Several inaugurations of ecodistricts took place in France recently. With the COP21 (United Nations Conference on Climate Change), the French wanted to lead by example. But to prove their genuine effectiveness, these new environmentally-friendly developments must be implemented on a city-wide scale.
The ecodistricts are flourishing all over France. The local governments communicate intensively about these projects, which are competing in multiplying their ecological achievements. The building sector is responsible for 25% of the global emissions of the country. By implementing solutions such as renewable energy, bioclimatic construction, natural management of the rainwater, and strong vegetal presence; ecodistricts are laboratories to design the transition of cities. An ecodistrict is in fact difficult to define because its design depends heavily on the space where it is built. An ecological study in advance will define, most of the time, the processes for each distinct district.
These urban projects represent a real progress in a time where 80% of the French population lives in cities. But, for now, they are emerging here and there without any real connection with the surrounding districts; at risk of becoming ghettos reserved for privileged residents. The underlying challenge to the construction of these districts is to manage to expand the solutions which are implemented in them at the city-scale.
In addition, the planned districts should not eat away new empty spaces, which are sometimes havens to biodiversity, under the pretext that they are “environment friendly.” Otherwise, this will bring us back to the urban sprawl pitfall that has characterized the second half of the 20th century and, of which, we are still paying the consequences.
Are there any ecodistricts/ green developments in your city? Are they only inhabited by higher income residents? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.