Circular economy: soft power is possible
By Méka Brunel, CEO.
As Daniel Kaplan, from the Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération [New Generation Internet Foundation] (FING), points out: "There are no objects that are independent of the technical and social system in which they are born. On the other hand, there may or may not be transformative intentions".
This is how I would like to position this MIPIM 2018 round table on the circular economy. Talking about a circular economy and functionality is, today, about propelling the company into the Digital Age.
It’s about being positioned at the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution and an innovation economy, where new technologies offer huge opportunities to transform our business models and the "impact model" of a project. But it also means learning to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions our activities produce (target Factor 4); and reducing growing inequality.
The desire to switch from a linear economy to a decentralised economy - and to its corollary, sobriety - is becoming a choice of governance, investment and performance for entities. It is also an opportunity to put technical innovation at the service of a frugal, reasoned and responsible economy.
We must now seek to create value in the efficiency of the life cycle of buildings, construction sites and the city. On the one hand, it is about preserving "natural assets” (OECD, Green growth, 2011), and on the other hand, focusing on productive investments.
To be competitive, we must, therefore, innovate with the latest generation of materials and equipment. Between biosourced and connected building, the optimisation of the entire value chain and the creativity of the embedded systems that enable us to fight against obsolescence of the real estate stock and—at the same time—develop wealth at the country level. It is about investing both in green technology (Clean Tech, Green Tech) such as energy management software while simultaneously focusing on R&D cycles. Software, like Hypervision, enables real-time monitoring of the energy consumption of all of Gecina’s office assets and an ability to assess our responsible approach. But corporate and social responsibility (CSR) is part of a more global concept that requires a solution to the trifecta of challenges made up of attractiveness for investors, innovation, and environmental responsibility. It makes use of new financial models and is dictating new benchmarks which give the same worth to profitability and growth, and the impact for citizens.
Thus, if innovation has become a Holy Grail, it can only generate value if it is mobilised in favour of models drawn from contributory business. Attractiveness for investors, innovation and environmental responsibility are now intrinsically linked.
Paris, in this respect, vigorously defends its place as the Green Finance Capital, and Europe has 16 of the 20 global cities most attractive for their sustainability and environmental qualities.
There are many figures demanding a change in the (economic) paradigm, and all of them have had an impact on us: it is the cities with less than half of the world's population, for example, which generate 70-80% of the energy consumption and greenhouse gas production, and the forecasts for 2030 predict a global population that will need 40% more water—much more than the planet can sustainably provide. Through specific partnerships, like with Eco Clean, 400 litres of water per day are recovered and recycled for cleaning or watering green spaces on the site of Gecina’s Western Defence building. Recycling of resources, re-use of materials and products… Personally, I see an obvious potential in these concepts. But it is also a calculated and common sense potential : Only 9% of the resources of the current economy are recycled, according to the Circular Economy Gap report.
The environmental factor is therefore no longer merely an afterthought, and in the face of the challenges resilient cities face, it will be even less so in the future. The circular economy means offering the employees, city dwellers and families of tomorrow a living environment that is capable of responding to urban pressure. It is a new way of building society.
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