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Green mobility 01/06/2016

​Creating a network to reduce urban heat islands together

Olivier Papin, joint winner of the call for projects in "Adressing urban heat islands in Mediterranean cities" launched by ENGIE with ten partners, created the Environment center within the consultancy ECIC nearly 15 years ago and has been interested in preventing heat islands since 2009.

Hello Olivier. Tell us about ECIC and about the project you submitted.

ECIC is a consulting firm specializing in energy efficiency. We’ve worked in the environmental sector since 2002. Starting in 2009, we began working on UHIs (urban heat islands), and have conducted several studies on the subject for the cities of Bordeaux, Niort, Begles, Merignac and even one in China!

What I’m saying is that the call for projects launched by ENGIE goes straight to the heart of our business, so it was important for us to position ourselves on this.

How did you respond to the call for projects?

We had already determined that there were many advantages to sharing information and using multiple approaches when working on the issue of UHIs.

Our project involves creating a network of stakeholders who work together across all of the countries bordering the Mediterranean.

Historically, cities on the southern border of the Mediterranean have been more subject to heat islands and more powerful ones at that. So they have a head start on preventing them. In cities on the northern rim, the problem is growing.

Instead of working separately, we want this network to be used to share expertise, best practices, and tools and to let those involved work to move everyone forward at the same time, while obviously adapting the approach to the specifics of each local area.

An example: the other winner of the call for projects, the Inspire Institute, has an approach that is very different but quite complementary to ours. Our approach is focused on the macro, city-region level, while theirs is more concrete and on a more micro scale, but both of our assessments show that there is no single way to address UHIs.

The idea is to identify the issues that are common to all of the regions, to show what works and what doesn’t, and to share resources and ways of facilitating progress in the respective city regions.

Another aspect of our project is to involve citizens, as both resources (selecting areas to replant, new areas to be converted, and analyzing their responses), and as ambassadors (e.g. raising awareness during heat waves about health consequences and being attentive to vulnerable populations).

What does it mean to you to have won the call for projects?

First of all, it’s important for us in terms of image and credibility. Having been chosen by ENGIE gives us more legitimacy and visibility when we want to go meet with local areas, companies or property developers.

We also expect that it will help us find partners, funding and testing grounds.

We’re already reaping the benefits: we recently had the opportunity to present our network to other stakeholders in the fight against UHIs, and the response was very positive. Getting special access to these stakeholders is important since it helps us to contact the right people.

In the near future we really hope that having been chosen by ENGIE and its partners will help us make this network a reality and make it a success, especially internationally.

A final word to conclude?

We’re really counting on all of the partners in the call for projects to help us create and develop this network. Getting support from ENGIE is just the beginning. Consider this a wink to potential funders or local areas, who we welcome to contact us if they want to learn more about our project.

Source: Christine Leroy

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