Silvia Devescovi works as an urban planner for the City of Sevran, in Greater Paris. She is the project manager of the Earth Cycle project.
1) Why did your city decide to apply under Urban Innovative Actions?
Sevran decided to apply under UIA because of its resolve to take an active part in the design of the sustainable city of tomorrow. The social and economic threats that Sevran has faced in the past twenty years have brought about a deep understanding of urban challenges, and they have triggered the motive and the ability to develop an appropriate response. This ability resides mostly in the determination of the City’s representatives and in the quality of the partnership that Sevran has developed. These two aspects came into play when the decision of applying under UIA was taken: one of the City’s longstanding partners, Grand Paris Aménagement, presented the idea of Earth Cycle to the Mayor. The ecological and innovative qualities of the project immediately struck the local representatives as being consistent with the values carried through the urban transformation process of Sevran. Thanks to the high level of European funding and the principle of advance payments, the City was able to engage in this project, which would have been out of its reach in any other circumstances.
2) What do you consider to be the most innovative element of your project towards a more Circular Economy?
Earth Cycle consists in creating a manufacturing process to recycle the extracted soil from local building sites, specifically the Greater Paris Transportation network, and transforming it into raw building materials.
Raw building materials have been part of construction techniques for thousands of years, but today they are only used in few, voluntary projects, which lack the qualities for large-scale duplication. Moreover, these projects use soil that is excavated purposely for being used as a material. Earth Cycle is particularly innovative in the fact that it targets the very reasons that prevent duplication, and uses soil that was excavated from local building sites and would otherwise be disposed of as waste. Moreover, this project aims at creating a new economic sector based on earth raw materials, and developing new craftsmanship skills.
Sevran will be strongly impacted by the works for the Greater Paris Transportation network : 330 000 tons of extracted soil will transit through the city, to be carried to increasingly distant waste-management sites or pits. Earth Cycle aims at using part of the extracted soil as a resource to build a more sustainable and humanistic city.
3) What are the main changes that you expect to achieve in your municipality with this project?
Thanks to Earth Cycle :
- Part of the soil excavated in Sevran for building purposes will be used to produce material for the nearby urban projects
- Three new technical standards for building will be filed in accordance with the certification body requirement, to enable quick and wide development of raw materials use
- New technical skills will be spread among various categories of professionals : masons, craftworkers, technicians, engineers, developers, architects etc.
- A complete and working industrial chain of actors will be tested, towards massive use of this material
- Significant reduction of CO2 emission is expected, due to all the positive impacts of Earth cycle on resources, logistics, transformation process and distribution
- The excavated soil will acquire a new status, shifting from waste to resource,
And, last but not least, the inhabitants of Sevran will be proud of living in a city that is part of the “Urban lab of Europe” and that contributes in creating better, more sustainable and more enjoyable urban planning and building.
4) Any conclusion words for our readers?
Altough the project has just started, there are already huge expectations on its impact. Project partners have embarked on a thrilling, crucial and somewhat scary adventure. We are grateful for the opportunity UIA has given us, and we are aware that the stakes are high. There is an urgent and vital need for the transformation of the building sector and we do hope that Earth Cycle will play a positive and definite role in this process.