For episode 3 of the seventh season of the Urban Chronicles™ devoted to the theme Climate Risk & Real Estate, we interviewed exclusively Guillaume Piton, Director of Ile-de-France Tertiary Promotion within the Icade Group.
Together, we discussed the major sustainability issues facing the Group and its strategies for adapting to climate change.
Green Soluce: In your opinion, what are the main challenges, particularly in terms of sustainability, for Icade’s tertiary real estate development today?
We assess sustainability according to 3 criteria: social, economic and environmental. The notion of sustainability lies at the crossroads of these three paths.
Icade has three main development priorities concerning environmental issues. The first is the Group’s impact on climate change related to the reduction of greenhouse gases, where Icade has promoted the use of wood construction at large scale for its tertiary operations. The second, it concerns the concept of circular economy where Icade, together with Egis, created a subsidiary called Cycle Up. Cycle Up allows the reuse of materials during the project implementation phase.
To illustrate this, I make reference to our recent delivery of the 28,000 m2 Pulse Building in Saint-Denis, where 100% of the false floors are reusable false floors.
The third is our action on biodiversity, an important subject for the Group. Today, 100% of our operations are subject to an initial Biodiversity diagnosis with the objective of achieving “positive biodiversity”. This means that once the project is completed, the biodiversity on the plot will be richer than in its original state. We were also co-signatories of the Act4nature, an act signed by nearly 70 companies that are committed to protecting, enhancing and restoring biodiversity.
The social criterion is another strong sustainability criterion for Icade, given that our key shareholders are Caisse des Dépôts and Crédit Agricole Assurances, a public institution and a leading mutualist group: our action is fully in line with this dynamic of general interest, territorial cohesion and inclusion. For example, we aim, on all our operations with a cost of work exceeding €20 million, to include systematic insertion clauses to offer local employment to people who have difficulty finding work.
In the context of our business, we can have a substantial impact on these different subjects.
Green Soluce: To what extent is wood an important development focus for Icade?
Wood construction is an important theme for us, particularly because it reduces our impact on climate change by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, a key element of Icade’s CSR policy. For example, the Thémis operation, built of wood, was awarded the Pyramide d’Argent prize on the low-carbon theme: this regional competition organized by the Federation of Real Estate Developers rewards exemplary real estate programs in terms of innovation, sustainable development and know-how in new housing and commercial real estate programs.
Le Thémis is a 10,000 m2 operation in the 17th arrondissement of Paris delivered last year to Covéa. It was intended to be exemplary and very ambitious on the low-carbon theme by being the first tertiary building to be labelled E+C- and Bâtiment Bas-Carbone, labels that were emerging at the time. These labels were obtained in particular thanks to the building’s structure, which incorporates 1,465 m3 of wood and can store approximately 1,500 tonnes of CO2.
For the construction phase, wood saved about 30% carbon compared to the average new tertiary building in France. Icade has also reduced carbon emissions during the operational phase by addressing the concepts of energy performance and renewable energy from the design stage: the building uses deep geothermal energy on the ground to cool and heat the building as well as photovoltaic panels to produce energy. This has resulted in an operational carbon economy of about 70%.
Green Soluce: How do Icade’s projects use digital tools to enhance the user experience?
Today, 100% of our tertiary operations are designed with BIM, which is for us a tool for optimizing both execution and operation. We recently signed our BIM charter, which was communicated at the BIM World last April and explains how to better design, build and operate.
Digital communication tools also play a major role for users of our commercial buildings. A year and a half ago, we moved to our Open ID headquarters where digital tools were used to support our managerial transformation. All users, including Comex, are 100% “flex office”. Collaborative working methods are encouraged and digital technology has its place: some spaces can be booked directly from the computer and others allow people to meet, all in order to facilitate interactions between employees and increase the efficiency of exchanges. Interactivity and videoconferencing connections are present in all these spaces. We have just received the OSMOZ label for our Open ID headquarters, which rewards our digital approach and the quality of life in our workspaces.
Green Soluce: Climate has become a central issue for the real estate sector, how do you specifically address this issue in your commercial real estate projects? And most importantly, how do you see climate change adaptation?
We approach the subject of adaptation to climate change in two ways: first, as part of the fight against the greenhouse effect and CO2 emissions and, second, by designing buildings that are as energy efficient as possible.
This is reflected in the certifications we provide for all our tertiary operations, in particular the HQE and BREEAM certifications. We certify our buildings with the aim of creating thermally and energy efficient buildings that promote the comfort, health and well-being of users. For example, we are also vigilant about the quality of the air in all our buildings and ensure that we choose high-quality materials with low VOC emissions.
Green Soluce: What is Icade’s innovation and sustainability ecosystem today?
Today, we have developed partnerships on all our key sustainability themes. These partnerships are a concrete expression of our mission to be a force for proposals in our market. Thus, we have created a partnership with CDC Biodiversité, Egis and REI Habitat to promote wood construction. We have also initiated discussions with Transdev on soft mobility issues. Finally, we have partnered with Ceebios (Centre Européen d’Excellence en Biomimétisme de Senlis) to integrate environmental and well-being issues into our buildings through biomimicry. Thus, by addressing all these themes, the Icade Group is committed to a sustainable approach (social, economic and environmental) and is at the service of all users, stakeholders in the city and territories.
Interview by Lucille Christien and Pierre Rostan for Urban ChroniclesTM
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