Sustainable Innovation

Whitepaper Sustainable Cities Seminar Paris

The network ‘Femmes & Développement Durable’ based in Paris has held a seminar on the 15th of March : The City of Tomorrow : A City that Respires.

Senior representatives from private companies, public bodies and consultancies shared their views about ways to build and maintain livable cities, applying innovative mobility solutions, sustainable building criteria, new waste management systems and notably a transversal and multidisciplinairy approach.

The organising committee has created a ‘Livre Blanc’. The whitepaper is written in French and contains a summary in English. It can be found at the website of the network Femmes & Développement Durable.

Do not hestitate to share your ideas and comments on the website of the network !


City of Tomorrow : Seminar on March the 15th in Paris

In Europe, no less than 74% of the people are living in urban areas. Paris is among the top 3 largest cities in Europe with 6.4 million inhabitants, including suburbs. The growing population density brings a number of challenges such as increased energy consumption, traffic congestion, pollution and resource scarcity.

Fortunately, a great number of enterprises and public bodies are starting to introduce new plans and technologies to contribute to the development of sustainable cities, such as the The Hague municipality, and Dutch energy provider Eneco.

If we look at a city as a ‘living being’, with all its buildings, streets, inhabitants, enterprises, we recognize different streams that enter, are used by and sometimes leave the city. Think about energy, water, primary resources and waste.

If the city were one living being, how should we manage all different streams (‘flux’) ? What role to play for the private sector parties that bring specific solutions ? What are responsibilities of municipalities, the territories, the national government or the European Union ? How should we develop our cities in such as way to guarantee a good quality of live respecting environment – for the benefit of ourselves as well as our children ? I invite you to share your thoughts by sending your ideas via email or posting them on this blog.

For those living near Paris : On the 15th of March 2011 in Paris the seminar  ‘Ville de demain : une ville qui respire’ will be organised. Senior speakers will share their views on the particular challenges of our future cities and the systematic approach that is needed. Among the key note speakers will be a Paris suburb mayor, the  Sustainability Director of a large fastmoving company and French largest energy provider as well as a waste management company and urbanism specialist.

The seminar is organised by the network ‘Femmes & Développement Durable’ (women and sustainability). Inscription for this particular seminar is open to both women and men. Note that the working language will be French. For more information look at :

Sources :, National Geographic ‘Planet Earth’, edition 2009, Washington DC,


The Hague wants to be thé internationally known sustainable city
April 8, 2010, 11:18 am
Filed under: Best Practices in The Netherlands | Tags: ,

The Dutch governmental capital of The Hague, has set itself ambitious goals. The city, with 480.000 inhabitants, wants to be CO2 neutral as of 2050. The action plan contains innovative energy projects such as geothermal and seawater heating techniques and a climate fund for local carbon emission compensation.


 The Hague Skyline City and Municipality City center

At the Municipality organisation, Anne-Marie Gribnau is responsible for the climate change adaptation plan, Murielle Hermsen-Facon is Team Manager of the Strategy Direction, Department of Urban Planning, and Henk Heijkers is sustainability expert.

Gribnau, Hermsen-Facon, and Heijkers explain the cities sustainability objectives, followed by the actions undertaken by the municipality that demonstrate its exemplarity and the various ways of citizen mobilisation of the city.

1.       What are the cities Sustainability objectives ?

The Task Force ‘Sustainability’ has defined the cities specific challenges, opportunities and key objectives which were accepted in the summer of 2009, elaborates Anne-Marie Gribnau. Citizen representatives, entrepreneurs and NGOs were closely involved. As well the municipality employees have visited sustainable cities elsewhere that show operational best practices, such as Malmö.

Among the specific challenges and opportunities defined (2) are :

  • its unique location close to the sea and below sea level;
  • its international image as 4th UN city in the world, hosting public bodies such as the International Criminal Court;
  • its tertiary industry and relatively low carbon footprint (2200 Ktons de CO2 equivalents per year) Anne-Marie elaborates that 44% of the cities green house gas emissions is generated by households, 43% by companies and 13% by transport.


