Energy efficiency is in EDF’s genetics


  • World leader in electricity production and a prominent actor in energy trading and energy services
  • Installed capacity of 140 GW electricity, the Group produced 654 TWh of electricity in 2013, 85% of which was carbon-free
  • Active in 26 countries, with headquarters in Paris, France
  • Employees: 158,467
  • Revenue: €75.6 billion (2013)
  • EDF real estate holdings In France, 4.5 million m², 60% owned, 40% leased; approximately 0.5 million m² in the rest of the world, mainly in Europe.
  • EEB Manifesto signed in 2009

Jean-François Vaquieri - Senior Vice President of the EDF SA Real Estate Division

Energy efficiency is in EDF’s genetics



  • World leader in electricity production and a prominent actor in energy trading and energy services
  • Installed capacity of 140 GW electricity, the Group produced 654 TWh of electricity in 2013, 85% of which was carbon-free
  • Active in 26 countries, with headquarters in Paris, France
  • Employees: 158,467
  • Revenue: €75.6 billion (2013)
  • EDF real estate holdings In France, 4.5 million m², 60% owned, 40% leased; approximately 0.5 million m² in the rest of the world, mainly in Europe.
  • EEB Manifesto signed in 2009

Jean-François Vaquieri - Senior Vice President of the EDF SA Real Estate Division


Vision, Achieve Executive Commitment

As a major producer and distributor of power and an organization providing energy efficiency services- we have to be exemplar- there was no question about this.

EDF is a world leader in low-carbon electricity production. The Group intends to reinforce this leading position by investing even more in low-carbon technologies, such as renewable resources, as well as by providing energy-efficiency services to help our customers lower not only their bills, but also their environmental impact. As a promoter of energy efficiency, EDF must begin by setting a good example, in particular on its own premises. This is based mainly on internal actions, as energy efficiency is already part of EDF’s genetics.

Because we supply energy we know the difficulties involved in its production and distribution, we know that it is a rare and valuable commodity and are deeply convinced that it should not be wasted. Of course the energy efficiency program was also an opportunity for us to reduce our operating expenses.


Collect data and conduct preliminary analysis

Since 2007, the EDF Real Estate Division has been implementing large programs to improve the knowledge of its group buildings stock, mainly in France, but also in other countries—especially the UK. This program encompasses data collection (energy consumption, meteorological data, etc.) and descriptions of the buildings and of their main equipment, audits, etc.


We do a regular survey of our buildings as well as audits. The audits are more in depth and often targeted with regards to specific projects; for example if we are considering changing the windows, the lighting, the heating and cooling equipment or the insulation. The surveys cover the quality of building services in each site including heating, cooling and comfort, along with cleaning, security and further outsourced facilities services.

When auditing we target the main parameters that impact on energy efficiency, building fabric (windows, roof, the composition of the walls), and how heat is produced (the type and age of equipment used and its condition). We also look at how heat and cooling are distributed within the building (the air ducts, fan-coil units, AHUs etc.), and at the regulation of these systems- is there a BMS in operation, is it setup correctly?

Develop an Energy Strategy

We did not wait for all of the information to come in before taking action to improve the performance of our buildings. Since 2007, we have been focusing on three main types of actions:

  • Improving technical management of our buildings and their equipment—reviewing and adjusting set points, stopping heating and cooling outside of regular business hours, etc.;
  • Optimizing building occupancy, moving from inefficient to efficient buildings;
  • Refurbishing some older buildings, either directly, if owned by EDF, or in partnership with their owners.

Define Energy Goals

Having considerably improved our knowledge of our buildings stock, we formalized our commitment in 2012, first by defining objectives included in the EDF sustainable development policy for 2013, 2014 and 2015. One of these objectives is to reduce energy consumption in our French office buildings by 8 GWh/year. Second, at the end of 2013, EDF signed a Charter for Energy Efficiency of Commercial Buildings. This Charter is proposed by the French government to building sector actors (developers, managers, occupants, etc.) to publicly engage them in the development of energy efficiency in the built environment. In the framework of this Charter, EDF committed to reducing the energy consumption of its office buildings by 30% from 2006 to 2020.

Common EEMs

EDF Tower in La Défense

A flagship building occupied by EDF and which showcases EDF Group know-how: EDF Tower in Paris La Défense, the most energy-efficient tower in Paris La Défense, built in 2001, designed and managed by EDF Group, heated and cooled by a groundwater source heat pump, with a high-performance building energy management system.

We have initially targeted heating and cooling system set up as a no or low cost measure that can yield significant savings. If heating temperature is lowered by 1oC for example it is possible to save up to 7% of energy consumption, if you don’t heat an office building over the weekend then 2 days out of 7 will be saved from the sites energy consumption.


We know the challenge is not only to achieve our final goals; it is also to secure this result over the long term: managing buildings requires constant focus as bad habits and drifts are quick to appear and may ruin previous efforts.

