Finally getting tangible experience on why Grenoble is the European Green Capital 2022

 

As some of you may know, I am part of the technical evaluation team for the European Green Capital and the European Green Leaf Award, responsible to look at cities’ climate change adaptation actions. Usually, that means ...

 

...reading through staples of application papers and guessing from the descriptions how things may perform and develop on the ground. In particular the situation around COVID 19 has hampered us to visit any city. Therefore, I was very lucky to have had the opportunity now to visit Grenoble, the European Green Capital 2022, as part of a study visit of the URBACT project UrbEnPact, another project with 8 European cities I am involved in. I finally got a glimpse on the many inspiring measures which Grenoble has already implemented. 

 

 

While blessed with beautiful mountain ranges to all sides, the city struggles with urban density, heat in the summer and air pollution due to the blocking mountains around. Regarding climate adaptation, I usually urge cities to boost green infrastructure to bring outdoor temperatures down and use thereby every niche possible. When stepping out of the train in Grenoble at 28C (already in mid-May!), I was overwhelmed by all the green around me, and I could easily feel its cooling effect. Equally impressively has been the completely pedestrianized historic centre and the cycling infrastructures, with broad cycling roads, which I only knew from Copenhagen so far. Sharing bikes are even equipped with children seats!

 

The next day, I learned about more measures in two of the city’s eco-districts – Bonne and Cambridge with impressive achievements in energy efficiency and lots of green. In particular, the district Bonne on a former Military area and finished around 2008, shows wonderful green and blue areas of many different types. Native wildlife as well as stormwater retention are integral part of the design. Many of the areas are accessible to the general public. And what impressed me in particular was that these areas are not exclusive for higher income people; 40% of it is reserved for social housing. There is much more to say about, but I hope the pictures speak their own language.