Graz was chosen as the city of human rights and is the sponsor of the Europe prize. The old town of Graz and Eggenberg Castle have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999 and 2010 respectively. Since 2011, Graz has been part of the Creative Cities Network as a UNESCO City of Design. Other distinctions include:
- Human Rights City of Europe (since 2001)
- European Capital of Culture (2003)
- The most bike friendly city in Austria
As the provincial capital of Styria, Graz is exceptionally engaged in becoming a Smart City, as the life/work/leisure balance of its citizens has always been at the core of the city’s identity . To Graz, this means an energy efficient, resource-saving and low emission city guaranteeing the highest quality of life. With attention to parks and a healthy environment, more people are attracted to the Republic of Austria’s second largest city.
Graz is a pioneer in the transport & mobility sector as it values pedestrian zones, cycling routes and “was the first city in Europe to implement a speed limit of 30 kilometres per hour for the entire city, with the exception of major roads” (http://civitas.eu/city/graz).
Whilst taking strides in the energy, mobility and environmental areas, greatly boosting the quality of life with a successful sustainable development strategy, Graz still lacks in monitoring, data collection, and ICT vital to augment from a sustainable to a smart city. Infrastructural development rankings also illustrate room for improvement. In terms of the 6 smart city characteristics (standard), Graz performs exceptionally in Smart Mobility, Environment and Living, and should aim to make Smart Economy, People and predominantly Governance integral to future strategies.
The “Smart City Project Graz Mitte” (‘Mitte’ is German for ‘central’) strives to make the city center Zero Emissions by implementing urban technologies based on renewable energy and other integrated urban development initiatives with the vision to be a sustainable, livable and intelligent city by 2050. The specific targets are the lowest possible emissions and low resource consumption, using sustainable energy.
With a height of 60m and building surface of approx. 2.500m2, the so-called Science Tower is “Research Building for Urban and Green Technologies”, innovatively designed to simultaneously be an urban landmark. The building boasts avant-garde construction elements such as:
- a smart lift,
- a battery store for the production and supply of decentralized energy as the Science Tower functions as a zero-emission energy generator,
- a geothermal buffer in the sub terrain,
- Bio-energy booster for the energy network ‘Smart Grid’
- Transparent energy glass for biosphere, generating electrical energy by converting sunlight
One of the most spectacular features of the Science Tower is possibly the smart urban gardening and farming at the 13th floor, on the rooftop.