How to reduce energy consumption in the office?
by Paulina Jonquères d'Oriola
It is no longer a pessimistic projection: it is a fact that the cost of energy has already risen significantly and will reach new heights this winter. In companies, the time has come for "energy sobriety". But are they really prepared? How can they act at their level, but also at the level of their employees? At Deskeo, we have been working on this issue for several years now in order to optimise the energy consumption of the offices we provide for our clients. In the face of the crisis, the urgency requires us to go even further. We explain how.
Are French companies really prepared for the rising cost of electricity?
Not a day goes by without a press article mentioning the energy crisis. And for good reason, the situation is serious and quite simply threatens the economic viability of certain companies.
In the tertiary sector, one might think that the differences are less spectacular (except when considering companies with large data centres). However, the impact is far from negligible and the bill is likely to be high. "For example, in November 2021, we were signing contracts for around 80 to 120 euros per megawatt. Today, we are looking at around 400 euros for electricity, and it can go up to 1,200 euros for gas" warns Warren, Property Manager at Deskeo.
This is also an issue that falls under the environmental responsibility of each company: "We have been aware of this issue for a long time, but out of pure common sense (...) However, not everyone has the right reflexes, or not all the time. The current context is changing a lot of things, and the cooperators are now waiting for us to take action on the subject. Beyond energy prices, it is above all energy waste that is on everyone's mind", says Jonathan Dupuich, COO of Wemanity.
As part of its overall CSR policy, the company has been working since the beginning of September on an energy efficiency charter, in consultation with Manaëlle Perchet, Head of CSR. The charter sets out recommendations for the use of electrical and electronic equipment, as well as company-wide actions for the premises. Once the charter has been widely distributed, we will also put up signage. "We need to be able to show the positive impact of these measures to ensure that they are sustained over time, particularly in terms of the habits of the cooperators" continues Jonathan Dupuich.
The causes of this price surge are well known: they are both the consequences of the conflict in Ukraine and the blockage of trade, but, more worryingly, the inability of the French nuclear fleet to produce enough energy not to import it. Indeed, even suppliers such as EDF are no longer able to meet demand due to the closure of several reactors following previous political decisions to reduce the share of nuclear power in French energy production. And even if the government wants to start building new reactors as early as 2027, the catch-up effect will necessarily have consequences in the years to come. We must act!
Focus on the Tertiary Decree
In addition to the economic considerations that are putting companies against the wall, they are also being urged to be "sober" in their energy management. Did you know that the building industry is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in France? It is in this sense that the Tertiary Decree was promulgated on 23 July 2019. Its objective is simple: to reduce energy consumption by 40% by 2030, by 50% by 2040 and by 60% by 2050. It concerns buildings of more than 1000 square meters, and affects landlords as well as owner-occupiers, co-owners and leaseholders. "The responsibility is shared. At Deskeo, we work with landlords, and provide our clients with offices. These clients are the end users and are also involved in the process" says Dorra Fayech, Property Manager at Deskeo.
Currently, companies have until 31 December to make their consumption declarations on the OPERAT platform, and until the end of 2023 to change the reference year most suited to their energy consumption reduction strategy. "For the time being, we are in a data collection phase, there are no immediate constraints, but we must anticipate because this will happen very quickly," continues Dorra Fayech. Companies that do not play the game risk being blacklisted (the "Name & Shame" principle), and incur administrative fines (€1,500 per building for a natural person, €7,500 per building for a legal entity).
Rising electricity costs: what can my company do?
Although worrying, electricity cost increases have one virtue: they force companies to rethink their energy consumption. Indeed, there are many steps that can be taken with immediate and encouraging consequences.
But first things first. It is important to stress that the first steps to be taken are at the building level. "They are essential because it is already a question of ensuring that a building is well insulated to avoid any energy leakage" underlines Warren Clef. At Deskeo, we do not own the buildings, and the energy renovation actions must therefore be undertaken by the lessor. This is often the case as companies rarely own their premises.
