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Interview about Clim’Ability Design

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  • Interview about Clim’Ability Design

Interview by Stéphanie Robert [www.exceptionfaite.fr] for the INSA Strasbourg, originally published in french at the research blog of INSA Strasbourg [recherche.insa-strasbourg.fr/climability-design-accompagner-ladaptation-au-changement-climatique-des-pme-et-pmi/]

In the continuity of Clim’Ability (2016-2019), the Interreg Clim’Ability Design (2019-2022) project offers companies in the Upper Rhine region devices to innovate, outline solutions and adaptation strategies to deal with the climate crisis. 

Explanations with Florence Rudolf, sociologist and university professor at INSA Strasbourg, coordinator of the project.

Florence Rudolf. Crédit : Jean-Louis Hess

Clim’Ability Design brings together French, German and Swiss social science researchers and is part of the continuation of the work undertaken with Clim’Ability. What does this new project consist of and how does it relate to the previous one?

We wanted to continue the work started with Clim’Ability, also an Interreg project. For three years, we worked to raise awareness of climate change among Upper Rhine companies, especially SMEs. This is important because they often don’t have the resources or the time to monitor the data and move towards foresight. With the other consortium partners (Météo France, CCI Alsace, the Universities of Haute-Alsace, Fribourg, the University of Basel, etc.), we sought to identify their sensitivities, their vulnerabilities, and we developed four open source diagnostic tools: questionnaires, cartography, quizzes, etc. These are also awareness-raising tools through which they can appropriate knowledge based on their case, their company, their site. The aim was to make scientific information accessible to companies. It is effective, because it is more applied and relevant. These tools make it possible to outline adaptation solutions.

We have progressively focused on the most sensitive and significant sectors of the region such as logistics, the timber industry, the economy of the mid-mountain region…

In three years, we had barely cleared the land and were starting to reap the benefits. In particular, we identified that SMEs were particularly sensitive to heat waves. This came out massively. They disorganize the work, increase drudgery, reduce concentration, and have harmful effects on humans and machines. This is why we are focusing on the repercussions of this impact in Clim’Ability Design, by installing sensors on industrial sites. We want to focus more on these areas of economic activity rather than on individual companies, and to identify areas of thermal inertia and to propose developments accordingly. The Clim’Ability Design project fully integrates the territorial dimension of climate change and its impacts.


What is it? How will you conduct your study?

We are canvassing industrial sites that are willing to host our study over the long term. We seek to establish diagnostics and reading grids of these sites, with regard to the problems of heat islands, to think of another layout, more qualitative, ergonomic and adapted. At the scale of the company and its environment. We will equip them with sensors to objectify climatological measurements (temperature, humidity, wind speed, albedo [the reflective power of a surface]…). At the end, we would like to propose a catalog of possibilities: from simple and inexpensive proposals (adapting one’s workstation for example) to architectural, spatial and urban planning developments (planting of hedges, vegetation, etc.). Discussions are underway with the Marché Gare in Strasbourg, sites in Basel and companies that have contributed to Clim’Ability.

In addition, we are going to organize “innovation forums”: working groups of around twenty players will explore professional scenarios to develop innovative strategies and possible solutions in response to crises. One will be based on inventive design, one of INSA Strasbourg’s areas of research (team CSip d’ICube),with the Autonomous Port of Strasbourg to reflect on the issue of low water. In another one, the CCIAE Alsace team will explore the method of creativity Fasit.

These methods, often limited to the design of a new product, or even new equipment, will be applied on a territorial scale. They will be tested in more complex situations.

The third combines a serious game developed by the Jardin des sciences de l’Université de Strasbourg and an exhibition, Critical zone, à Karlsruhe.The principle is to imagine and discuss responses or strategies in the face of an unprecedented crisis situation, triggered by climatic or other stresses. During these Business Days, the managers of companies and associations are invited to agree on the consequences of these events, to identify the main issues to be safeguarded, to preserve… This critical situation takes into account the potential vulnerabilities of our economic and social models. From this point of view, the Covid crisis is an experience that has allowed us to measure the imperative need to focus on the ecological transition.

Precisely then, with the coronavirus pandemic, reality meets fiction… Here, it is no longer a serious game, the crisis is very real. How does it impact your project and the companies you follow?

Indeed, we are caught up with reality. We first had to “land”, as Bruno Latour, an eminent philosopher and science anthropologist, one of the curators of the exhibition, points out. We established a new roadmap for the two months of confinement. We took the opportunity to conduct a survey of seven companies that we were following. Three lessons emerged:

Photographic series by the design team of the Hochschule Offenburg (media ecology laboratory) as part of the Clim'Ability Design project. Here at the waste incineration plant in Eschbach, near Freiburg. Credit: Daniel Fetzner
Photographic series by the design team of the Hochschule Offenburg (media ecology laboratory) as part of the Clim'Ability Design project. Here at the waste incineration plant in Eschbach, near Freiburg. Credit: Daniel Fetzner

The first is that they are broken to crisis situations, but to circumscribed crises. Never before had they imagined a crisis that was so global, worldwide and affecting all sectors of activity. For them, the most anxiety-provoking was the beginning of the crisis, because it was filled with uncertainty, uncertainty and ignorance. The government’s decision-making reassured them: an authority is expressing itself and taking a position. Finally, those who best overcome this ordeal are those who cultivate trust, team cohesion and a good working atmosphere. Teams that know and appreciate each other are ready to contribute, to make an effort, and the crisis even reinforces this sense of cohesion.

In Clim’Ability Design, we seek to offer situations to get out of the daily routine. This crisis has forced us to break with the past. It questions our capacity for resilience, puts us in a learning situation… We want our tools to enable this, but without pain, death or box closures.

Clim’Ability Design is co-financed by the European program Interreg V Upper Rhine, the Greater East Region, Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Switzerland.

Carried by INSA Strasbourg, it involves the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie Alsace, Météo France, the universities of Bâle, Freiburg, Haute-Alsace (UHA), de Lucerne, ATMO Grand Est, Hydreos, Port Autonome de Strasbourg, Hochschule Offenbourg, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz, yhe Cantons Bâle Ville et Bâle-Campagne and the Conféderation Suisse (NPR/CTE).