Raising awareness to the limit
The Walloon city of Mouscron is a pioneer in Wallonia. Not only did she work out a sustainable energy plan, she was also the first in Wallonia to sign the Covenant of Mayors. Magali Viane played the crucial role in this. BE REEL! spoke her about her job, her city and her ideals.
Magali, graduated as a graduate secretariat, has been working for the city of Mouscron for more than 20 years. Since 2015 she is the head of the Department of Energy. Next to that, she represents the city in numerous discussion groups and other projects. It is a very social job full of variety for which she has to travel a lot.
"I work from 8.00 to 16.30. My job is anything but a desk job. For example, I could not tell you what my average workday looks like, because I do something different every day. For all my projects I am responsible from A to Z. I like that. I like to follow projects in their totality. That brings a lot of variety. "
That Magali follows different types of projects soon becomes clear when she mentions a few. For example, she follows the actions of the SEAP (and later also the SECAP), she followed the pôle technologique for bioconstruction that was completely built with natural materials, and she founded a non-profit organization and training center, specialized in ecodesign, professionals and to train job seekers. Also in the future, there will be major projects to be undertaken, such as the European project TOMORROW, which brings together the roadmap of six European countries in one central plan and of course the BE REEL! project.
The actions for which the city of Mouscron is responsible within BE REEL!, you can read on our website. Energy and climate are already high on the city agenda, to say the least. Mouscron offers its residents free advice on energy grants and general information about energy saving. It also accommodates one of the 14 regional energy advice center. The city naturally wants to let its pioneering role evolve into an example for other cities. This is done by mobilizing its inhabitants to renovate their houses energetically, starting with the many houses built before 1970.
"It all starts with yourself!"
You already know what she is doing. Let's take a moment to consider who she is as a person: "I try to live as energy-conscious as possible. You would be amazed about all the small things you can do to save energy. I always say that many little ones, make a big difference. To give some examples: I have solar panels at home, I always do my laundry between 11 am and 2 pm. I also try to pay attention to transport. For example, I have already tried a more economical car to reduce co2 emissions, but it is difficult to find the right speed (laughs) "
People do not change their behaviour in one day.
"Energy and climate are themes that keep recurring when I have conversations with people. I think it is important to make others aware of what they can do. That is indeed what we are fully committed to with the city: raising awareness. I can get frustrated when people consume unnecessary energy. Leaving the light on when they leave a room, for example. Then I think, more is needed. But you know: people do not change their habits in one day. It is a long evolution to change their behavior. "
What are you most proud of, professionally speaking?
"That my work and efforts pay off, makes me very proud. To put it bluntly, ten years ago nobody spoke about Mouscron, besides football. Now I see several projects mentioning Mouscron as a pioneer city. Then I am proud that I suggested to sign the Covenant of Mayors back then. "
Renovation in Mouscron
Can you briefly describe the procedure? Imagine: I buy a house in Mouscron and I want to renovate, what do I have to do?
"First you go to the Energy advice center. If you go to the city hall, they will refer you anyway. Then you will talk to a renovation advisor, who will look at your renovation plans together with you and guide you further. "
Magali herself renovated her own house ten years ago. She can therefore properly judge the user-friendliness of the procedure. "My house dates from the year 1953. I insulated the roof with natural materials, placed new window frames with triple glazing, replaced my boiler with a condensation boiler and used ecological paint to repaint the walls. For me everything went easy, of course, because of my job. I know exactly what to do and to whom I can go for something. The man in the street must be coached more. "
10 years ago nobody spoke about Mouscron, besides football. Now I see several projects mentioning Mouscron as a pioneer city.
"When people talk about renovating their home (or not), There are always two arguments that keep popping up. The first one is 'I do not need it', which makes it clear to me that raising awareness is really necessary. The second one is 'I do not have the money'. It is therefore important to inform people properly about which grants and loans they can apply for.
In a way, I understand why people are reluctant to renovate. It is all quite complex to understand the documents that describe the different grants. That is still an obstacle. Another, more political obstacle is the dynamics in the change of laws. I will give an example: Last year, the grants that facilitated the purchase of photovoltaic solar panels were abolished. The co-operative COOPEM based their business plan 2017 on this. With such decisions you do not pull people over. "
Thank you for this conversation.