Besançon: the first green city in France
The city of Besançon (117 000 inhabitants) is located in the east of France in Franche-Comté region, at the heart of the newly created Rhin-Rhone metropolitan area. Recognized as the first green city in France, Besançon is known for its quality of life and its historical and cultural heritage: the city is on the Unesco World Heritage List since 2008.
Personal implication of key representatives of the city
The city of Besançon is active in the field of sustainable energy for 40 years and has been recognised nationally for the management of buildings and public transport. During the last years: Jean-Louis Fousseret, the Mayor of Besançon, signed the Covenant of Mayors (during the first ceremony in 2009). Previously, Besançon developed an Agenda 21, then got involved in a European pilot programme and was among the first French municipalities to receive the European Energy Award certification. Besançon might even become the first French city to receive the EEA gold label in a few months.
Public buildings and services
Besançon developed a strong experience in the field of renewable energies with the construction in 2006 of a 7,3 MW wood heating plant on the Planoise district heating network supplying 13 000 equivalent housing units. More than 50% of supplied energy is from wood. A master plan on heating network on Planoise and Hauts de Chazal districts was published: it provides strategic orientations by year 2020. In year 2012, a call for offers for a new wood plant (16 MW) on the Planoise network will be issued, starting to make the master plan concrete.
The city produces also photovoltaic electricity (42 MWh/year) and uses biogas from the water treatment unit of Port Douvot to co-generate electricity and heat.
The municipality of Besançon has a department dedicated to energy saving and has therefore been a pioneer in the operation of technical installations, the management of energy consumptions and energy contracts.
A low energy consumption nursery (Clairs-Soleils district) was delivered recently, an additional one at nearly zero energy standard will be on September 2012. Regarding public lightning, 2100 light bulbs were replaced in 2011 and 1000 more will be this year.
The most innovative approach of Besançon is probably the financing of its actions (buildings, lightning, photovoltaic…) by “energy saving” loans: the annual instalments are paid back thanks to operating revenues. Moreover, additional revenues come from energy saving certificates that the city collects: one half of this revenue goes to the financing awareness raising actions towards citizens, the other half to municipal actions. One million euros have already been invested and a total of 4 more million euros will be invested in the period 2012-14 (2,5 on buildings).
A climate and energy action plan (equivalent to Covenant SEAP) was decided in 2009 and approved in 2011, as a key component of the agenda 21. Ambitious objectives (3x20%) and actions have been defined. For example, comparative studies for energy supply (global costs, energy consumptions, CO2 emissions over 20 years) are made before every new urban development is decided – possible social impacts (regarding actual and future energy costs) are considered. The urban planning master plan includes several measures to ease energy saving and RES development.
Regarding mobility, the overall parking strategy leads to the progressive suppression of parking lots in town centre. Many « meeting zones » give the priority to pedestrians and bikes.
Raising awareness of local actors
In cooperation with the City of Freiburg in Breisgau, the operation « active families for climate protection » involves 200 families. Besançon also participates in the “3x20.org” platform where public and private actors and citizens can publicize their own actions.
Besançon lends measuring devices (wattmeters, thermal camera, hygrometers, flowmeters) to inhabitants. A control flat (Fontaine Eco) promoting simple energy saving measures at home is visited by hundred of people a year.
The Climate and energy action plan of Besançon is fully coordinated (piloting, objectives, action plans…) with the one of the urban area (Greater Besançon). The tramway is a key action led by the urban area on the mobility issue, in which Besançon is of course deeply involved. A cooperative car sharing system was created: 10 vehicles are available in 8 stations in the town centre.
An energy and climate monitoring centre and a local energy agency are now being developed at the level of the Greater Besançon.
As an important consumer of wood energy and considering further projects to come, Besançon started to work with local stakeholders of the wood industry to secure a sustainable supply of wood fuel.