Eco Efficiency policy

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Main actors

City Government, Private Sector, Public Utility, Research Institutes / Universities

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Project area

Whole City/Administrative Region

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Ongoing since 2019

Building a sustainable city around the existing public transport system

The Eco Efficiency Ordinance for the Metropolitan District of Quito is a regulation approved by the Metropolitan Council.  It allows new buildings to have more floors if they are located close to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) stops and future Metro stations. The maximal number of floors allowed is established on the Land Use Plan. The Eco Efficiency Ordinance authorizes a 50% increase of floors in building projects located close to BRT stops and 100% increase for building projects close to a Metro station. To access these increases, the building project has to fulfill the requirements of the Eco Efficiency policy related to water and energy efficiency, technological, urban and environmental parameters. Finally, the builder has to pay the Municipality for the right to build higher, applying a formula under the concept of land value capture.

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Guangzhou Award

This project was shortlisted for the 'Guangzhou Award' in 2020.

Quito, Ecuador

Size and population development
With approximately 2 million inhabitants, the capital city of Quito is the second biggest city of Ecuador, after the coastal city Guayaquil. Its metropolitan district (MDQ) has approximately 2.7 million inhabitants. The MDQ extends 4,183 square kilometres, with a very low population density in comparison to other Metropolitan capitals of Latin American.

Population composition
The province of Pichicha, in which Quito is located, is home to around 140,000 indigenous people. The largest ethnic group identified by Ecuador’s national census are mestizo, a classification originating in the colonisation of the Americas. It refers to the children of criollos (Latin Americans of Spanish origin) and indigenous, although the term now simply means mixed ethnicity. This group makes up 80 percent of the population. The remainder is divided into various groups, the most significant being indigenous, largely speakers of Quechua; Afro-Ecuadorians, the dependents of slaves; and a small white population. There is also an immigrant population, with around 2% of the populous speaking a language other than Spanish or Quechua;

Main functions
San Francisco de Quito is the capital of the Province of Pichincha, and moreover the capital of Ecuador. Known simply as “Quito”, it is the second most elevated capital city in South America after La Paz, Bolivia, which stands at 2,580 meters above sea level and sits amid mountains and deep valley in the eastern Andes. The city is crossed by four tectonic faults, 192 ravines and is surrounded by 20 volcanoes, of which three are active. The Metropolitan District of Quito is 55% vegetation and is a recognized bio-diversity hotspot (Tumes-Choco-Magdalena). Moreover, Quito is known as a cultural capital, with its historic centre being a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site since 1978 because of its status as one of the least-altered and best-preserved central districts in the American continent. In recent years, there has been a noticeable influx of Venezuelan migrants who have fled their country due to internal struggles, and it has become a challenge not only to Quito but to the whole of Ecuador to manage their arrival, which amounts to hundreds of thousands. Ecuador has long been Latin America’s largest recipient of refugees, with the majority fleeting violence and repression in Colombia.

Main industries / business
Quito provides the highest percentage of Ecuador’s GDP. The main industries of Quito belong to three sectors: First, the city exports coffee, cacao, sugar, palm oil, textiles and bananas (Ecuador is the world’s largest exporter of bananas). Second, it is a popular tourist destination. In 2015, approximately 1.5 million international tourists visited the capital, largely from Colombia, United States of American and Perú. Tourism in the city is largely directed to places of Catholic heritage (churches, sculptures, etc.), museums, and to textile industry and night life scenes. Third, Quito is home to many big national and multinational companies, such as the nation’s biggest corporation Petroecuador. The city is the hub of the nation’s automotive industry and the headquarters of TAME, Ecuador’s national airline. According to Ecuador’s Central Bank, Quito receives significant remittance funds from the one million plus Ecuadorians living abroad.

Sources for city budget
Quito has a high rate of tax collection when compared to other capital cities in South America, with a 12% sales tax, a 22% corporate tax rate, and a progressive personal income tax rate that sites around 35%. The province which houses Quito has two types of budget, one designed according to the needs of the province, the Preassigned Budget of Income, and the second being used to fund the institutions, programs and prioritized projects, and it is paid for with federal funding.

Political structure
Quito is the capital of Ecuador, of the Province of Pichincha and the seat of the MDQ canton. It is governed by the Metropolitan Council made up of 21 council members. The front man of the council is the Mayor, who is both mayor of the Quito seat and of the Metropolitan District. The council is tasked with promoting the city, ensuring public services, tax collection, public and private transport regulation, and city development planning.

