Vilnius will implement the results of a study to improve air quality and transport noise

Step by step, Vilnius City Municipality aims to become a more sustainable and climate-neutral city. Starting this year, the capital is taking part in the LIFE project GreenMe5, which will aim to reduce noise and air pollution in one of its streets. Successful measures will be extended to other streets in Vilnius.

“Vilnius City Municipality is a signatory to the Green City Agreement and is committed to taking measures to reduce air and noise pollution, to use water efficiently, to promote a circular economy and to maintain biodiversity in the city. With LIFE GreenMe5, we are taking real steps to implement this agreement,” says Andrius Grigonis, Deputy Mayor of Vilnius, who leads the project.

The pilot street where the measures will be implemented has been chosen taking into account the noise and pollution levels, the traffic volume, the number of people living in the vicinity, the infrastructure of the street and the city’s plans for the area. The data is analysed by ID Vilnius, a company owned by Vilnius City Municipality. A pilot street is expected to be selected for the project within a few months.

“Vilnius residents are probably wondering which street we will choose as the pilot project site. So far, we are analysing the data, assessing where it would make the most sense to test different air pollution and noise abatement measures, and evaluating their impact and effectiveness under different conditions. We want to involve the local community and the residents of the surrounding houses in this project,” says Giedrius Kavaliauskas, Chief Specialist of the Project Management Unit of Vilnius Municipality and LIFE GreenMe5 Project Manager.

Once a street has been selected, it will be equipped with noise and air pollution sensors. It will measure exactly what the air pollution and noise levels are at different times of the day, on different days of the week.

This will be followed by various noise and air pollution mitigation measures, such as greening the street, introducing various traffic restrictions, encouraging residents who regularly drive on the street to minimise the use of their cars, etc.

“One of the main sources of noise in the city is car traffic. The same goes for air pollution. That’s why we want to find the most effective measures to create a quiet and clean-air street,” says Emilis Tamošiūnas, Chief Specialist of the Environmental Programmes and Plantation Management Unit.

After each implemented change, air and noise pollution indicators will be analysed on the selected street.

They will also be tracked by residents themselves in the City Lungs app.It provides real-time data on air pollution and pollen concentrations in Vilnius city from 34 sensors. A test street will also be included in the map, but noise will also be measured there.

Vilnius has plans to reduce noise and air pollution. Noise walls, buffer planting, perimeter development along streets and noise-insulating materials on the facades of street-facing buildings are all effective ways of reducing noise, while windows and balconies for people living along noisy streets are being replaced and balconies glazed. This has been done in the reconstruction of Laisvės Avenue, the intersections of Ukmergės and Ateities Streets and Oslo Street.

Recently, noise walls have been installed in Žirnių Street and are planned for Oslo Street. The reconstruction project for Geležinio Vilko Street near Vingis Park also includes measures to reduce traffic noise in Vingis Park, for example by laying special noise reducing asphalt.

The recommendations for reducing air pollution in Vilnius also focus on traffic pollution. Private and commercial transport accounts for the majority of pollution – 96% – and public transport only 4%. The city is therefore giving priority to promoting public transport and less polluting means of transport: new buses and trolleybuses with lower pollution levels, more convenient routes and timetables for residents, new cycle paths, charging stations for electric cars, automated traffic management, spring cleaning of streets to minimise dust.

LIFE GreenMe5 will help evaluate the effectiveness of some of the measures.

“We have a range of measures based on the practice in other countries, but we have not studied which ones would be most effective in tackling street air pollution and noise pollution.We hope that we can use these tests to redesign other streets to make them quieter and cleaner,” said Tamošiūnas.”LIFE GreenMe5 aims to bring about change in five areas: reducing air and noise pollution, promoting biodiversity, managing water resources and promoting a circular economy.In addition to Vilnius, the project involves city administrations in Spain, Italy and Sweden. Each of them has chosen to make a change in one of these five areas.

The project is funded by the EU’s LIFE programme.The total value of the project is €257.6k, 60% of which is EU funding. EUR 100 000 has been earmarked for the co-financing of the project in accordance with the Ministry of the Environment’s “Procedure for the Allocation of Co-financing to Environment and Climate Policy Programme (LIFE) Projects”. The project duration is four years.