The subject has probably never been so significant and sobriety so topical. The unprecedented rise in energy prices is part of a context of optimization within structures already subject to regulations, certifications and energy transition trajectories (1). But if the stake is long term, the question today concerns crisis management. The paradigm shift is here and we are in an economic, environmental and political momentum.
Optimizing what already exists: the first lever for energy savings
The exponential inflation of electricity tariffs commits the managers of private and public buildings to a process, sometimes at a forced march, of reducing their energy consumption. Remember that the price of energy in France remains much lower than that applied in other European countries. Achieving energy savings is based on three levers: optimizing the operation of existing systems through measurement and analysis, setting up automation and equipment control systems, sizing and carrying out work to increase the efficiency of the equipment and the building's heat.
However, the optimization of the systems in place alone makes it possible to target 10 to 15% savings in less than a year. Evidenced by the study conducted in some 2500 buildings which have targeted energy savings of 15% on average based on the analysis of their energy use and without recourse to renovation work (2).
Aiming for 10% energy savings is both a realistic and achievable goal. The approach is all the more profitable as the price increase will be accompanied by a return on investment of a few months. The tertiary park consumes around 220 TWh of energy per year (3): by reducing its consumption even by 10%, it is possible to save up to 22 TWh, the equivalent of four average nuclear units . There is plenty of room for maneuver and the first step is close at hand. Indeed, it is a question of aiming for energy efficiency by chasing waste, without even speaking at this stage of sobriety which implies reducing comfort or the level of service.
Despite the political ambition, the objectives displayed in the short term remain based on voluntary action and not on the basis of binding measures. In commercial buildings, energy savings depend on complex equipment control systems within an equally complex chain of human action. Furthermore, operators and users are not always trained in the optimal use of installations and responsibilities are often diffused. Who of the occupant, the company in charge of maintenance or the owner must "manage" the reduction of energy consumption? All at once ! Saving energy in buildings is akin to a collective sport based on a shared objective, a scope and defined roles, alignment of actions with objectives and coordination in the deployment of the roadmap. Easier said than done when we talk about energy, an intangible quantity...
Use energy data to understand and consume better
Empowering actors is a priority. For this, it is necessary to be able to mobilize stakeholders around data on simple, reliable and shared energy uses. These make it possible to identify energy-intensive items and optimize the operation of each piece of equipment, just as the dashboard is essential for regulating the speed of a vehicle. With the deployment of artificial intelligence and connected objects over the past ten years, it is now possible to easily collect quality data on energy use with a minimum number of non-intrusive sensors.
The adoption of these technologies should reaffirm the leadership of French start-ups, at the forefront in the field of energy data, and thus give France a competitive advantage. Today, the economic incentive and the political ambition are there: let's bet that this is enough to mobilize the players around this 10% objective, the first step towards sobriety. Why not take advantage of this impetus to acquire the tools for sustainable control of energy consumption? Wouldn't this be the opportunity to project oneself concretely into a new, more sober energy model in the face of supply issues, price changes and environmental urgency?
(1) The Tertiary Eco-Efficacy System (DEET) or Tertiary Decree, resulting from the Elan Law, imposes a gradual reduction in energy consumption for tertiary buildings whose surface area is greater than or equal to 1000 m²: 40% by 2030, 50% by 2040 and 60% by 2050 (compared to 2010).
(2) Analysis conducted in November 2022 by Smart Impulse with its customers, representing 2500 buildings, i.e. 20 million m² in 40 countries.
(3) Ministry for Ecological Transition, "Energy renovation scenarios for tertiary buildings, December 2020."
Tribune by Charles Gourio, President and co-founder of Smart Impulse (LinkedIn).