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Environmental Local Authorities InterBalkan Network - ELAIN
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The municipality of Rijeka
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The municipality of Rijeka, Croatia

 The City of Rijeka

The city of Rijeka and its major environmental challenges

Rijeka is the administrative as well as cultural and university centre of the Primorje-Gorski kotar County, the principal seaport and the third largest city in Croatia regarding the number of inhabitants (128.624). The city is situated along the course of Rječina River on the northern coast of the Adriatic Sea.

The terrain configuration, with mountains raising steeply just a few miles inland from the shores of the Adriatic, provides for some striking climatic and landscape contrasts offering an impressive natural setting within a small geographic area of only 44 km2.

Historically, because of its strategic position and its excellent deep-water Port of Rijeka, the city was fiercely contested, especially among Italy, Hungary, and Croatia, changing hands and demographics many times over centuries.

Today, Rijeka is city where the past and present meet in unique charm. Rijeka is a vital transport hub with ships, cargo and cranes lining the waterfront representing the Croatian largest and most important port, while at the same time a true treasury of valuable buildings and monuments, museums and galleries, as well as interesting cultural and business events.

The city's economy mostly relies on transport, trade, maritime affairs and shipbuilding industry, while in the recent years the tourism is also becoming important economic sector. The people of this region are well known for their openness to new ideas, and a number of recent initiatives are making the city a truly fascinating and fun place to visit.

The small area of only 44 km2 of territory that the city comprises of, represents the major environmental challenge. This is only 1.2% of the County territory, while at the same time, here lives 43.4% of County population, with the density of 2.923 inhabitants per km2 (in the County, density of population is 83 inhabitants/km2).

From the previous challenge arise other environmental challenges of which we consider major following ones: urban (public) transport, waste management, wastewater treatment, noise, light pollution and energy efficiency and sustainable building.

Over the last decade, the City of Rijeka has merged activities and applies a more responsible administrative approach to urban development projects, particularly regarding the plans for switching over to renewable energy sources in public transportation, energy efficiency growth in the field of construction works as well as in information management.

Actions towards sustainable urban transport in the year 2013 were as follows: 13 buses and 8 minibuses which are running on CNG (compressed natural gas) were incorporated in the public transport scheme and the second filling station for CNG in Croatia has been opened in Rijeka (not only for buses, but also for all private and public vehicles). It represents first fully preparedbuilt and technically equipped CNG filling station in Croatia according to strict European standards. In the year 2014, 11 buses were redesigned for running on LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and diesel mixture instead on diesel. In the course is education of bus drivers for eco friendly drive. Utility companies for the waste management "Čistoća" and the other for the production and distribution of thermal energy and gas "Energo" are also in the process of obtaining vehicles running on gas instead diesel.

Speaking about waste management, the most important fact is that the new County Waste Management Centre in "Marišćina" will begin operations in late 2014 year as the first of its kind built in the Croatia, built according to EU waste management standards. Together with its establishment, the measures and procedures for the separate waste collection are introduced on the national as well as county and municipality level including citizen awareness raising, because the rate of separate waste collection is still very low.

Wastewater treatment is also important issue, because 66% households are connected to the sewage and there is only first level of wastewater treatment. With improvement which is in the course, until the 2018 the 75 % of households would be connected to the sewage system, with new wastewater treatment plant performing the second level treatment.

Regarding the noise, The Noise Map and Noise Action Plan for the city of Rijeka have been done, and now are in the process of updating.

Light pollution is problem in some city areas. Some of the problems were resolved with reconstruction of energy efficient public lighting with focused light beams, but there is a still lot of space for further improvements.

In the field of energy efficiency and sustainable building, we have to pinpoint the Kindergarten "Srdoči", that has been built according to highest standards in the field, with A+ certificate. It contains photovoltaic power station with a power of 9.9. kW.

On the seven public buildings there were installed seven photovoltaic stations with total capacity of 90 kW and more are planned to be installed in the near future.

About ten skyscrapers were renewed according to energy efficiency standards with thick facades and other buildings are either in the course or renewal or are planning to improve their energy efficiency performances.

The buildings in public sector have to be energy certified. All new planned buildings have to meet high standards of energy efficiency and sustainability, while the old ones have to undergo renewals towards higher energy efficiency levels and labels.

The City of Rijeka has signed Aalborg Commitment and is member of lot of associations of which are the most important Covenant of Mayors, Energy Cities, Forum of Adriatic and Ionian Cities and Towns, Euro Cities and European Healthy Cities Network, which enforces it to constantly and continuously improve environmental performances. Entering the EU, the legislation of Republic of Croatia is harmonised with EU laws so the City of Rijeka follows the national and EU requirements in the field of environmental protection.