As the COP21 conference runs into extra time, here’s a glimpse of a truly energy efficient neighbourhood in construction, the new Clichy-Batignolles eco-quartier in north west Paris.




The buildings already completed don’t look particularly futuristic but their energy efficiency is in a new league.  The thermal performance of the 3,400 new homes means that the energy required for domestic hearing will be only 15kWh per square metre per year.  That compares with a current average consumption of around 100kWh per square metre per year for French homes heated by electricity, (a common heating method in Paris apartments). Overall the 3,400 new homes are expected to use a total of less than 50kWh of primary energy per square metre per year.

When completed, the roofs of the new buildings will support 40,000 square metres of photovoltaic panels, making this the one of the largest energy generating installations in Paris. The development includes a new metro station and an extension to the tram network, plus an innovative pneumatic rubbish collection system, to reduce the need for visits by bin lorries.

This new development will not only be home for some 7,500 human residents.  Unusually, the planting of trees and development of wildlife habitats in the central green space, Parc Martin Luther King, started before work on the buildings.  The bird song in the park is evidence that the dense, naturalistic planting is already encouraging wildlife to move into the neighbourhood. Today I only stepped into the park briefly, in passing, but I’ll be back with my binoculars before long.

The wind turbine in the picture isn’t part of the energy provision for the new housing.  Along with some solar panels, it will supply energy for lighting, water pumps and maintenance needs in the park.  Of course it’s also symbolic; evidence that this park and the surrounding housing is looking to the future.