France

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France is a major European player in the field of eco-innovation, and possesses a strong track record in environmental regulation and support schemes – targeting both public and private actors (including individuals). This is illustrated by its strong ranking in the 2015 Eco-Innovation Scoreboard (seventh among the 28 EU Member States). However, France still falls behind a number of front-runners, particularly due to limited energy and water productivity and limited green early-stage investments. Increasing levels of resource efficiency, particularly energy efficiency, in key sectors such as transport and building are also key priorities.

The most important eco-innovation areas in France are linked to network and network management industries, and more specifically water management and sanitation, waste management, and environmental engineering. These sectors are well organised around very large international firms that are also major aggregators of innovations.

Since 2010, a group of clusters, focusing on environmental technologies, have supported the creation of innovative local networks of SMEs and large companies based around water and waste management, energy efficiency, renewable energies, smart cities and smart transport. These clusters act as a major testbed for the emergence of eco-innovations, and help to bring together public and private partners around common issues.

In addition, the national and regional support to eco-innovation and the circular economy is strong. At the national level, a number of dedicated calls for projects have been set up in recent years, complementing existing support measures such as eco-innovation equity funds or tax incentives focusing on the demand side of eco-innovation. At the regional level, 20 out of the 22 (former) metropolitan regions have at least one strategic domain of their Regional Smart Specialisation Strategy directly related to eco-industries. 

2015 Eco-innovation Scoreboard ranking and eco-innovation index composites for France

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Energy effective eco-housing in Nord-Pas de Calais

Labels: France Construction

VillavenirThe Villavenir project is an environmentally-friendly housing project carried out in northern France (Nord-Pas de Calais). The project involved the construction of six individual houses based on different building techniques and materials: wood, steel, bricklaying, etc. It was developed in order to fulfil three goals: meet increasing environmental protection requirements, promote the use of energy efficient building techniques, and provide hands-on training on these techniques to the local labour force. Energy efficiency and use of the six houses is constantly monitored over a three-year period, in order to ensure objectives are effectively met.

Determinants

The main driver behind the development of low energy intensive housing is the need to reduce GHG emissions levels produced by private households. The Grenelle legislation recently adopted by the French government has set an ambitious objective of bringing down energy consumption of new housing to under 50 Kwh/m²/year as early as 2012. This particular project was developed to demonstrate the possibility of meeting this objective, as well as to develop a new integrated and bottom-up approach to housing design and construction.

Sustainability effects

Replicating similar projects will have an effect on the levels of GHG emissions originating from households, but they could also enable the diffusion of innovations in the construction sector. In addition, the project has had a positive impact on employment at a local level, as well as on the transmission of eco-building skills among the local workforce.

Further Information

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Eco Innovation in Practice in France

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