Each month, we take the time to appreciate one of our users. We listen to how they’re leading their cities towards a more sustainable future. Today we give the floor to Simon Capron from the Province of Namur (BEP), a carbon tracker and climate pioneer.
🙌 Simon Capron is the energy project manager within the Territorial Development Department at the BEP (Economic Office of the Province of Namur). Apart from his management role, he is also a curious person and a bit (hyper) active. During his free time, you can find him renovating old stone barns, outside as an athletics coach, taking welding courses, visiting a museum or an exhibition... In short, he is very busy, both inside and outside the BEP!
🌆 But what does the BEP have to say? It’s an inter-municipal body active in the territory of Namur. Its functions are quite diverse: from the collection and treatment of the waste of the citizens of Namur to supporting companies and municipalities in their projects related to smart cities, energy, and tourism. They also offer assistance to the contracting authority for urban planning or architecture projects. The organization is active throughout the province, which includes 38 municipalities and about 500,000 inhabitants!
📣 What's the BEP's role (and yours) toward the municipalities?
Our role is to accompany, represent, and connect to generate a global movement with and for the municipalities. Our other primary function is to set up projects at the territorial level or respond to more specific communes’ questions. Daily, I follow the people responsible for the climate plan in the municipalities by accompanying them in their projects and their CO2 reduction challenges (carbon trackers). I, therefore, play the role of coordinator for the Covenant of Mayors and climate plans. We’re also in charge of representing the communes of the Province of Namur at a higher level, for example, at the Walloon Region level or in working groups.
💪 How does the BEP work on the climate plans of its municipalities?
We work with municipalities on their climate plan in both a proactive and a reactive way. Proactive because we mainly work on ambitious, more extensive projects, and we go towards the municipalities with elements to energize them. A typical example: putting sensors in all public buildings to control consumption. We also work reactively: municipalities call on us to define more concrete actions and set projects in motion. We also help them in their reflection process and accompany them in their projects (often by collaborating with private partners).
🌳 How long have you been working around climate?
I've been working on climate for 3 months, and I always say that I'm living proof of the BEP's action plan, the first point of which was to hire someone. As for the BEP, my colleague Nancy started by accompanying the drafting of the PAEDC (Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan) since the end of 2016. That's when it positioned itself to create the climate plan within the POLLEC plan framework with the Walloon region. The municipalities were asking some questions themselves, and since we're an ideal partner for them for many reasons, they called on us.
At the time, we didn't know where we were going. We didn't talk about the energy department, which came after a need for the municipalities to get down to business (after the assistance provided for drafting the climate plans/carbon trackers). As the FPC slogan says: it was time to move from climate plans to action, so the BEP helps them at both the strategic and operational levels.
💡 Which climate actions have you already taken with FutureproofedCities?
The first step was to join the platform, which is the backbone of the climate plan and serve as a dashboard for the municipalities. The second significant action: the 2020 Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs) that replaced current lighting with LEDs in municipal buildings.
💸 We’re currently working on the way to set up inter-communal EPCs. For those unfamiliar with EPC’s concept, its basic principle is that when an energy investment results in savings (of energy and money), this money is used to finance the project itself. The savings are used to repay a loan or a third-party investor, for example. The more you improve your energy efficiency, the greater the benefit.
We would like the EPCs to create a virtuous circle because there is still a margin that can be reinvested elsewhere when the investment is paid for. This money could be used to finance the (other) energy projects of the municipality, such as a carbon tracker. We also have a central purchasing office project to propose thermographic maps of the territories to the communes.
🏆 What was your favorite climate action so far?
EPCs are a great tool because it shows that investing in energy savings is profitable from a financial and climatic point of view. They’re projects that can be self-financing and a great message to encourage people to invest in the climate! I particularly like the fact that it enables the realization of ambitious projects. It’s aimed at significant renovations in the long run, and it’s one of the tools that will play a significant role in reaching carbon neutrality for many buildings.
👏 Since bragging is allowed here: What do you think other FPC users can learn from you?
At the BEP, we see ourselves as project managers. We are there to support the municipalities in their actions. That's why our communes trust us: we make things happen. They know that if they knock on our door, we'll never leave them hanging.
🤗 I think that doing things on a province-wide basis makes a lot of sense, mainly because the communes feel less alone. There's a spirit of community and collaboration. The climate plan is federated at a territorial level, and this provides a lever that allows our small rural municipalities to ask themselves what role they can play in this. The BEP view will enable us to see things clearly. We want to be federative and ambitious to create movement within our province.
😉 Editor's note: Of course, the BEP is also a pioneer in this field, as it’s the first Walloon province to use FutureproofedCities to help its municipalities implement their climate plans and monitor their carbon trackers. An excellent example for neighboring provinces.
💡 What inspired you the most concerning climate (change)?
The first person who made me realize the challenge of climate change was my college professor, who explained the whole concept of global warming and made me aware of the problem’s enormity. Afterwards, things like the film "Demain" (Tomorrow) shaped my way of thinking. I came out with the realisation: "The key is here. We have to focus on things that are going in the right direction and what we can do to push those even further.” What inspires me is not the shocking images but the positive ones, showing everyone which positive changes are possible. 🌱
😀 A funny anecdote to close with?
I think it's striking how doing this job changed me personally as well. I take public transport more than before, a reflex I didn't have yet. 🚋 Being in this spiral and meeting motivated people makes me take many climate actions myself. Not long ago, I borrowed (read: stole 😅) my mom's electric bike, which she had just won in a contest, to ride to work. Of course, after experiencing that the electric bicycle was a super practical and nice solution for commuting, I've decided that I'll buy one myself and will give it back to her. 😉
☀️ FutureproofedCities allows all municipal services to work together on a single online tool to carry out more climate actions and communicate them to their citizens.
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