LA TRIBUNE – You were received on September 7 by the Minister for Cities and Housing, Olivier Klein. Have you informed him of your requests “incentives”, which was mentioned in early August during the presentation of the group’s half-year results, to unblock the housing crisis?
BERNARD MOUNIER- Sure! The minister, who received me for an hour, had the report of François Rebsamen on his desk, which included a panel of proposals. I don’t believe in forced solutions, but more in incentives. For example, let’s look for State-municipal co-management according to needs.
In other words?
Local elected officials are well aware of the problems but face the same concerns as property developers. They face a lot of rejection from their population in any new building work. A project does not necessarily bring them income, because a new population requires more public facilities, but we can work together on master plans. We must build here, densify there, densify elsewhere…
Will it really unblock the granting of building permits? ?
Yes! Even the new mayors are trying to do things differently, like the Greens who understand that they have to build. The private sector cannot do anything to encourage them but has the responsibility to take measures on its own to improve the quality of housing use. So we systematized the presence of balconies and heat pumps and developed good systems. In each of the car parks, we have installed electric charging points for local consumption, as we offer soft mobility trips. We even look at what residents are consuming at the neighborhood scale.
However, your project for a new district in Charenton-Bercy seems to have fallen silent…
Three years later… We bought the land, but we are still in discussions with the city of Paris and the SNCF. Everyone is talking about rebuilding the city in the city and mixed projects and not being artificial, but the concerted development zone (ZAC) is still not created. We plan to convert the warehouses there, cover the tracks and build 250,000 square meters of offices, co-worker and house, with shops, a crèche, a school, shaking, but the time of public actors means that the project is long. And this is when they are the first to send strong signals to create the city of tomorrow!
This city of the 21st century is also the one that converted the old offices into new generation housing so that the land is no longer artificial?
If we continue with the same permit process, the same taxes, the same building rights, we will never get there. Investors have returns and would rather keep an empty building of value than renovate it.
The 30% buildability bonus given because the Elan law of 2018 is not enough to make the operations feasible?
Not enough… In Haussmannian buildings or military barracks, the first, no problem. On the other hand, for the buildings of the 1970s, they remain very dilapidated with large trays and often become thermal sieves. For those, we will increase the buildability bonus and speed up the procedures. Why wait months or even years for building permits?
Are you defending this shortening of deadlines, if to avoid appeals, your fight?
We have 5,000 lots under appeal and counting! Those who submitted it were motivated more by dogmatic militant convictions than by questioning the project itself. These method professionals take advantage of the laws that are in place. How do you explain that in 2022, appeals can be extinguished with a check? It’s easy to create an association: you don’t bear any financial risk, unlike the promoter. Especially on the upper river, the elected official should have been the head of the consultation.
How to change the situation?
Let’s apply the Swiss model. Each mayor holds a public consultation where he organizes a vote. Once permission is issued, there is no other option. In France, appeals often fall when the work is done. In the desert of Nexans, formerly Compagnie Générale des Cables de Lyon, two years ago we created a real place for transitional urban planning. We present our partners’ programming plans, organize round tables and workshops with local actors. Around a bar and games for children, we asked local residents “Which neighborhood do you prefer? » Neighborhood associations came, but we can’t do it everywhere. Sometimes we have an option for the operations of 20 apartments…
Is it because the environmental emergency concerns our citizens, while the new “RE2020” regulations accelerate the decarbonization of real estate?
The claimants have a lack of knowledge of the projects and criticize us for making too much concrete, even though they are working with … wood. After that, they tell you that the operations are very high … However, we still need concrete for infrastructures, stairs and floors on the ground, but we have signed a partnership with Hoffmann Green Cement Technologies that produces concrete low – carbon. We use it locally in Vendée and Pays-de-la-Loire rather than Marseille. Why are concrete mixers still running on fossil fuels? Carbon is a civic fight, it has become a company fight.
Exactly, how do you act to reduce your carbon footprint?
Our operations in 2020 and 2021 emit 1,100 kg of CO2 per m², figures confirmed by two RE2020 design expert offices. Our future housing operations, in this year’s design, will emit just under 800 kg of CO2 per m² over 50 years of use. To pursue our decarbonization goals, we will continue to sign partnerships that will build with straw, build with soil… because there are many local initiatives. We can get there through innovation.
How accurate are you?
For example, we are preparing to sign framework contracts with heat pump suppliers and also ask them to study their production so that it is more virtuous for the environment. For example, so that their production does not consume plastic and their production is less energy intensive. Result: they will invest in ecological and energy transition for the benefit of the whole value chain and individuals who want to change the equipment. We will do the same thing with the manufacturers of carpets, paint and all the components. Algae-based paint significantly reduces – by almost 30% – the carbon content, compared to conventional paint.
Is it economically viable?
In residential real estate, professional margins fluctuate between 5 and 8%. We are doing very little, but we want to quickly reach the standards of the new regulations in 2025: 710 kg of CO2 / m², including 260 for the energy part and 650 for the construction part. Today, we aim at 750. With heat pumps, the energy part is reduced by 70 kg of CO2 / m², but it remains more difficult for the construction part with concrete (710…). To achieve this, we will generalize the digital model in all our operations – BIM – which is only used in 5% of the projects so far. This will make it possible to offer modular homes with a housing configurator where the future owner can, for example, choose the location of the partitions. With each change, the customer immediately gets the new price as the supplier is immediately informed of our needs and our orders. Now, these changes are made in the Excel spreadsheet. Tomorrow, it will produce productivity and products that meet the expectations of our countrymen. It has continued with our design operations this year.