Schaarbeek in Mayors Challenge final with drone project


With an innovative drone project that would determine the energy use of houses, the Brussels district of Schaarbeek has reached the final of an international competition for urban projects

Prize worth €5 million

The Brussels municipality of Schaarbeek is the only Belgian candidate selected for the Mayors Challenge, an ideas competition for innovative urban projects. To collect information on the energy consumption of its houses, Schaarbeek wants to deploy a drone that will fly over the houses and create 3D images of them. The main prize of the competition is worth €5 million, but the rest of the top five also gets €1 million.

 “We have many beautiful, old buildings, but they are often badly insulated,” said project co-ordinator Mélanie Rasquin. “If we win the Mayors Challenge, we would develop a 3D map of energy consumption and loss.”

The map would be placed on a website where residents could examine their own energy file and obtain advice on possible renovations and subsidies. The district said it could save its residents money while simultaneously increasing the eco-friendliness of housing, creating employment and developing a detailed picture of its patrimony.

Rasquin estimates the project would cost about €1 million. If the project wins the main prize, the remaining €4 million would be used to give residents loans to carry out renovations. Residents could pay back the municipality through the energy savings.

The Mayors Challenge is an initiative of the former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg. After a first American edition, this year involves only European cities. Schaarbeek is competing with 20 other municipalities, including Amsterdam, Stockholm and Barcelona. The winners will be announced at the end of the year.