80,000 MWh (which are in surplus to the territory’s energy demands) to the national electric grid. In practice, the goals of the so-called European “20 20 20” plan – -20% emissions, +20% renewables, +20% energy efficiency by 2020 – were achieved.
From the green energy perspective, the strong push towards photovoltaic [solutions], regarding both small installations for SME’s and families, as well as for large structures, led to the creation of nearly 700 systems since 2008, thus increasing the number of total installations to more than 2,000 units. The actions undertaken to render the energy consumption of the real-estate assets more efficient and for the constant monitoring of heating systems were also efficacious, with nearly 90,000 certifications per year in the Province of Siena.