Special challenges & opportunities : The Hague is located close to the sea and below sea level ; The Hague hosting the Dutch government and international court bodies (Vredespaleis) 

The Hagues has defined its key objectives as follows (1):

1)       The City administration ought to be CO2 neutral as of 2010

2)       The City as a whole should be CO2 neutral as of 2050

Six Sustainability Themes have been defined to create the necessary change :

1.  Energy : Vision on energy use and reduction,

2. City Planning : Transition of the existing city towards an CO2 neutral city

3. Open Space : Planning the public space and waste management

4.  Mobility : Creating a shift from cars to more bikes and public transport

5.  International City : Positioning The Hague as the International Sustainable City

6.  Sustainable City Organisation : Sustainable Purchasing, Practice what you preach

The Hague roughly follows the ‘Trias Ecologica’, stipulates Henk Heijkers: 

  • Use less energy and raw materials : Sustainable pilot projects that involve housing renovation, new building transport projects, more about the city projects later.
  • Use renewable energy :  Purchase 100% renewable energy.
  • Compensate resulting emissions : A local climate fund is created to compensate carbon emissions generated in the Hague with energy projects in its own region.

 2. How is The Hague going to achieve its goals ?

 Among the initiatives taken by the municipality of The Hague are the local Climate Fund, a public and private cooperation called ‘Platform Duurzaam Den Haag’ and different innovative sustainable pilot projects.,

The Hague Climate Fund. ( Klimaatfonds Den Haag) The municipality has set up a special fund together with private partners Eneco (energy producer), Vestia (building cooperation) and HTM (public transport). The fund allows organisations based in The Hague to compensate their green house gas emissions locally (2). Participating organisations pay a CO2 compensation fee, which is 20 euro at date for every ton equivalent CO2 emitted. Instead of compensating emissions (far) abroad, which is often the case, the fund is being used for local projects. This is rather unique in the world. Think about energy generating projects such as solar panels on public buildings, or energy saving projects such as LED lights in public spaces and busses on ‘green gas’ (HTM).

The Climate Fund Den Haag is investing ‘carbon emission credits’ in local projects, such as solar panels on schools and the new HTM busses on ’green gas’ 

A second public-private initiative is Platform Duurzaam Den Haag. Partners jointly develop new innovative solutions that combat climate change (3).Topics are renewable energy, energy consumption reduction and sustainable mobility. Partners are :


Participants of Platform Duurzaam Den Haag

The Geothermic heating for 4000 new houses in The Hague South-West is an example of  an innovate sustainable housing solution : 4000 new houses will be heated by warm water (75 degrees) pumped up from a depth of 2200 meter. The expected CO2 emissions will be 4000 tons lower than conventional heating systems. First test drills have started and are promising.


Geothermical newbuilding project in The Hague South-West.(4)

In Duindorp, another innovative heating project is operational : Seawater of about 13 degrees is transported to heat and cool 800 houses situated in the city quarter close to the sea called ‘Duindorp’.


Duindorp Seawater Heating Project (5)

The municipality is very much aware of the risk of raising seawater due to climate change and the increasing risks of heavy storms. Recently a large renovation project has started. Objectives are to reinforce the dikes and boulevard, but in a way that it increases the pleasure and quality for to inhabitants and visitors. The Spanish architect Manuel de Solà-Morales has created a wonderful design for the new boulevard. The boulevard will be given different levels in height and will follow the undulating course of the old dunes. It will feel like the beach, village and harbour in Scheveningen will be closer together. 


Scheveningen Boulevard Renovation 2012 : ‘Veilig en Mooi’ : Safe and Beautiful : whilst upgrading and strengthening the sea dikes, the quality of the landscape will be increased for inhabitants and visitors (investment : 75 million euro, to be ready in 2013).(6)

A last example, is the Masterplan ‘Erasmusveld’ that is currently under development. The Hague aims to create the most sustainable city quarter in the world, by applying local water filtering techniques, energy generating systems with windmills and solar panels. Roundtables ‘Meet & Link’ are organised to bring future citizens and private investors together to discuss and develop ideas for transport, parking, waste management and so on.


