Rexel’s Campus and Schneider Electric’s HIVE: two examples of energy efficiency in the service sector

energy efficiency, energy 3.0, electricity consumption, Schneider Electric, Campus Rexel

Rexel’s Campus and Schneider Electric’s HIVE (a French acronym for “The Hall of Innovation and Energy Showcase”) display the know-how of both companies and the numerous and varied solutions they offer in the area of energy efficiency and low carbon footprint. Prepare to embark on a trip into those two thoroughly organized hives…

Buildings certified to environmental standards

Located since 2008 in Rueil-Malmaison, in the Hauts-de-Seine département (West of Paris), Schneider Electric’s headquarters building has many remarkable features. It is both the first French building to be awarded triple certification ISO 14001, NF EN 16001 and HQE Exploitation in 2011 and the first building in the world to be certified to the ISO 50001 standard in that same year. Above all, it is the first building in the world to be awarded the highest level (outstanding) of BREEAM In-Use certification from the British Building Research Institute.

Rexel Campus, inaugurated in June 2013 and located on Boulevard du Fort de Vaux in the 17th arrondissement of Paris, meets the High Environmental Quality management standard (HQE) which encompasses integration into the neighbourhood, energy and waste management, air quality and comfort.

Pooling of resources and energy needs

By building these new headquarters, both Rexel and Schneider Electric aimed at gathering more employees in one place, thus improving business organization and cutting energy needs. With a 10,000 m2 surface area, Rexel campus is home to 400 workers. 1,850 Schneider Electric employees who used to work on different sites are now gathered in a single building, with a surface area of more than 35,000 m2. Its simplified architecture helps minimize heat loss; it also relies on a centralized energy monitoring system. In 2008, the year it was inaugurated, the HIVE used 53% less energy than all of the company’s former buildings combined.

Smart measurement and management

Centralizing energy management systems in the head office also allows for the implementation of a genuine internal smart grid. In both buildings, smart metres, measuring power and water consumption as well as CO2 emissions, are combined with real-time monitoring systems allowing for fine-tuning of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning. Most importantly, occupancy and outside temperature, among other parameters, are taken into account by the system, in order to curb unnecessary energy expenditure while providing employees with maximum comfort.

Shift in behaviour and new practices

In addition to the technical prowess of smart measurement of energy use, connectivity services at the workers’ disposal contribute to the highly innovative character of Rexel’s and Schneider Electric’s new headquarters. The HIVE, for instance, is equipped with a system which grants every employee access to the building’s energy consumption via their workstation or smartphone, no matter their status. This “nudge” is a smart move that helped shift workers’ behaviours, which was instrumental in cutting the building’s overall energy use from an annual 150 kwh/m² to 80 kwh/m² between 2008 and 2011, i.e. a 47% reduction of the building’s energy bill.

Local energy production

Finally, since June 2011 the HIVE has been covered with 90m² worth of photovoltaic panels; two thirds of the electricity generated is used to power various appliances in the building, while the remaining third is used to charge a local fleet of electric vehicles put at the disposal of employees. The same idea can be found at Rexel, whose campus includes three electric charging stations. During his visit to Schneider Electric’s HIVE on 21 October 2013, Minister of Industry Arnaud Montebourg showed himself convinced by this compelling initiative and stated that “tomorrow we will adopt an article that will make it obligatory for supermarkets and post offices to install electric recharging stations, as part of the Duflot bill for access to housing and urban renovation.”

The wide range of dynamic and efficient innovations implemented by Rexel and Schneider Electric in their “Energy Showcases” are undoubtedly practical examples of what can be easily achieved to make the service sector more energy efficient.

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