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“City of Tomorrow”: Exploring 1,000+ Solutions for a Sustainable Urban Future

“City of Tomorrow”: Exploring 1,000+ Solutions for a Sustainable Urban Future
Inauguration of the City of Tomorrow exhibition at the Cité des sciences et de l'industrie, Paris, September, 2023 - © Arnaud Robin

The ‘City of Tomorrow’ exhibition by Solar Impulse showcases over 1,000 innovative solutions, guiding visitors through a transformative exploration of eco-friendly urban practices and groundbreaking technologies.

From September 20, 2023, to January 7, 2024, the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie in Paris hosts “City of Tomorrow,” an exploration of 1,000+ solutions, an exhibition designed by the Solar Impulse Foundation. Complementing the urgency of climate action, this exhibition focuses on the challenges of ecological transition in urban environments, inviting visitors to explore the myriad innovative approaches that today’s technologies offer to protect the environment while fostering economic development.

Visitors walk through a rich tapestry of efficient proposals in realms like energy, water, construction, sustainable housing, mobility, and waste management. In tandem with the pioneering spirit embodied by the Solar Impulse solar aircraft, “City of Tomorrow” unfurls a panorama of possibilities, contributing to the construction of a desirable future.

The current era witnesses profound shifts, and as cities shoulder the responsibility for 75% of CO2 emissions, there’s a need for them to embrace ecological transition. “City of Tomorrow” embraces this imperative transformation, posing a challenge to our collective audacity and our shared capacity to translate innovative solutions into tangible applications. It prompts contemplation on the journey from mere discourse to the practical implementation of innovative solutions capable of mobilizing individuals, entrepreneurs, and policymakers. The goal is clear – the construction of a city that is clean, collective, and sustainable.

Inauguration of the City of Tomorrow exhibition at the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie, Paris, September, 2023 – © Arnaud Robin

The Mastermind Behind the Initiative, Leading to 1500+ Solutions

Guided by the indomitable eco-explorer Bertrand Piccard, the exhibition offers a unique vantage point into urban ecological challenges and available sustainable solutions. Drawing upon five years of exhaustive research, the Solar Impulse Foundation has unearthed over 1,500 ecological, realistic, efficient, and economically viable solutions from every corner of the globe. Rigorously evaluated by independent experts for both ecological and economic performance, these solutions stand as beacons, worthy of widespread implementation to replace polluting practices.

Initiated in Switzerland in 2021, the “1,000+ Efficient Solutions” challenge, spearheaded by Bertrand Piccard and the Solar Impulse Foundation, identified solutions that received the “Efficient Solution” label. This label, pioneering in its integration of environmental protection and economic development, spans water, energy, mobility, infrastructure, industry, agriculture, and the circular economy. To date, over 1,500 “Efficient Solutions,” rigorously evaluated by independent experts, are highlighted on the Foundation’s website.

Learn more about these efficient solutions by browsing the “Solutions Explorer”.

The exhibition unfolds against a backdrop of critical statistics, showcasing the enormous impact of urban areas on global energy demand, water consumption patterns, carbon emissions from the construction sector, and the sheer volume of solid waste generated annually.

Solutions address challenges with energy and power grids, water and urban infrastructure, construction and building life cycles, sustainable housing paradigms, mobility and logistics conundrums, and innovative waste management strategies. As “City of Tomorrow” casts its illuminating spell in Paris, it acts as a compelling rallying cry, urging cities to embrace innovative solutions for a sustainable urban future.

Inauguration of the City of Tomorrow exhibition at the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie, Paris, September, 2023 – © Arnaud Robin

ENERGY AND ELECTRICAL NETWORK: Solutions for a Sustainable Power Future

Within the domain of producing electricity through renewable energies, various groundbreaking technologies are contributing to a cleaner and more sustainable future. Among them is the Windbox by Wind My Roof, a clever module designed to harness the wind energy potential on rooftops. HeliaSol by Heliatek offers an ultra-light and flexible organic solar solution, transforming curved and non-linear surfaces into energy generators. 

In the realm of heating and cooling powered by renewable energies, Celsius Energy by SLB presents a system that utilizes renewable underground energy, making it compatible with most buildings. Covers Energy Pack by Covers offers a compact ventilation concept with heat recovery through a heat pump, extracting warmth from indoor air to produce domestic hot water and heating for spaces.

Windbox by Wind My Roof. Courtesy of the brand.
HeliaSol by Heliatek

For storing and integrating renewable energies, General Electric presents Pumped Hydro Storage, a solution utilizing a hydroelectric power plant as a colossal water battery to balance the electrical grid. The AEA Cabinet by Sirea optimizes photovoltaic self-consumption by utilizing recycled batteries and self-controlling charge/discharge functions with an energy manager. Geostorage by Accenta utilizes artificial intelligence to optimize the thermal energy production efficiency of a building based on real-time demand.

These cutting-edge solutions, originating from France, Germany, and Belgium, exemplify the transformative power of innovation in the quest for a sustainable and resilient energy landscape.

CONSTRUCTION AND SUSTAINABLE HOMES: Innovations in Building

In the dynamic landscape of constructing eco-friendly and sustainable homes, numerous groundbreaking solutions are making waves. Le Fossilisateur by Néolithe in France introduces a transformative method that turns non-recyclable waste into stones for the construction sector. This mobile treatment unit ingeniously sets up directly at recycling centers, revolutionizing waste utilization.

IsoHemp from Belgium brings forth the Hempcrete block, an industrial process that produces blocks made from 100% natural hemp. This material, used in construction and renovation, provides optimal thermal and acoustic insulation, humidity regulation, and boasts a unique positive CO2 balance.

Hempcrete block by IsoHemp. Courtesy of the brand.

Bekaert, also based in Belgium, presents Dramix, a concrete reinforcement solution utilizing steel fibers instead of traditional methods. This innovation proves economical for various applications such as floor coating, tunneling, and pre-fabrication. A nice example can be seen in the MuCem in Marseille, France.

Transitioning to sustainable housing solutions, Dom’Innov in France introduces Blokiwood—a system of 100% wood prefabricated load-bearing walls. Offering a customizable and Lego-like assembly, Blokiwood embodies the essence of sustainable, bio-sourced, and high-performance housing.

Saint Gobain’s ORAÉ, another French contribution, showcases low-carbon glass with a high recycled glass content. Balancing performance and sustainability, ORAÉ significantly reduces carbon emissions during its usage phase, particularly in cooling, heating, and lighting applications.

In the quest for energy self-sufficiency, DualSun, a French innovation, presents a hybrid solar panel known as DualSun. This ingenious technology simultaneously produces electricity and hot water, contributing to a reduction in overall building energy consumption. The solution maximizes the utilization of residual heat, ensuring efficient hot water production.

DualSun solar panels. Courtesy of the brand.
SunStyle solar panels. Courtesy of the brand.

SunStyle, also hailing from France, introduces photovoltaic solar tiles that seamlessly integrate into the architectural aesthetics of historical and modern buildings. This innovation ensures the generation of clean electricity while maintaining the visual appeal of structures. SunStyle takes pride in a quick and simplified installation process, adding convenience to sustainable energy solutions.

As we absorb the wealth of possibilities within this exploration of 1,000+ solutions, the imperative becomes clear: These efficient, realistic, and economically viable innovations hold the key to a more sustainable and harmonious urban existence.

WHITE PAPER: Solutions Guide for Cities

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