Urban regeneration provides a unique opportunity for cities to accelerate progress toward net zero targets while creating modern, future-ready environments. Set in the northwest of Milan, the MIND Milano Innovation District is a singular urban regeneration project that will transform the city’s former international exhibition site into a mixed-use, net zero urban innovation district featuring a mix of residential units, green areas as well as space for the sciences, knowledge and innovation.  

Landowner Arexpo, majority-owned by a mix of public entities, and real estate investor Lendlease are together managing the development through a public-private partnership. Our sustainability advisors have been appointed to deliver a carbon roadmap to net zero; as well as a high-level climate change adaptation and resilience strategy, and an integrated water management strategy.  

Pioneering carbon roadmap to net zero

Lendlease has set ambitious net zero targets for Milan’s Innovation District; targeting operational and embodied net zero carbon emissions by 2025, and absolute zero scope 1, 2 and 3 by 2040. MIND’s carbon roadmap offers one of the first examples of a large-scale carbon budget for an existing urban redevelopment. Following Lendlease’s targets, our sustainability experts developed a carbon roadmap that anticipates and goes beyond an overall net zero carbon footprint for the site, including emissions from construction and operation.

Buildings are key to achieving net zero. Our experts have also supported Lendlease in measuring the performance of a series of building typologies to determine the carbon budget per type. Through an independent review of the design of the buildings, we have provided a number of technical solutions to reduce embodied carbon during construction.

Climate strategy to future proof MIND

Charting the climate we are likely to experience in the future can help us prepare for climate change. Arup’s climate resilience specialists developed a Climate Adaption & Resilience strategy, offering a systematic approach to proactively anticipate risks and respond to weather events against a number of potential 2090 climate change scenarios.

The team evaluated these different likely scenarios, identifying priority risks such as urban heat-island effect and flooding. Green spaces and water surfaces throughout the site will play a key role in counteracting these risks. 

The strategic goals and actions are grouped around three key pillars: nature, people and nourishment. These will guide the design of green and blue infrastructure and shared spaces across the site, helping shape a circular food system and promoting social resilience through urban farming and on-site food production activities. 

Circular economy-inspired water management

Arup’s water experts developed an integrated water management strategy to ensure the efficient use of water resources including nature-based solutions such as green roofs and gardens, reed beds, bioswales and wetlands, alongside technical thinking to create a resilient system, improve canal water quality and optimise the potable and non-potable consumption.  

The team analysed the morphological and infrastructure properties of the site, as well as the quality of the drainage, groundwater and canal systems. MIND’s circular use of water resources will be enhanced through the implementation of a metered system. The system will be supported by efficient plumbing fixtures and a non-potable water network, alongside an integrated utility water system to reduce energy demand and costs of water treatment. The installation of an aeration system will improve canal water quality and help the district produce clean drinking water.  

Nature-based solutions will help mitigate flooding risks, and improve the interaction between surface and groundwater by optimising the site’s water infiltration and attenuation mechanisms. Expected to be completed in 2030, the MIND Milano Innovation District is an imaginative showcase of a large urban mixed-use redevelopment that will foster a culture of wellbeing, social interaction, and collaboration, linking innovation with sustainable operations.