Case of the month - Vitoria-Gasteiz



Vitoria-Gasteiz Green Inside, Green Outside                                              
Plan against Climate Change 2010-2020

Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain)

Municipality of Vitoria-Gasteiz


Implemented in 2010

Territorial scope

Target buildings  




Public buildings

 New buildings    

Private buildings
 Existing buildings
 Industrial, services, etc.

Main targets

  • Reduce the carbon emissions by 26% until 2020 when compared with the 2006 results;
  • Reduce the carbon emissions produced by the municipal services and its equipments by a minimum of 30% when compared with the 2006 results.

Green Inside, Green Outside is a complex programme divided between several categories - residential, services, internal mobility/transport, municipal services and facilities and waste management and urban cleaning – that influence all spheres of urban daily life, ranging from residential sector to industrial concerns, or transports’ systems to water and waste management services.

The policy programme reflects the visionary commitment of Vitoria-Gasteiz to become a greener city and a carbon-neutral zone in a long-term perspective, bringing a groundbreaking change to all the formed urban systems. 

Policy Development Context

The region of Victoria-Gasteiz has started its environmental concerns since 1995. From that year until today, the capital has developed many sectored initiatives following the principles of Agenda 21, strengthen the necessity to define future strategies of protection to natural resources, energy and water savings, reduce of solids waste, protection of biodiversity and sustainable transport for example.

In fact, the environmental concerns and future sustainability are persistent, since the major (around 65%) greenhouse gas emissions resulted from municipal consumptions were associated to industries and transports, as well as service sectors in 2006.

The different policies and programmes have been applied in close collaboration between local government´ departments and regional, national and international partners.

During 2006 the city council decided to launch a strategy plan against climate change to the period between 2006 and 2012, quantifying the territory carbon emissions and energy consumption, identifying its main sources of emissions, and creating after that actions to minimize it (a long side with others focused on each dimension, like “Air Quality management Plan 2003-2010”, “Local Energy Plan 2007-2012”, “Municipal Waste Management Plan 2000-2006”, “Municipal Waste Management Plan 2008-2016”, “Integrated Water Saving Action Plan 2004-2008” and “Sustainable Mobility and Public Space Plan 2008-2012”).

Then in 2009, the city council of Vitoria-Gasteiz was one of the first European municipalities to sign the Covenant of Mayors, perpetuating the goals defined in the European Objective to 2020 (on which one of them was the reduction by 20% of CO2 emissions). In the same year, the network of public buses was redefined (with a better offer and frequency of services) and received infrastructures to become a priority in the middle of local traffic. In parallel, were constructed more cycle lanes and offered a free bicycle loan service, the space to pedestrians circulate increased and there was an increment of hybrid vehicles circulation.

During 2012 around 703 companies decided to commit with more than 1000 measures to produce environmental step ups, establishing one more step to proportionate a saving of 56% of carbon emissions around 2020.

A multi-sectoral approach

The policy intents to interfere in all spheres of urban daily life, from residential sector to industrial, or from transports ´system to water and waste management process.

Buildings – There are specific parameterizations on buildings regulation in Vitoria-Gasteiz, many related with district heating and efficiency improvement in new and existing buildings. The new expansion areas of the city require bioclimatic designs for buildings and the execution of the new technology to reassure the proper utilization of insulation conditions and renewable energy installations. At same time, it is been prepared a certification to validate the future constructions with regulations about efficiency energetic mechanisms (renovation of condensing boilers in buildings, in addition of its central heating systems, replacing of outdated lightings systems, water saving systems, efficient electrical installations, green roofs, etc) in a promotion of a better planning with efficient criteria.

It is also required to new buildings to have the Energy Certification, mandatory for public housing since 2000. It is recommended the installation of solar panels in all public sector buildings but geothermal use of public buildings as well - (they can be found in universities, social and cultural centers, hospitals, etc).

Mobility - The policy is also directed to major concerns with sustainable mobility, since on its base is a new model of modal circulation with better and frequent distribution points between different transports. It already started with the introduction of 2 tram lines and the complementation of the available fleet with 17 new buses, following the changes done to bus stops and transfer points but there is much to be done. In other hand, the free bicycle loan service, the gradual grow of street only for pedestrians and limitations of traffic near the city centre are already helping to cut the greenhouse carbon emissions.

Water and waste management - There is the interest to make effective the productions of renewable electric power from the management of solid´s waste and the administration of water waste, as well as the investments on photovoltaic solar powers and solar thermal powers on roofs (both in public and private buildings), the production of geothermal energy and wind energy.  

Moreover all the actions taken in these major sectors plus others not discriminated will promote an improved management, the use of better technologies and equipments and the growing of collective conscience to the need of creating a sustainable future.

Successful results

Since the implementation of this programme policy, Vitoria-Gasteiz already reached the following results:

  • Reduction of 26% in water consumption between 2006 and 2012;
  • Increase 54% in public transports drives;
  • Annual savings of 162 million euros in health care costs due to the growth of walking and cycling fluencies;

In 2012, the city held the title of European Green Capital, and the environmental and climate efforts conducted since then have contributed to keep Vitoria-Gasteiz on the forefront of carbon-neutral cities.