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Multisensory Energy Garden
City/Region : Setúbal , Portugal

The Multisensory Energy Garden is a space accessible to everyone, which provides an interactive journey through the different renewable energies available on the planet raising public awareness on the issues about renewable energy and energy efficiency. Through equipment and information panels, it has six stations along the route, each one representing a source of renewable energy: Geothermal, Biomass, Energy from the sea, solar, water and wind. Space that promotes activities that stimulate the different senses in an integrated way: the tactile, the olfactory, the auditory, the visual and the gustatory, which allows people with reduced mobility or disabilities to visit.

Agendas addressed
Urban mobilityGreenfield land and natural spaceClimate change
Public space
Pathways followed
  • Ensure equal access to municipal services
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
Context
After the transformative action.

The garden has always been a place of transition and passage. However, it was not adapted to citizens with special needs, nor did it see its educational potential explored. To make the space more dynamic and inclusive and the arrangement of the different spaces in the garden, a program was developed to make citizens aware of renewable energies through the creation of stations alluding to renewable energies. The Multisensory Energy Garden was a sectorial project, financed by PEDU – Strategic Urban Development Plan. The main axis of this plan was Sustainable Urban Mobility, Urban Regeneration and Integrated Action for Disadvantaged Communities. Santos Nicolau neighbourhood is a traditional fishing community located between Port of Setúbal and uptown. This garden was part of the overall rehabilitation of this neighbourhood's public spaces, providing structural sewer and electric network improvements.

In Action
Before the transformative action.

Setúbal’s Municipality, aware of local action´s importance to fighting climate change has assumed a leading role in this matter in recent years. Has implemented a strategy aiming to raise awareness about climate change, its risk and impacts at an international, national and local level. The Municipality developed several projects: “Communication and Awareness in a Risk Scenario Associated with Climate Change”, the “Sustainability Briefcases”, the "Green Stamp - Environmental Quality Certificate of Setúbal Municipality", and a "Multisensory Energy Garden". This strategy reached the educational community, teachers, students and families, of different age groups and social backgrounds, having a big impact on public awareness regarding Climate Change and Sustainability. Setúbal’s Municipality implemented a communication strategy for climate change by creating the Setúbal em Bom Ambiente website favouring the public’s participation and knowledge spreading. Easily accessed by various devices, as a specific menu for kids with interactive games. Launched on June 5 2020, has had 19.000 views since. Within this online communication strategy, Setúbal also produced the film Setúbal adapts to climate change explaining climate change from a global and local perspective and Setúbal climate action. The movie was launched on January 8, 2021, and has 5,9k views.

The Sustainability Briefcases, a teaching support tool, with the following thematic contents: Zero Waste, Carbon Footprint, Arrábida’s Biodiversity and Water for All. The contents of the Briefcases also include didactic games, activity guidelines for the teachers, and activity sheets to be handed out directly to students. The ultimate goal of the Sustainability Briefcases is to raise children’s and young people’s awareness of sustainability and to cultivate new skills and behaviours that contribute to the environment’s preservation.

The Green Stamp is an environmental certificate awarded by the City Council, to promote and recognize good environmental practices implemented in schools, companies, parish councils and the associative movement. This certificate includes initial energy and environmental audit to identify good practice measures, as well as technical advice for its implementation.

The Multisensory Energy Garden is a scientific-pedagogical project: this garden is a space where you learn about renewable energies and energy efficiency with a beautiful landscape to Arrábida Mountain and Sado River. It has stations with interactive equipment’s that stimulate the discovery of renewable energies and awakens visitors’ different senses.

Results
After the transformative action.

One of the actions planned for 2020 was to start guided tours of the garden. However, due to the covid-19 pandemic, they were suspended, so the data collected up to March are not representative of space activity.

Even so, the space has been open during the successive lockdowns and accessible to non-guided visits. Recently has returned to hosting social and cultural events.

A dynamic, inclusive learning space with zero associated carbon emissions was created.

The materials used - the floor of the stations, garden furniture and the signs - are made of recycled material: recycled plastic, compressed, which imitates the texture of the wood and the large tree vegetation was maintained, the consolidation of slopes it was carried out using autochthonous species, and the sensory stimulation of the sense of smell was worked on with the implementation in different places of the flowerbed garden with aromatic plants.

Impact

This municipal project was built in partnership with the local community: ENA - Arrábida Energy Agency, that helped the municipality throughout all projects; the municipal group for disabilities helped designing a space that could be used for everybody and EDP – Nacional Electrical company -, offered an electrical wheelchair and the Polytechnic Institute of Setúbal provided technical support on the energy stations production.    

The Multisensory Energy Garden was a sectorial project, financed by PEDU – Strategic Urban Development Plan. The main axis of this plan was Sustainable Urban Mobility, Urban Regeneration and Integrated Action for Disadvantaged Communities. Santos Nicolau neighbourhood is a traditional fishing community located between Port of Setúbal and uptown. This garden was part of the overall rehabilitation of this neighbourhood's public spaces, providing structural sewer and electric network improvements.

This rehabilitation of the Santos Nicolau neighbourhood and the implementation of the Multisensory Energy Garden is a way to fight social disadvantage, promoting social inclusion. This intervention has attracted new investors to that area of the city, providing economic growth.

The Multisensory Energy Garden was built with interactive equipment dedicated to renewable energies, accessible also to people with disabilities. The municipal group for disabilities was consulted and played an important role in the architectural decisions about materials and design solutions to be implemented during construction. The garden was also rehabilitated to enhance its outstanding landscaping situation: it provides spectacular views of Setúbal city and bay and also to Arrábida mountain and the Sado river.

Challenges and lessons learned
Before the transformative action.

The challenges of the garden are the constant maintenance of the equipment, which is damaged due to acts of vandalism, which led the municipality to single out an employee who remains in the garden during the hours it is open to the public.

Even though there are still some problems with acts of vandalism, these have drastically reduced with the requalification of the space that was previously little-visited and explored for school activities, which made the place that many uses as a place of passage into an unsafe place.

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Contact

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
European Secretariat

Leopoldring 3
79098 Freiburg
Germany

Tel.: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 0
Fax: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 19

E-mail: info@sustainablecities.eu
Website: www.sustainablecities.eu

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