 Erasmusveld, a newbuilding sector for 750 new houses currently under development aiming to become the most sustainable city quarter in the world, following cradle2cradle principles. (7)

3. How does The Hague shows its ‘exemplarity’ ?

Governmental bodies can play an important role to stimulate Sustainable Innovation in its various forms. One of The Hagues objectives is to ‘Practice what you preach’. Gribnau, Hermsen and Heijers explain how The Hague is demonstrating its exemplary role :

1). Purchasing sustainable products and services according to the Dutch Sustainable Purchase Guidelines. The Dutch government prescribes that for municipalities, 75% of all purchases should be ‘Sustainable’ as of 2010 and 100% as of 2015. For information : criteria have been defined for over 45 product groups and require suppliers to take into consideration 

2) Stimulating sustainable building construction. In all the Request for Proposals, The Hague is explicitly asking for Sustainable Solutions. Heijkers confirms that before 2005, the property developers have rarely proposed sustainable solutions, even if customers like the municipality asked for it. (This has changed since 2005, 2006. Two relatively recent buildings are the offices in Leidschenveen-Ypenburg (2005) and Leyweg (2010). Natural ventilation and warmth storage solutions are being used to reduce electricity consumption.


City newbuilding projects  Leidschenveen-Ypenburg (2005), Leyweg (2010) using natural ventilation and warmth storage solutions 

3) The program ‘The Green civil servant (‘De Groene Ambtenaar’) will be rolled out in 2011. It aims to bring down the municipalities CO2 emissions (currently 41Kton CO2/year) by mobilising its 7700 employees. It will focus on training the employees on energy consumption reduction (turning off the light and the PC!) and encourage bicycle usage.?) [AMG1] 

4. How does The Hague involve its citizens ?

 The Hague is involving its citizens in many projects for newbuilding, renovation and transport.

The current Exhibition in the City Municipality Center (8) is meant to inform and encourage city citizens and enterprises to change behaviour. It shows how The Hague wants to be exemplary, it explains the new renewable energy projects (windmills, biogas), stimulating public and transport as well as housing renovation. The exposition has moved in July to Hardenberg. More information about the Sustainable City Exhibition 2010 on :

EnergyThe city is stimulating renewable energy projects with  cooperations of citizens and energy producers. Housing Renovation is stimulated by subventions (up till 50k euros) to citizens and enterprises who develop new insulation solutions, notably for houses built before 1960 (‘portiekwoningen’). Transport Citizens are encouraged to use their bicycles and public transport instead of cars.

Platform Duurzaam Den Haag encourages citizens to participate in the Dutch national ‘Climate Street Party’ (9) project : Creating an Energy team with neighbours for housing renovation in order to become the ‘Klimaatstraat’ and win a party in May 2010 (budget of 500 euro), an energy saving washing machine or other energy presents. The Hague is one of the frontrunning ‘star’ municipalities, notably thanks to the renovated LED lights in all city farms.

Dutch National initiative to create Energy teams in city streets for housing renovation

5. What are Sustainability Trends ?

The cities representatives unveil their expectations and trends :

 Sustainable Building goes without saying now, observes Anne-Marie Gribnau. The Dutch Green Building Council has become a key player in the architectural world. The BREEAM certificate is a very important criteria for many public and private customers.

New business models Private property developers agree with public institutions to design, build and maintain buildings for periods of over 20 or even 30 years, and investments are made with this large timeframes in mind. Higher upfront costs are compensated by lower maintenance costs. Angood example is the renovated building of the Ministry of Finance in the Hague.

I want to thank Mrs Gribnau, Mrs Hermsen-Facon and Mr Heijkers for their participation.

Sources :

1. Strategy Paper ‘Op weg naar een duurzaam Den Haag, update March 2010’ (NL)

2. The Hague Climate Fund (NL): 

3. The Hague Sustainability Platform (NL) :

4. Geothermic new building project in The Hague South-West (NL): 

5. De Ingenieur, 10 juni 2005 ‘Kachel op zeewater’.

6. Scheveningen Boulevard :

7. Erasmusveld aiming to become the most sustainable city in the world

8. Exposition in the hall of the The Hague municipality building, February 2010, coordinated by the Ministery of VROM en Agentschap NL in cooperation with the Dutch Municipality of The Hague, copyright exposition : Buro voor Explanation Design 2010, Sander Dekker & Marjolein Triesscheijn

9. and