With over 1.5 million inhabitants, the industrial city of Puebla is Mexico’s fourth largest urban area. It is located at the foot of the Popocatepetl volcano in central Mexico, 2,100 meters above sea level, which gives it a pleasant climate that minimizes the need for heating or air conditioning. In 2013 Puebla asked to be chosen together with Léon, Mexico and Bogotá, Colombia to participate in the World Bank’s Latin America and the Caribbean Energy Unit’s research project on energy use, through the testing of the new Tool for the Rapid Assessment of City Energy (TRACE).
Rapid assessment of city energy
TRACE is a simple and practical tool for picking the low-hanging fruits of urban climate change mitigation. It helps decision makers identify under-performing sectors, evaluate improvement potential and prioritize actions for energy efficiency measures tailored to the city´s context. Since TRACE is a rapid assessment tool, it doesn’t provide a deep or comprehensive analysis but focuses on six sectors that in many cities around the world are under municipal control: transport, municipal buildings, water and wastewater, street lighting, solid waste, and power and heat. TRACE contains a benchmarking module with data from dozens of cities and a set of energy efficiency interventions supported by a database of hundreds of case studies. Since its creation in 2010, TRACE has been deployed in 27 cities in Africa, Asia, Europe and Central Asia, and Latin America.
The three sectors that the Puebla TRACE study recommended for prioritized action were street lighting, municipal buildings, and solid waste.
Puebla had already started a program for modernizing its public lighting with magnetic induction lamps and local dimming. The TRACE study identified several additional measures, including a procurement guide for new street lights with strict rules, a city-wide street lighting retrofit with LEDs, and involvement of an energy service company (ESCO) that could help finance the investments from a share of the energy savings. Puebla is now continuing with the "Puebla, City of Light" program, which is converting 20,000 out if its approximately 100,000 street lights to LEDs, and is expanding the coverage to previously poor lit neighborhoods.
Buildings and waste management
Following the advice of the TRACE study, Puebla has started an energy efficiency program for its municipal buildings, including a switch to LED lighting and construction of solar PVs on the City Hall. Most of the energy use in Puebla´s buildings is for lighting and IT because of the pleasant climate, but the TRACE study identified other energy saving measures, including building audits, database programs and mandatory energy efficiency codes for new buildings. Puebla has started a program to measure, regulate and promote the efficient use of energy also in the community building stock.
The TRACE study identified a low level of recycling in Puebla, although recent measures had started to improve the situation, including a new program that allows companies to buy recyclable solid waste from private informal collectors, with the money collected going into a fund to improve safety in the city. Puebla has started to implement some of the proposals in the TRACE study, which included transfer stations to reduce the number of waste truck trips, solid waste auditing and planning, and public awareness campaigns. In addition, Puebla is investing heavily in waste to energy, including a plant for production of biogas at the Chiltepeque landfill.
Transport biggest emitter
The transport sector accounts for over 54% of energy use in Puebla, but the city already has a good mobility program in place to improve on that number. Almost half of the residents use public transport, while more than a third bike or walk, especially in the historic district, where there is a good pedestrian network. Puebla is now expanding its Bus Rapid Transit system RUTA from one corridor to three, and is making the city more bicycle friendly with more lanes. It has partnered with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) Mexico to develop a comprehensive mobility plan, which includes the recovery of public spaces and implementation of a parking policy.
ESMAP, Tool for Rapid Assessment of City Energy (TRACE): Helping Cities Use Energy Efficiently, http://esmap.org/TRACE
City of Puebla, “Tony Gali Moderniza Alumbrado Público en Bosques de Manzanilla”, August 2 2015, http://pueblacapital.gob.mx/noticias/noticias-destacadas/item/4881-tony-gali-moderniza-alumbrado-publico-en-bosques-de-manzanilla
ITDP Mexico, “RUTA Línea 2 de Puebla: candidata a plata según el BRT Standard”, June 11 2015, http://mexico.itdp.org/noticias/ruta-linea-2-de-puebla-candidata-a-plata-segun-el-brt-standard/
carbonn Climate Registry, City Climate Report: Municipality of Puebla, http://carbonn.org/data/report/commitments/?tx_datareport_pi1%5Buid%5D=348
Text by: Martin Jacobson
Last edited: 2017-03-15