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The Cooling Island makes urban space more comfortable for Parisians and travelers


Starting on Monday, July 2nd, Parisians and travelers alike have been able to settle in the shade and cool off in the plaza in front of the Gare de Lyon! A Cooling Island, designed by CLIMESPACE and installed in partnership with the SNCF and Eau de Paris, gives all passers-by a chance to make use of an oasis kept fresh by the City of Paris’s cooling network.

Olivier Turc, Manager of the Equipment and Projects Cluster at CLIMESPACE, told us more about the demonstrator, which has been installed for the summer.

What is a Cooling Island? How does it work?

The Cooling Island is a temporary, reusable outdoor space where people can cool off, designed to address the effects of heat waves and installed in the heart of the city. It offers a feeling of freshness through a canopy that provides shade and seating that is cooled via a connection to the cooling network. This refreshing experience is an innovation in energy and cities, as well as a tangible proposal for ways to adapt the city to global warming and protect the local population in times of high heat.

Using the energy inertia of the concrete that forms the base of the bench and chilled water from the CLIMESPACE cooling network, the project is an efficient, water-saving cooling system for the general public.

It turns on automatically and uses energy from the cooling network when the air temperature exceeds 28 ° C. The island provides a feeling of freshness with perceived temperatures about 5° C lower than the ambient air temperature. It is modular and attached to the cooling network via a simple connection, so the device is designed to easily be incorporated into any space in the city.


Do we need to think up new cooling solutions in temperate zones?

In early June, Météo France and the Agence Parisienne du Climat published projections of temperatures in Paris until 2100, and predict that by the end of the century:

  • There will be a sharp increase in the number of heat wave days, up to between 3 and 26 days per year versus 1 day on average today;
  • There will be an intensification of the urban heat island effect, which will further compound heat stress for Parisians.

Rising temperatures, which will be reinforced by the heat island phenomenon, raise the question of how to cool the city off and make it resilient and pleasant to live in for all its inhabitants.

CLIMESPACE, as the concessionaire of the City of Paris for running and expanding its urban cooling network, has imagined several innovative solutions for cooling Paris, one of which is the Cooling Island.

The Cooling Island is a world first: it brings the cooling network out of the city’s basements and buildings to help protect all Parisians from the risks associated with hot weather. Usually, getting access to the cooling network means having a subscription and a contract. In this case, the network is aboveground and open for anyone to use.


Where did the idea for the Cooling Island come from?

The project reflects our desire to offer areas for everyone to be able to cool off in public space. We decided to use refreshing urban furniture rather than closed structures like yurts or bubbles, which we had initially considered. The idea of a chilled bench in the shade is more inclusive and also poses fewer regulatory constraints.


What is the point of installing these Cooling Islands for CLIMESPACE?

CLIMESPACE is known as a major stakeholder in cooling networks, whose energy performance is 50% higher than individual cooling solutions and generate 50% less CO2 emissions. Urban heating and cooling networks are the pillars of sustainable cities: they are the fastest and most efficient way to reduce the carbon intensity of dense urban areas and supply them with clean and renewable energy.

Through this experiment, we will be able to see how the public reacts, how it uses the site, to measure the level of onboarding and the value created by the island. This pilot project will help us evaluate the value of this kind of project more generally and allow us to structure the business models for urban furniture based on a better analysis of their value.


Following the Cooling Island at the Gare de Lyon you will install two other islands, one at the Station F and another at Paris Plages. Why 3 demonstrators?

These 3 sites have different audiences. At the Gare de Lyon people are in transit, both Parisians and non-Parisians. Station F is a place associated with innovation, so it was interesting to be able to do something there. It’s a workplace, but also a residential zone thanks to the buildings around it. And Paris Plages is a place of leisure and relaxation. So the three places have different audiences with different expectations and there will certainly be different returns. On each of the three test sites we will evaluate how much and how people use the device.

We will then be able to imagine how to make it even better with new services, for example by making the island a broader service hub with partnerships. We can imagine as many formulas as there are partnerships: we could put photovoltaic panels on the roofs to recharge mobile devices, create small gardens where people from the neighborhood could meet to garden... There are certainly many uses that we haven’t thought of yet - not to mention, of course, improving the main function, which is to keep people cool.

On this first Cooling Island, the partnership with Eau de Paris makes available to any passers-by with a drinking fountain that will certainly be very popular in this area where tons of people come through all the time!

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