In the capital of France, the new Clichy-Batignolles development demonstrates how a city can have a carbon-neutral footprint while providing modern living. The development itself is built on old industrial lands and includes community housing, a theatre, and many other important features of a city including a massive park. The neighbourhood focusses on sustainable buildings and sustainable transit; the developer specifically designed the spaces to be walkable and ensuring that there is no need for a car.
All buildings are being constructed to the demanding Passivhaus standard, meaning that the energy consumption required for heating is just 15 kilowatt-hours a square metre of floor space per year, and the overall energy consumption is under 50kWh asqm of floor space per year.
The buildings are south-facing and super insulated, capturing and retaining the sun’s heat and warmth given off by their occupants and technology. Buildings are composed of renewable materials while other materials such as PVC are banned.
The area will contain 40,000 sq m of solar photovoltaic roofs that will eventually generate around 4500-megawatt-hours a year to supply 85 per cent of the remaining energy needs, while deep geothermal energy will provide 83 per cent of the space heating and domestic hot water, so that the entire site will have a carbon neutral footprint.
One of the biggest challenges facing cities in the 21st century is how to make them more people friendly. Parts of many cities have been left to rot, or have been neglected, thanks to decades of car-dominated thinking. This car-focussed, and individualistic, urban design has made discourse around making cities people friendly hard; it’s time for that to change.
Cities around the world have been trying different tactics to get people to embrace people-friendly design. From Paris to Calgary here are some ways that urban planners have been using to get people to think less about cars and more about places.
Since 2006, the mayor’s office has hosted Paris-Plages (“Paris Beaches”), a temporary artificial beach installed along the River Seine during the summer months. Residents and tourists alike can be spotted walking, cycling, playing sports, sunbathing, drinking and dining along the river, in a corridor that sees 43,000 cars per day during the remaining 10 months of the year. However, 10 years of seasonal summer closures have been enough to convince Parisians that this stretch of motorway is expendable, and in September, council voted to permanently pedestrianize it. Mayor Anne Hidalgo heralded the decision, calling it the “end of the urban motorway in Paris, and the reconquest of the Seine.”
Paris-Plages, along with the weekly Paris Respire open street events and the fledgling P’tit Vélib’ bike share for kids, are some of the creative ways Hidalgo is helping Parisians rethink their city streets.
Thanks to Delaney!
Paris has had decades of extremely bad traffic and there’s no obvious solution: other than get rid the traffic. Infrastructure that encourages car use makes traffic worse while also debilitating cities as a whole. So Paris is doing what most places are afraid to try: giving the streets back to people.
“Parisians are finding out that what were once admirable squares of theirs are now just intersections,” says Jean Macheras, the Paris delegate of the French Transportation Users Assocation.
The shift started with the Place de la République—until 2013, it was also a busy road, but now it’s a pedestrian plaza planted with trees, lined with benches, and filled with people. The transformation was so popular that the city decided to keep going.
Each of the new designs give pedestrians at least 50% of the space in the square, taking away lanes of traffic even though each of the streets is a major route in the city. At the Place de la Bastille, the square will reconnect with a curb on one side, creating a new green space for people to sit. At the Place de la Madeleine, trees will mark off more pedestrian space and a new weekly market will be added.
The Paris climate (COP21) talks are over and the deal has been struck, many are rightly calling this deal a huge step forward! All countries agreed to cutting emissions while running a more efficient world economy. Nations of the world have agreed that our current trajectory of wastefulness will make life for everything on the planet very very hard. Even Canada, who had a reputation of sabotaging climate change negations, was invited to facilitate some of the talks.
With all the talk and coverage around COP21 it might seem all so overwhelming. Lucky for us, the Guardian has put together a short article summing up all the great points made in Paris.
Long-term global goal for net zero emissions
Countries have promised to try to bring global emissions down from peak levels as soon as possible. More significantly, they pledged “to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century”.
Experts say, in plain English, that means getting to “net zero emissions” between 2050 and 2100. The UN’s climate science panel says net zero emissions must happen by 2070 to avoid dangerous warming.
Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute said the long-term goal was “transformational” and “sends signals into the heart of the markets”.
Paris has had a tough time with traffic and pollution in the city due to the number of cars. They have launched many environmentally friendly intitaves to curb the use of cars while making alternative transit solutions to cars more appealing. It’s working and is already inspiring other cities to follow suit. Still, traffic in France’s capital is still quite bad so the mayor as launched a new program investing €100m on new bike lanes!
“I want diesel cars out of Paris by 2020 and, if possible, beyond the peripherique,” said the mayor, referring to the city’s constantly choked ring road.
“Today, 60 per cent of Parisians don’t have their own car, whereas in 2011, it was 40 per cent. It’s moving quickly,” she said.
In proposing a raft of anti-pollution measures, Ms Hidalgo is building on the efforts of her predecessor and mentor, the former Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe.
He championed bike and car rental schemes, expanded bus and bicycle lanes, and reduced speed limits, as he sought to wean Parisians off cars in a bid to make the city more liveable.