In the school of energy sobriety, real estate rarely figures first. However, its results are encouraging. In 2022, the average energy consumption of French buildings has fallen in most sectors, reveals Deepki's 2023 EGS index, revealed exclusively by Le Figaro. This is the second edition of this market study, the first European benchmark accessible to the public measuring the environmental performance of real estate with real data. It gives the value of energy consumption and CO2 emissions for the average of buildings as well as the 15% and the 30% most efficient, for different typologies of the commercial real estate sector (offices, health, housing, commerce, hotels and logistics) in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Benelux, Italy and Spain. And while the conclusions show an encouraging improvement, there is still a long way to go to achieve the goal of zero carbon emissions in 2050.
Of the five sectors analyzed in Europe, the only one to consume more energy is the hotel industry. Hotel buildings saw their energy consumption increase by 5.3% compared to 2021. According to Vincent Bryant, engineer and co-founder of Deepki, “this unique increase is representative of the resumption of activity experienced by the hotel sector in 2022, after the Covid 19 slump. In any case, the poor performance of the sector from an environmental point of view “should further strengthen the motivation of stakeholders to improve. Buildings that consume too much energy can quickly lose value or cause investors and customers to lose interest. The index particularly points the finger at luxury hotels, “the main contributors to consumption in the sector, due to the nature of the services offered”, affirming that “owners must find new, less energy-intensive solutions to maintain the same level of services ". However, with an average consumption of 198 kWH per square meter, hotel buildings are far from being the most energy-intensive. The sector is indeed the only one not to improve but is only the third largest consumer of energy.
On the second step of the podium, healthcare buildings, with an average consumption of 208 kWH/m2. But this silver-winning sector still stands out with a 7.2% reduction in its energy consumption. The dunce cap returns to commerce. And the sector receives a double bad rating. On the one hand, it is the sector with the most energy-intensive buildings with 224 kWH/m2. On the other hand, it is the one that has improved the least compared to 2021, with a drop in energy consumption of only 0.5%.
The sectors that are doing the best are offices (134 kWH/m2 or -6.3%), logistics (100 kWH/m2 or -10%) and housing (183 kWH/m2 or -11. 2%). Good performance that Vincent Bryant explains by the combination of “climate effects, more in 2022, and energy costs, higher in 2022”.
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On a European scale, “France is rather one of the very good students,” reassures the co-founder of Deepki. “In many ways, it is among the best, most advanced countries in terms of efforts to reduce the environmental and climate footprint of real estate.” Indeed, “the regulatory framework implemented is very restrictive, proof of the much greater ambitions in France than in Germany or Spain,” he says. For him, the initiative of the State Real Estate Department – one of Deepki’s clients – to measure its energy consumption and invest to reduce it is a French exception.
However, “being ahead does not mean that we can rest on our laurels”. “We are very, very far from achieving the 2050 objectives. We are seeing intensification efforts made by all players in the real estate sector, but we are not going fast enough,” explains Vincent Bryant. To get out of this systemic inertia, “we should double down on the creation of qualified jobs”. In France alone, the specialist estimates the number of construction workers skilled in energy renovation/construction required at 300,000. For him, “There is a huge difference between a pair of arms, and a pair of arms that know how to do things. Installing a window and installing a window that respects thermal insulation are two different jobs.” In addition to this, the question of materials remains crucial. In addition to construction materials, “the production of advanced equipment such as heat pumps and solar panels must be relocated. It is impossible to build a green building if we have to wait twelve months for key equipment. And whether it is the effort placed on the workforce or on the industry, “the local economy will be energized,” smiles Vincent Bryant.