The Paris Region Urban and Environmental Agency (IAU Île-de-France): Sustainable neighbourhoods: from exception to propagation

The Paris Region Urban and Environmental Agency (IAU Île-de-France): Sustainable neighbourhoods: from exception to propagation

In the Paris Region, 67 neighbourhoods have been accredited, and some are already inhabited. Sustainable neighbourhoods are gradually gaining ground and raising questions around the way cities are made.

Many French cities began establishing eco-neighbourhood projects on their municipal territories, as of the early 2000s. Apart from the “marketing” effect, they represent a veritable reservoir of new high-quality places for living, in phase with the national territory’s ecological transition.

Panorama of approaches to accreditation

The State played a transformative role when it created ÉcoQuartier in 2009. At the same time, the Paris Region established a specific support scheme in favour of new urban neighbourhoods (the NQU) corresponding to the priorities on its territory, for the purpose of incentivising the creation of exemplary neighbourhoods.

The national accreditation: the ÉcoQuartier

The national call for projects had the goal of identifying best practice in the field of sustainable planning on one of the four following themes: approach and process; life environment and uses; territorial development; conservation of resources and adaptation to climate change. In France, 37 initiatives have been rewarded following the two calls for projects in 2009 and 2011. In parallel with this national call for projects, provisions were made for ÉcoQuartiers within the context of the 2007-2013 State-Region Planning Contract (CPER). The official launch of the ÉcoQuartier accreditation was inaugurated in 2012, committing the local authorities to 20 criteria and several phases.

The Paris Region accreditation: the QIE

In June 2016, a new system was established by the Paris Regional Council, aimed at supporting 100 innovative and ecological neighbourhoods (QIE) over the territory of the Paris Region between now and 2020. The Regional Council is providing support for the development of new mixed neighbourhoods and the transformation of existing well-served neighbourhoods, prioritising those located around stations. In contrast to the national accreditation, the regional accreditation offers financial aid for planning, notably for the development of local facilities and public areas, of an innovative and ecological character. 16 awardees have already shared € 52.2 million of subsidies. The outcome revealed a renewed commitment on the part of local authorities. However, the scheduled criteria were found to be complex and not all the subjects were fully tackled. The environmental quality aspect of the projects had not yet been properly grasped. Functional mixing and consultation remained weak.

67 sustainable neighbourhoods in the Paris Region

There is not a Paris Region sustainable neighbourhood “model”, but rather a contextualised approach. The 67 accredited neighbourhoods in the Paris region exhibit very considerable diversity, notably in view of their surface areas varying from 1 ha for the ÉcoQuartier Fréquel-Fontarabie (Paris) to 337 ha at the Moulon site in Gif-sur-Yvette (Essonne “département”).

You can find, e.g.:

  • major facilities or local facilities (schools, crèches, sports halls and show venues…)
  • economic activities
  • projects geared to the improvement of public spaces, work on urban seams and the creation of city parks.

Currently, most of the neighbourhoods accredited are located within the boundaries of the Greater Paris Metropolis, although rarely in rural areas. The principal reason for this is because these are very often urban renewal and renovation (80%) rather than extension (20%) projects. Since their creation, the accreditation schemes have made it possible to provide support to innovative projects, help with the creation of new facilities, and promote the production of dwellings. Over 250,000 inhabitants of the Paris Region should eventually live in one of these exemplary neighbourhoods.

The current scheme is aimed at supporting some hundred QIEs by 2020. At the same time, evolutions are under way. This is a matter of moving from a sometimes costly “high-tech” approach, which was predominant in the first sustainable neighbourhoods, to a “low-tech” approach, better adapted to the needs of inhabitants, for the purpose of facilitating their involvement, and to the general issues around the notion of the sustainable city.


Towards a propagation of the “sustainable neighbourhood”

The many neighbourhoods that have been accredited have the particularity of being championed by the public authorities and of benefiting from assistance, and sometimes even financial support. They are test-beds for the cities of tomorrow, laboratories for projects to be used as examples. Sustainable neighbourhoods have become a tool for reflection about the mutation and the crafting of cities that must be part and parcel of the dynamics of the energy transition. Beyond accreditation, local authorities are becoming increasingly important as stakeholders in “sustainable” transformations of their territories. Consequently, in the near future, it will be possible for many neighbourhoods to be ecological and innovative. The exception will become, without doubt, the rule.

Read the article in full at

Republished from IAU Île-de-France
Article by Émilie Jarousseau
Photo Credits: The urban agriculture centre in Romainville (Seine-Saint-Denis département) @Ilimelgo, courtesy of Romainville ; Fréquel-Fontarabie (Paris, 20th district) @ Xavier Testelin/Divergence ; Val-Fourré in Mantes-la-Jolie (Yvelines département) @Agence RVA // (map) The 67 sustainable neighbourhoods in the Paris Region Source: IAU // (inset see attached) Three accreditations with multiple criteria Source: IAU