Then we come to the scale of the company's power to act. Many companies have started to change their practices in this area, with efforts that are ultimately painless and very effective.
Energy optimisation at Deskeo
At Deskeo, we are committed to taking responsibility for energy efficiency. "We take responsibility for implementing optimisations at our customers' premises because our rent already includes the cost of electricity. It is therefore in our interest, in addition to our environmental responsibility as a company, to opt for the best in terms of energy consumption" continues Warren.
So these are some of our key actions:
- When you receive an electricity bill, it's hard to make sense of it. And yet, it's important! That's why we work with the company Deepki. They carry out audits to better understand where the consumption peaks are. "For example, it enabled us to detect that in one of our offices, the heating was on all the time, day and night", reports Dorra. In addition, Deepki can be used to create an alert when a consumption threshold is exceeded. And with the risk of blackouts looming this winter, this has become a real issue.
- To reduce electricity consumption on our sites, we have set up centralised consoles. They allow us to manage equipment such as lighting, air conditioners or heaters in a global way, to regulate the temperature (24 degrees for air conditioning in the summer, 19 to 20 degrees for heating in the winter), or even to switch off equipment at night. If there is no console, it is possible to organise a rotation system so that one person is responsible for switching off the lights or other equipment when leaving.
- Motion detectors are also invaluable in preventing lights being left on unnecessarily. We have them at all our sites.
- At Deskeo, we want to go even further by analysing the consumption of each piece of equipment. "We are going to carry out an energy audit on all our sites, in particular by installing probes" explains Dorra. The aim? To detect faulty equipment or non-optimal use, such as screens in meeting rooms that are left on all the time.
The result: "Thanks to the implementation of all these optimisations, we have reduced our electricity consumption by up to 30% at some of our sites. The return on investment was immediate the following month. This proves that the impact of such an approach can be significant when we have the capacity to measure, monitor and control our consumption", analyses Warren.
Our new offer to commit to more sobriety
Even if we take care to optimise our sites as much as possible, you can decide to commit yourself fully to our side. This is the objective of the green committees organized with our clients.
This year, we are also proposing a new offer to help you become more energy efficient. "We are going to share our energy profile with the customer in complete transparency so that they can better understand the increases in the load curve and explain what we have put in place to improve them, while at the same time engaging the company in turn," explains Dorra. Eco-responsibility workshops will help to make employees aware of all the little things that count, and signs will be put up in the companies to remind them. A green management committee will be organised to monitor the impact of the actions carried out over the months, and to suggest areas for improvement.
This monitoring is one of the reasons why Wemanity decided to work with Deskeo: "Deskeo has access to more information than we do about our electricity consumption. This information is essential firstly to see the impact of our actions, but also to ensure that we focus our efforts on the right areas. Secondly, on the automation of this optimisation. Our main subject remains the possibility of centrally controlling the air conditioning systems. This is where we have the most energy waste today" reports Jonathan Dupuich, who appreciates the centralized contact with a person dedicated to this subject.
10 eco-gestures to implement now
As we have seen, energy savings are achieved at different levels. It affects both the building envelope and the centralised management of equipment, but also the good habits to be put in place among employees. Here are our best tips to promote among your employees right now:
1. Turn off your computer when you leave
2. Unplug the chargers
3. Be patient when the air conditioning or heating starts up and make sure the windows are closed when the appliances are on
4. Only turn on the air conditioning if the outside temperature is above 28 degrees
5. Turning off switches when leaving a room
6. Deleting unnecessary emails
7. Avoid unnecessary printing and use double-sided printing
8. Set the dishwasher to eco mode
9. Switching off the coffee machine
10. Try to group together to do a video rather than use several meeting rooms
A few tips that are not rocket science and offer the opportunity for everyone to get involved. It is the sum of all these measures that will make the difference!
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