Circular cities: decarbonization and beyond

During the last edition of Re-Think in Milan, Luca Meini, Head of Circular Economy at Enel, spoke about circular cities, smart cities and renewable energy, focusing on decarbonization and on what Enel is currently doing.


He highlighted the company’s focus on cities, and more specifically on the topic of circularity: he said that this vision has been developing in the last 4-5 years.


Cities are always facing many challenges, old and new ones, related to the role they can play at the global level. A key new aspect is climate change, and another one is the pandemic: these events clearly challenged the role of cities and what they have to offer to citizens. In fact, the virus has somehow accelerated the discussion on the role and the future of cities, as well as the understanding of how to evolve and keep being a reference point for people.


As a consequence, there have been different visions of cities:

  • the zero-emission city, focusing on the emission side and trying to avoid all of them;
  • the resilient city, which focuses on facing shocks and planning natural-based solutions;
  • the 15-minute city, which provides the opportunity for citizens to have all the services they need within a 15-minute walk.
  • the smart city, which refers to the role that digital solutions can have in the city transition;
  • the circular city, a vision that has emerged in the last 2-3 years, has been conceived as a wider approach to all the sectors, focusing on the design of the city.


Focusing on the circular city vision and decarbonization, it has started to be used in Europe and is included in the circular economy action plan of many cities, such as Amsterdam and Milan. However, it is becoming popular also outside Europe: for instance, in the Latin America region where Enel is quite active, a regional initiative named “Declaration of Circular Cities” has been implemented.


After that, Luca Meini focused on some of the initiatives and actions that Enel is performing throughout many of its services in business: it goes from renewable plans to smart meters, smart grids and connectivity.


Moreover, there is a part of Enel’s services related to knowledge about citizens, like City Analytics and the Circular City Report, that is supported by technology such as electric vehicles, energy efficiency and public lighting. This means relying on real-time big data monitoring to measure and improve city dynamics.


The same can be applied to mobility within the city, the recurrent flow of people during the day and to the condition of traffic and streets. All these city analytics are supporting tools for institutions to take proper decisions and interventions.

In addition to that, Enel developed open data solutions for all Italian municipalities, that implement the 15-minute City Index and the Circularity Index. In addition to that, Enel developed open data solutions for all Italian municipalities, that implement the 15-minute City Index and the Circularity Index.


The 15-minute City Index is the implementation of the vision of a 15-minute city, assessing for each district of the city the distance between the citizens and the key services that they may need, understanding what can be achieved in about a 15-minute walk and what is instead out of reach. It can be seen as an innovative approach and a real implementation of the vision that can be a useful tool for municipalities.


The second tool developed by Enel is the Circularity Index, available online for free: it measures a set of indicators related to the city like waste, mobility, digitization, etc. to provide an overall vision of city circulation, and assess how it is now performing and how to improve.


Enel, Luca Meini concluded, is addressing the issue of the circular cities starting from the overall view, down to quantitative analysis and to services and products: by now they are carrying this out in Europe, in North and South America, and in the future they plan to expand in other continents as well.


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Francesco Castellano

Francesco Castellano holds a Master degree in Business Administration, and he has gathered almost twenty years of experience in research, finance, consulting, and business management. During this time, he was engaged in different types of projects as a consultant at Bain & Company, launched Uber operations in Turin, and worked in the FP&A department at General Electric.Lately, he founded To... Read more

Francesco Castellano holds a Master degree in Business Administration, and he has gathered almost twenty years of experience in research, finance, consulting, and business management. During this time, he was engaged in different types of projects as a consultant at Bain & Company, launched Uber operations in Turin, and worked in the FP&A department at General Electric.

Lately, he founded Tondo, a cluster of organizations focusing on spreading Circular Economy approaches and concepts, and supporting companies in the transition to a clean and circular future. Francesco is also the ideator and coordinator of the Re-think Circular Economy Forum, a format of events organized in many different locations in Italy showcasing the most relevant Circular Economy solutions.

Francesco has been a guest speaker at different universities and events, like Federico II University, Bocconi University, LIUC - Cattaneo University, Pavia University, Padua University, Catholic University, IPE Business School, 24ORE Business School, Campus Party, Torino Stratosferica, Visionary Days.

Francesco is passionate about Circular Economy, Cleantech Innovations, Venture Building and Entrepreneurship.