One Planet Living Principles

Geothermally Heated Villages Nature Paris Project on Track for 2017 Opening - By Glenn Hasek

Green Lodging News

Next spring, 14 years after being conceived by Pierre & Vacances Center Parcs and Euro Disney, Villages Nature Paris will open 20 miles east of Paris. The resort will be a showcase for green design, geothermal technology and will be based on harmony between man and nature. Villages Nature Paris will open with 916 dwellings, more than two-thirds of which will be cottages and one-third family suites. The dwellings will be owned by individual and other investors and managed by Villages Nature Paris. According to Dominique Cocquet, CEO of Villages Nature Paris, within five years the development is expected to include more than 1,700 dwellings.

Villages Nature Paris is expected to host more than 1 million visitors a year on its 444 acres. In addition to places to stay, there will be many attractions including the Aqualagoon covered water park and outdoor lagoon, shops and restaurants, farm, lake, spa and gardens. “We believe we will have mostly families,” Cocquet says.

The resort, which Cocquet describes as “cutting edge and in synch with what the next century will be,” will offer a more relaxing alternative to nearby Disneyland Paris. The priority market for Villages Nature Paris is France and the United Kingdom, Germany is a secondary market, and Belgium, Netherlands, Scandinavia and Middle East have been identified as opportunistic markets. “Our goal is that at least one visitor in three at Villages Nature Paris comes by public transport,” Cocquet says.

One Planet Living Principles

Ten years ago Villages Nature Paris was one of the first projects to embrace the One Planet Living principles and to embed them into its concept, design and vision. One Planet Living is a global initiative based on 10 principles of sustainability developed by BioRegional and WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature). One Planet Living projects aim for zero carbon. Villages Nature Paris partners are aiming for net zero carbon impact from all energy use by 2020. One Planet Living projects also have the goals of zero waste, sustainable transport, local and sustainable materials, local and sustainable food, sustainable water, land use and wildlife, culture and community, equity and local economy, and health and happiness.

Upon opening 100 percent of the heat demand (heating, hot water and the water for the Aqualagoon and outdoor lagoon) will be covered by geothermal energy. Compared to a natural gas solution, 9,000 tons of CO2 emissions will be avoided each year. Two wells were bored to a depth of 1,800 meters into the Dogger aquifer with water extracted from one well at 172°F, used to provide hot water centrally and then pumped back into the aquifer through the second well. The water will be distributed around the site in insulated pipes to provide heating and hot water for all of the houses and recreational facilities, including the Aqualagoon, as well as the neighboring Disneyland Paris theme parks and the Disneyland Hotel.

Cocquet says the aquifer will not be pumped for potable water for guests. Low flow appliances, rainwater harvesting and water recycling will all help to significantly reduce water consumption. Irrigation will be accomplished with non-potable water.

The list of green initiatives related to Villages Nature Paris is long. For example, it will be a zero car site. Once luggage is dropped off, guests will rely on foot and bicycle transportation. A range of strategies are being put in place to encourage guests to use mass transport to reach Villages Nature Paris and for staff to make their daily commute on public buses. A neighboring anaerobic digestion plant could supply renewable electricity to Villages Nature Paris. As of the Villages Nature Paris Annual Review report published in November, the construction site waste management has exceeded expectations by achieving close to an 82 percent material recycling rate, 17 percent energy recovery and less than 1.5 percent waste to landfill. When the dwellings are open, each will include bins for recyclables and waste, bottles, and a bio bag for food waste.

Supportive of Local Economy

Villages Nature Paris will promote the local economy, integrating materials and products manufactured by local companies into the project’s construction as widely as possible. Similarly, promoting local produce will be a key priority in the months leading up to the opening and after the opening.

“What we plan to do is network with local farmers,” Cocquet says, adding that eventually 50 acres adjacent to Villages Nature Paris will be acquired to grow some of the food required. Local farmers will grow that food.

Cocquet says construction on Villages Nature Paris is advanced. “We started all the initial grading work two years ago,” he says. “Vertical construction started in the summer of 2014. Today we are advanced with most of the lodging.” This fall interior decoration will be the focus. A total of 38,000 trees and 350,000 shrubs will be planted.

Villages Nature Paris will consist of what Cocquet describes as “recreational universes” focusing on swimming and water recreation to an enchanted forest, farm for children and four gardens of 50,000 square feet with themes of earth, fire, air and water.

Sustainability will thread through the guest’s entire experience. All staff will be trained in sustainability and how to communicate this. The site itself will provide an educational experience. Many activities will relate to nature, the environment and sustainability.

Villages Nature Paris will employ approximately 1,000 workers during the development of the first phase of the project and there will be 3,000 employees, direct or indirect, by the time of the opening.

Go to Villages Nature Paris.

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