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july 2013
guest feature article

The World Green Infrastructure Congress 2013 in Nantes:
A Key Feature of the Sustainable Cities of Tomorrow


By Marc Lacaille
ADIVET (L'Association des Toitures Vegetales)


All Photos Courtesy of ADIVET Unless Otherwise Noted

After Canada, Mexico, China and before Australia, France will host the World Green Infrastructure Congress 2013 from 9 to 13 September in Nantes, France, which was elected the European Green Capital for 2013.

Organised by ADIVET (L'Association des Toitures Vegetales) - The French association for green roofs and walls - under the auspices of the World Green Roof Infrastructure Network (WGIN), the conference is supported by many major partners involved in this area of industry (construction, landscaping, environment and research).

 Exterior view of La Cité Nantes Events Center, ©La Cité-Nantes (V Garnier).

Register before 15 July for preferential rates!  Group registration rates (more than 10 participants) are also available, please contact us below for detailed information.

Despite the unfavourable economic climate, the amount of green surfaces has not ceased to grow.  The potential is still considerable, and all those involved in our industry will meet to study and analyse how greening can be developed to serve:

• biodiversity in urban environments,
• the wellbeing and health of inhabitants, at home and at work (pollution control, combating the urban heat island effect, greater comfort in summer),
• the economy (building protection),
• environmental management in cities (rainwater management),
• employment

 Greenroofs in the French countryside.

The subjects of the conference have been selected, in their form and content, to take on board the expectations of several hundreds of professionals and decision-makers in the industries involved:

- training (two workshops)
- scientific and technical communication (over 20 sessions with approximately 70 contributors, of which 60% are from overseas),
- debate (about ten round-table meetings),
- field tours (close to 30 reference sites),
- exhibition area (25 exhibitors already, including market leaders).

The international and global approach, the issues of green infrastructure policies and of nature in the city will be developed for the publics for whom they are of particular concern: decision-makers and their advisors (public project owners, and architects, economists and town planners).

Scientists and technical experts will address all the questions relevant to the greening of infrastructure, with the following aims:

• taking stock of current techniques and knowledge
• sharing the practices of the different countries present to address shared issues.

Some of the great names of landscape and building architecture (Emilio Ambasz, Patrick Blanc, Michel Péna, Edouard François and others), and a representative of the European Commission (Karl Falkenberg, Director General for the Environment), will give their vision of the future of the greening of infrastructure and cities as artists, professionals and leaders.

 An overview of Nantes.


The rapid development of green infrastructure has to face a problem of quality, which means informing and training the parties involved.  French industry rules, which draw on those applied for decades in the German market, are as yet not sufficiently known and followed.

ADIVET, which has that task, is excited to open the congress on 9 September with a training day targeted at two key audiences, namely project owners and project managers on one side and application contractors on the other.

The aim is to help them make decisions and extend their know-how.

The greening of structures: why, how, and on what conditions?

The first workshop will provide decision makers, project owners, and infrastructure managers with tools for understanding and for making decisions, so as to:

• better integrate green infrastructure into construction and development projects,
• make green infrastructure successful over time, in the interests of project owners and users.

The long-term success of green roofs

The second workshop will enable those who apply the solutions (waterproofing contractors, landscape designers, etc.) to become more knowledgeable about the sensitive points of design and application, from the standpoint of the longevity and the achievement of objectives of green terrace gardens.

 Hanging Gardens - Jardins Flottants - plant installation in the city of Nantes;
Source:  Nantes Green Capital.


The work on 10 and 11 September will be devoted to taking stock of the techniques and knowledge (see details of all of the presentations on the website in English and French), particularly in terms of impact, debating case studies and completed projects in France and overseas, in different climates, in respect of thermal efficiency, rainwater management, technical innovations, plant and animal biodiversity, range of plants, etc.

With reports of experience acquired overseas, some presentations, round tables and conferences will address green infrastructure in terms of policies, tools and levers for development and the outlook for the future (training/skills, regulations, social dimension, and urban agriculture).

