Europe once again experienced an extreme heatwave this summer. Temperatures surpassed all-time highs in England and Scotland, and particularly high values were recorded in mainland Europe, in particular in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, France and the Iberian Peninsula. These increasingly frequent heatwaves are some of the extreme climate events likely to occur in greater number in the coming years (together with floods, storms, late spring frosts and hail storms) and which must be combated as of today.
These heatwaves also highlight how much progress has yet to be made in terms of energy efficiency, particularly in regions less accustomed to such temperatures. During this type of event, the first reaction is often to switch on the air conditioning. However, this solution has the double disadvantage of being particularly energy-consuming (air conditioning is responsible for 5% of the building sector's CO2 emissions) and of discharging hot air into the city, thus aggravating in the long term a problem that it contributes to solving in the short term.
It is estimated that energy efficiency could contribute 37% of the efforts needed to decarbonise the global economy by 2050. It is therefore a matter of urgency to renovate the buildings and infrastructure that consume the most energy (known in France as “heat colanders”), both in winter and summer. This is already a well-identified subject for the winter; these “colanders” can be easily spotted from the street after snowfall, when the heating melts the snow on the roofs of the most poorly insulated houses.
When a dwelling keeps its heat (or coolness) inside better, this means less energy used, and therefore less air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. It is also an issue of sovereignty, since geopolitical events have illustrated the importance of reducing energy consumption in Europe and its dependence on certain sources, particularly Russian gas. Finally, it is a matter of purchasing power for households, which are faced with rising energy prices. Solutions do exist and, in France, many schemes have been created to encourage people to renovate their homes, including grants and tax relief for work aimed at saving energy.
The RE2020 environmental regulation sets out targets for improving energy performance in the construction sector, with the aim of further reducing the energy consumption of buildings, reducing the impact of buildings on the climate, and enabling occupants to live and work in places adapted to future climatic conditions, in both summer and winter. This regulation is based on a progressive transformation of construction techniques, industrial sectors and energy solutions.
For Egis, this means, for example, accelerating efforts in bioclimatic design, developing the ability to harness the energies, such as wind, that surround buildings and use them as a natural and free resource to improve urban comfort, generate natural ventilation or even produce energy. These are the principles that inspired the renovation of the Montparnasse Tower in Paris.
Egis also provides its expertise in thermal modelling, data processing, technical consultancy and performance monitoring to enable its clients to guarantee energy consumption over time. Thanks to the digital twin, it is now possible to process and analyse building performance easily and quickly. This is what we did during the renovation of the Bréquigny high school, the largest in Brittany, with the installation of an energy management system that collects and processes the relevant data; the school can thus optimise its energy consumption in the long term.
Over and above building renovations, all our projects, without exception, must now be eco-designed. Even when our clients haven’t asked us to! This is the only way we can hope to rise to the challenges of climate change: to manage to live in a world where extreme events will be increasingly frequent, but most importantly to take steps to limit - or even reverse - this change.