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Brief Published: 22 Sep 2021

Paris Develops its First Carbon-Neutral Neighbourhood

Collective for Climate

In July, the EU pledged that by 2050 it would be the first carbon-neutral continent – an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Amid today’s urgent climate crisis, where cities account for around 70% of global CO2 emissions, Paris is taking action with its first zero-carbon neighbourhood.

Located at Porte de Montreuil on the eastern belt of Paris, the new, 35-hectare district will test ecological building strategies at scale. Leaning away from greenwashing techniques – such as simply fitting facades with plants – it instead focuses on natural building materials to achieve the net-zero goal. The aim is to reduce 85% of total emissions and go beyond carbon neutrality with the creation of a carbon fund. Eighty per cent of the superstructures will be built with cross-laminated timber (CLT, chosen for its carbon-sequestering benefits) and locally sourced stone; the facades will be composed of materials like terracotta brick, hemp and raw earth.

Built with flexibility in mind, the modular structures can accommodate citizens’ changing needs to minimise demolition in future – for example, offices can be converted to housing. Other planned amenities include a flea market and zero-waste food court, while low-carbon transport methods will be encouraged. 

This neighbourhood development comes at a time when cities are striving for climate neutrality. As of September 2021, all of the world’s major economies are failing the 2015 Paris Agreement commitments – with less than two months before the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Paris’ project (to be completed by 2026) should inspire future low-emission urban plans around the world.

See Surveying the Sustainable Smart City and Design’s Regenerative Reset for more on driving eco-minded urban innovation. Also look out for Curbing Carbon: Cross-Industry Initiatives, publishing on October 13.