Administrative structure
Ecuador is a country that for administrative purposes is divided into provincias (provinces), cantones (cantons), and political parishes. Quito belongs in the Pichincha province, and in its form of Metropolitan District of Quito it is a canton. Quito, in its most local definition—equivalent to a parish—is the seat (centre) of the MDQ canton. The canton is made up of 55 parishes, and the urban parishes are what is known as Quito. The administration of all the parishes is handled by 9 administrative zones. In each of these, there is a council person assigned by the mayor of Quito in charge of managing the parishes within the zone. These zones were created to decentralize institutional arrangements and to manage civil participation.

Transportation is one of the main culprits of the ecological footprint in Quito. This situation is becoming worse with accelerated urban sprawl and increased real estate development in the peripheral rural and peri- urban areas. This forces residents to commute for long periods between their residencies and places of work. For this reason, the Municipality has introduced this policy that optimizes public transport and guides Quito towards being a more compact, diverse and efficient city.

The Eco Efficiency Ordinance for the Metropolitan District of Quito is a public policy of the local government. This regulation is framed by a national law of land use and land management planning.

The Municipality has developed this policy to transform Quito into a more compact and diverse city; especially in the urban areas directly influenced by the integrated public transport system. By encouraging urban development in areas where access to basic services is easily granted, the policy contributes to reduce urban sprawl toward rural and peri- urban areas. This instrument is the first approach related to environmentally responsible design in new buildings.

The Eco Efficiency policy starts from the principle of promoting a compact, multi-use and sustainable city around the existing public transport system. The environmentally responsible design parameters seek efficiency in the use of resources such as water, energy, as well as contributions in the fields of seismic, safety and bioclimatic design. This policy has provided new incentives for the construction sector to use environmentally sustainable technology and designs.

For each parameter of the Eco Efficiency model, a baseline of indicators has been created, based on the situation and availability of local technology.

The Eco Efficiency policy has 20 parameters divided into 3 categories: (1) Water Efficiency, (2) Energy Efficiency and (3) Technological, Urban and Environmental Contributions, each of them has 100 points. Each category establishes a baseline indicator that allows the Municipality to collect information related to the amount of rainwater collected and used, permeable soil area, diversity of uses, use of local material, waste management, implementation of bicycle parking, reduction of waste during construction, etc.

The initiative has also established incentives for the building projects that include provision of social housing. The buildings that allocated at least 10% of the total number of units as social housing are exonerated of paying tax on the extra floors. This incentive encourages offering affordable homes in strategically located areas for low-income people. To date one building has applied this model.

Building projects must also include urban design strategies that integrate the ground floor with the public space surrounding the building.

The initiative focusses on the areas that surround the public transport system of the city including the Bus Rapid Transit Lines (2 BRT) and Metro (1 lines).

The Secretary of Territory, Habitat and Housing is the public agency in charge of developing public policy around land use, habitat and public spaces and housing for the Metropolitan District of Quito. The main resources provided have been human, technical and managerial. The Secretary has a multidisciplinary technical team that has been working on these projects, for a long period of time. Currently, private companies accredited by the Municipality are in charge of reviewing the planning of Eco Efficiency projects along the 20 parameters defined in the Eco Efficiency policy.

Some of the main stakeholders that support the policy are the real estate sector, the academy and guilds such as the collage of architects of Ecuador. This includes professionals such us urban planners, architects, environmental engineers, economists and others.

To the date, 35 buildings have been approved using this policy. These buildings have contributed to the improvement of the environment through reductions in water usage  and energy consumption. One of the main outcomes for the Metropolitan District of Quito is the support for densification and consolidation of the city around the public transport system, reducing urban sprawl. Additionally, this public policy has been very well accepted by the private sector, generating significant income for urban development. In economic terms, these buildings have generated $10,669. 816,00 dollars for the Municipality under the concept on land value capture. Under this concept, the developer pays for the execution of a public work such as infrastructure, public services or facilities and other works related to public space.

These buildings mostly are mix use (retail, office and residential) with approximately 150 additional floors in total between all projects, benefitting the people who live and work in these buildings as they are close to public transport that facilitates their mobility and access to other services.

One of the main obstacles identified was the availability of information that allows establishing a baseline of each parameter that measures energy efficiency, water consumption and other technological and landscaping contributions. Fortunately, the construction of the baseline was formulated by academics and other public companies; they contributed their knowledge to establish the first Eco Efficiency baseline, which will be the indicator that measures the impact of the public policy in the future.

The policy offers green certifications that are very well suited to the particularities of the city. Through the payment of land value capture, the Municipality can invest in public works that had not been financed for years.

The Eco Efficiency policy has been shared with cities in other countries that can adapt this policy to their localities.

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Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation
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Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation

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