We will hear from the international contributors named above and other experts in their field (such as Joe Nasr for urban architecture, and Manfred Koehler as President of WGIN).

The congress will act as a place of meeting and exchange to develop product innovations and foster collaborations on 10 and 11 September, in parallel with work in sessions; the contractors in the business will exhibit their know-how and the fruits of their Research and Development.

REFERENCE SITE TOUR PROGRAMME: from theory to practice

12 September
Nantes and the Pays de Loire region boast many high-quality green buildings that have been integrated into urban spaces and projects or in rural landscapes.  A choice of four technical tour circuits with commentary will be available.

In addition to the technical performance and dimensions of each site, these tours will bring out the importance of the greening of buildings for project owners, who will be represented on each site.  A few examples of stops in each circuit:

Nantes, green capital
This programme will give the participants an opportunity to see nature in the city, not only from the standpoint of green infrastructure:

 One of the stops in the Nantes Green Capital Tour is the
Jules Raimu Greenwall.

• Town planning and green spaces on the island of Nantes,
• Greening of the roof terraces of an office building for the occupants,
• Eco-district of Bottière Chenaie,
• Farming in greenhouses, a booming form of roof exploitation,
• The aesthetics and engineering of green walls.

Between Sea and Bocage (Vendée)
This programme is a tour of greening solutions for integration into the 'natural' landscape and in urban environments:

 Place Napoléon, via Wikipedia

• The Historial de la Vendée (Les Lucs sur Boulogne), the swimming pool in Saint-Florent des Bois, and the Henri Simon centre in Challans),
• Redesigning of the Napoléon Square (La Roche sur Yon) by the Alexandre Chemetoff agency,
• Aesthetic and engineering approach of a green wall on the seafront (Saint Hilaire de Riez).

Chlorophyll valley (Angers)
Same urban tour and observation context as in Nantes, but this one in Angers, as the plant capital:

The Maison Saint-Gobain Multi-Confort; Source:, © Thierry Mercier

• greening as an integral part of eco-construction for homes (Saint-Gobain zero-energy house in Beaucouzé),
• the abundance of plants to serve the greening of buildings: TERRA BOTANICA theme park,
• greening of roofs and buildings, subject of experimentation and research in the Agrocampus Ouest in Rennes,
• tramway infrastructure experiments.

Third Garden (Loire Atlantique)
This programme combines a view of the future with the technique and art of gardens and landscaping in accordance with durable development principles:

 Roof of the Base des sous-marins (submarine base)
by Gilles Clément in Saint Nazare; Photo:, © Martin Argyroglo

• The gardens of the third landscape of the famous landscape designer Gilles Clément (submarine base of Saint Nazaire),
• A futuristic example of green walls (algae wall, University of Saint Nazaire), control over,
• A variety of aesthetic and technical choices for green roofs (Savenay, Saint Nazaire and Pornic).

13 September: Paris, greening seen from the Seine
Paris offers a variety of greening schemes that are both technical feats and sites that are symbolic of French know-how.  An eclectic programme (walls and roofs) will be on offer, where the experimental approach (AgroParisTech, Hotel Marriott in Boulogne) will rub shoulders with more seasoned systems.

 Paris greenroof: Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine -
City of Architecture and Heritage


 Rooftop farming on AgroParisTech (the Paris Institute of Technology for Life, Food and Environmental Sciences) -
L'Institut des sciences et industries du vivant et de l'environnement

From a boat on the Seine, the participants will discover the technical side of the greening of iconic buildings (the Fashion Museum, the quai Branly, the Cité de l'Architecture, etc.).


The congress will be marked by a series of events that will add to its interest and value.

National VegDUD day: role of greening in sustainable urban development

Heat islands, pollution and building up of land are some of the ills of urban development, in respect of both the environment and the quality of life.  The VegDUD programme, which is approved by VEGEPOLYS* and managed by the Institute for Research in Urban Sciences and Techniques with a dozen partners, studies plants as one of the possible solutions for sustainable cities.  The programme is aimed at studying the part played by plants in the areas of climate, energy and ambience for sustainable urban development.

