Ecopole: An Eco-friendly Development Project

In Carrières-sous-Poissy, about 30 kilometres west of Paris, an ambitious eco-friendly development project has been launched: the “Ecopôle”. It is part of the large scale Integrated Urban Project (IUP) entitled Seine Aval and focuses on economic development through eco-construction activities. The main objective is to facilitate and promote the accommodation of businesses primarily dedicated to eco-construction. This includes for instance companies or SMEs that specialize in thermal solar energy, in innovative thermal insulation, or in installing green roofs and timber frames.

Issue: a new economic sector in Carrières-sous-Poissy

The Eco-construction Park is the gateway to the Ecopôle and a showcase of the approach initiated by the 2 Rives de Seine agglomeration community (CA2RS). The area has a population of 63,500 and it is characterized by several issues, among which is a high level of unemployment. As this Park will be accommodating several new companies, it is expected to create new jobs in the area.

Approach: a combined effort by public and private parties

This project is based on a public-private partnership involving the local government (the Département and the Regional Council) and the EPAMSA, an organization in charge of spatial planning financed by public and private funds. As the area is known as “difficult” it has been a great boost to the project that a private sector partner (SEMIIC Promotion) has been found willing to develop the area in close cooperation with the local government. In areas such as these, this is quite uncommon.

This €4.1 million project is divided into three phases:

  • A phase developed by CA2RS which will benefit from the €1.4 million ERDF funding;
  • The creation by EPAMSA of business premises (3,000 sq. metres) aimed at small and medium enterprises (SMEs);
  • A conditional property development phase of 2,979 square metres to be carried out by the private developer SEMIIC Promotion.

The Eco-construction Park is beginning to attract SMEs: the three parties mentioned above have already been contacted by SMEs wishing to be accommodated in the new park.

Objectives: getting a step ahead in eco-construction

The opening of the Eco-construction Park is planned for March 2012. Its main objectives are to:

  • Develop an area with a high level of knowledge on eco-construction and environmentally friendly building;
  • Demonstrate the value of  eco-construction and sustainability in a mixed business park project by taking into account as many environmental concerns as possible;
  • Create a unique site in the Ile-de-France region, hosting businesses working in the fields of housing construction or renovation as part of a sustainable development approach.
European involvement and the added value of cohesion policy on the project

The development area is located close to a difficult urban area with a high level of unemployment. Local governments decided to boost the economy of the area by focusing on economic development through eco-construction and eco-industrial processes. An example of such a process is an industry which collects old clothing and transforms it into a special insulation material called “Métisse”.

The Seine Aval territory had already benefited from two URBAN Initiatives for the refurbishment of its urban area. Nowadays and based on the Lisbon Strategy the idea is to promote and to benefit from economic growth in innovative fields.  The support of the ERDF has been crucial for the commitment of CA2RS to this project. It has furthermore helped to include a private investor in the project, which is highly unusual in an area such as Carrières-sous-Poissy.

Integrated development: sustainable development based on activities in the Ecopôle

The project is part of the IUP Seine Aval which is a programme coordinated by EPAMSA. Sustainable development and promotion of the eco-construction processes is an important issue within this programme, and several projects in the Seine Aval territory have been developed in that direction. The Eco-construction Park is one of the biggest projects of this programme and the aim is to be the showcase of local government involvement in sustainable development policies. Many projects in the region aim at sustainable development, the construction of at least 2,500 houses per year and transport development. Eco-construction and eco-industry are ways in which those objectives can be achieved, and the results of the Eco-construction park can support these further developments.

Lessons learned: political commitment is necessary to involve private partners

The main lesson learned is that by involving public-private partnerships in a project, things can move forward faster. To make a project of a real impact, there needs to be a strong political commitment (such as is incorporated in the regional Seine Aval protocol) that will reassure private developers.