SPIRE: Smart post-industrial regenerative ecosystem for sustainable use of land and nature based solutions

Title of the project: Smart post-industrial regenerative ecosystem for sustainable use of land and nature based solutions

Acronym: SPIRE 

Funding source: UIA – Urban Innovative Actions

Implementation period: 09/2019 – 08/2023

Country: Romania


The project sought to kick-start the long-term re-development and reclamation of contaminated land in Baia Mare (Romania), using co-development of new adaptive and productive landscapes, integrated into a circular ecosystem to enable cascading value chains for materials and energy production.

Specifically, the primary objective was to plant sufficient quantities of specific plant species in contaminated areas, i.e., plant species that can remove or break down harmful chemicals from the ground when their roots take in water and nutrients from the contaminated soil.

The secondary aspects of the project have been to use plants in a circular way, based on green principles e.g., for energy generation, and engaging communities to actively participate in the re-development and planting of these areas of the city.

In addition to the planting schemes, the project also set up a new hub and maker space in the city and also established the ‘iLEU’, a local digital currency/token, which has been used to reward civic environmental behaviour, involvement, and eco-entrepreneurship. iLEU were given for a wide variety of reasons, from participation in green initiatives to choosing green transport options. For example, people earned 1.5 iLEU for walking to school or 1 iLEU for biking.

SPIRE developed a bio-based circular ecosystem in Baia Mare, using the Hub to co-create final designs of the landscape and phytoremediation pilots, and implementing these actions in 5 very different locations. Biomass yields of the renaturalisation actions were used in two cascading value chains:

1) to produce energy for a public building, and

2) in carbon-neutral experimental materials with construction / industrial applications, co-developed with young entrepreneurs who were mentored in the SPIRE Hub. 

Finally, a Life Cycle Assessment evaluated the SPIRE value chains, and a co-designed Metropolitan 2050 strategy upscaled the approach.

 Links to the website:

  1. https://www.uia-initiative.eu/en/uia-cities/baia-mare
  2. www.spire.city