An internal seminar organised within the World Green Infrastructure Congress will bring together some hundred researchers on 9 September with the purpose of debating the methodological approaches of the programme.

*competitiveness cluster with global operations located in Pays de Loire, which houses a concentration of businesses and research and training centres specialised in plants.

Elected officials' event

This event is organised by ADIVET in partnership with the two local authorities (Nantes Metropole and Region) and Val'Hor (industry bodies for horticulture, flowers and landscaping), as part of the national Green City promotional tour (promoting nature in cities, chaired by Eric Orsenna), and the Maison de l'Architecture of Nantes.  The congress will offer elected officials half a day to address a few key themes of the congress (biodiversity, urban agriculture, impacts and effects of green infrastructure, industry rules) in the form of successive round-table meetings bringing together decision-makers (project owners), project managers and experts.

The professionals of the future: Green Homes of 2100 ideas competition

Initiated by AgroCampus Ouest, Plante & Cité and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture of Nantes and with the support of ADIVET, the congress will be the venue for the award ceremony of the Students' Competition (Valhor, Angers Metropole, Pays de Loire region and Nantes Metropole) on the evening of 11 September.

Approximately ten of the competing projects will be displayed during the two days for the benefit of participants.

To date, 26 teams from 11 countries have entered the competition, which is aimed at encouraging future professionals working in pairs (particularly architects and landscape designers) to imagine green homes for the near and distant future.

Early Bird Discounts through 15 July & 6 August, 2013

We welcome you to join our exciting World Green Infrastructure Congress 2013!  Once again, register before 15 July for preferential rates and save up to 200 Euros; group registration rates (more than 10 participants) are also available, please contact Mrs. Laurence Kuhner, Registration Coordinator, by e-mail at: or by telephone on +33(0)1 44 64 15 15 for detailed information.

Reserve your preferential hotel discount by August 6!  After this date, the availability of the rooms cannot be guaranteed.  To check the availability and the rates online, click here.

For any further information, please consult the congress website at

Please contact us for assistance and any questions you may have - we look forward to meeting you in September in Nantes, France!

Marc Lacaille

Publisher's Note:  Learn all about what Nantes has to offer as the "European Green Capital 2013" in English and French.  This award recognizes and rewards the work and efforts of Nantes Métropole in the field of environmental protection and planned development of the metropolis for over more than twenty years.

Marc Lacaille, Délégué général, ADIVET

Marc Lacaille

Marc Lacaille has been the Director General of Adivet for two years.  "A graduate agronomist (AgroParisTech, 1975), after a few years in the agronomic research in Africa and in France, I made my career as manager of organizations (association, federation) in the sectors of training (higher education, in-service training) in connection especially with agriculture."

Established in 2003, ADIVET (L'Association des Toitures Vegetales) is the French association for green roofs and walls, and is member of WGIN (World Green Infrastructure Network).  Concerning roofing, the hard work and dedication of the association and its members in recent years (training/information/ experimentation) has resulted in a boom in green roofs in France, with more than one million square metres installed in 2011.  ADIVET is also recognized as a reference organization in its field and is co-editor of the French Professional Standards for Green Roofs and Terraces together with the UNEP (National Union of Landscaping Companies) and the CSFE (French Waterproofing Association).

"Je suis depuis deux ans délégué général de l’Adivet. Ingénieur agronome de formation (AgroParisTech 1975), après quelques années dans la recherche agronomique en Afrique et en France, j’ai fait l’essentiel de ma carrière comme dirigeant d’organisations (association, fédération) dans les secteurs de la formation (enseignement supérieur, formation continue) en relation avec l’agriculture."

Contact Marc Lacaille:
Tél : +33 (0)6 69 18 68 27

The opinions expressed by our Guest Feature writers and editors may not necessarily reflect the beliefs of, and are offered to our readers to simply present individual views and experiences and open a dialogue of further discussion, debate and research.  Enjoy, and if you have a particular comment, please contact the author or send us an email to:


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