Another challenge is to more thoroughly engage the people in these buildings—EDF Group employees. Their behavior has an impact (up to 10%) on the energy efficiency of the building they work in, and they also must be informed of the actions taken by the company in line with its ambition to be a low-carbon electricity leader. A significant step has been taken this year to foster this engagement by partly basing the employee profit sharing scheme on the office building energy-efficiency objective. A major communication campaign is being launched in support of this.

There are five parameters that are considered for the profit sharing scheme at EDF, one of which is building energy consumption expressed in CO2e. Behavior change is supported by a toolkit that guides operations- this contains simple but important direction for building occupants: ensuring that windows are open appropriately (not when the heating or AC is turned on for example!), ensuring taps are not leaking. It explains that in winter it is normal to feel colder and to have a heating system operating at 21oC and not 26oC and inversely in summer- it is normal to feel hot and to have a building operational temperature of 26oC rather than 21oC- communicating this is the most difficult part in our energy program!

We have poster campaigns at appropriate locations- next to or even on the coffee machine for example. We have also staged some events and have entered energy saving contests - Cube 2020 is an example of this- we had 15 buildings in the contest in 2014 and plan to have 20 buildings in the 2015 edition. The only problem is that you need a motivated staff member in each participating building, with enough available time, and right now that is the challenge for us.

Stakeholders in Energy Efficiency Project Implementation

In many cases occupying rented buildings does not affect our energy efficiency measures as we are the building operator and you can still do quite a lot of improvement to ensure efficient operation of the building. We also still have to opportunity to change building user behavior; the only option we may not have is works- when we want to do improvement on the fabric of the building or other significant retrofit. We can discuss this with the building owner- in France we have the “Green Annex”, this is a legal document (since 2012) that is applied to any building over 2,000m2 of occupied office, it mandates discussions between landlords and tenants at least once per annum regarding energy, water and waste improvements. We are therefore entitled to discuss energy efficiency once per year. Of course any capital improvement measures are not for free and may lead to increases in rent or service charges, but it is a discussion at least.


A challenging Retrofit

Cannington Court started life in 1138 as Cannington Priory. After being returned to the Crown during the Reformation of the 16th century, it became a Catholic boys’ school and then an agricultural college. In 2012, EDF Energy signed a long lease on the building, and started a multi-million pound restoration project to create a new training facility: Campus.

The project achieved BREEAM Excellent standard with minimal impact on the environment and local community.

Cannington Court opened for business on the first June. This unique facility is a major training centre which will help connect all the different parts of EDF Energy and our key partners.

It boasts 50 en-suite bedrooms, a wide range of learning and meeting spaces, plus pioneering learning technology throughout. This is a place where our employees can discover new ways of learning that will appeal to all different styles and help grow in their personal development.

A challenging building

Working with a Grade I building held its particular challenges; the restoration had to be sympathetic to the original style, while integrating the best energy efficiency measures possible.

Additional challenges included dealing with archaeological remains and a number of protected species such as bees, bats and wisteria.

English Heritage and the architects both specified that no renewables could be installed on the original building. Carports were therefore built over the car park to create the necessary roof space for the solar thermal and PV panels. An additional benefit is that cars are not visible from neighbouring houses. Together with the heat pumps, which are very quiet, and the lack of emissions from the site, this means the finished project is very unobtrusive.

State of the art energy performance

The building is fitted with an integrated energy system which has been optimised for efficient operation revolving around a renewable energy centre using ground-source heat pumps, solar thermal, and solar PV, as well as heat recovery.

This provides Cannington Court with renewable energy for all its heating, cooling and hot water needs, as well as part of the electricity needed to run the building and electric vehicle charging points.

The solar PV array in itself will generate in excess of 26MWh per year of renewable electricity, saving over 12 tonnes of CO2 a year.

Integrated Energy Solution

Integrated Energy Solution
  1. Ground-source heat pumps: using heat recovery, drilling deeper and larger boreholes than usual, and using a more efficient coaxial design means only eight boreholes were needed, instead of the 40-50 a building this size would normally require. The pumps extract low-grade heat from the ground and concentrate it into a heat exchange, bringing the temperature up to over 40° C).
  2. Solar thermal panels: these sit on top of carports in the car park, absorbing ambient heat from the air, and directing it into the heat pumps. If we have enough heat to run the buildings already, we can redirect into the ground for storage and later extraction.

Together, the heat pumps and solar thermal provide all the cooling, space heating and hot water for the building. This is the first system to integrate heat pumps with solar thermal in this way. EDF R&D has added this intellectual property and patents to its extensive portfolio of low carbon innovations.

  1. Solar PV panels: these produce electricity, which is used to power the heat pumps and electric car charge points, as well as supplying the building. The 30kWp installed capacity provides part of the electricity used at Cannington Court. The remainder comes from EDF Energy’s nuclear-backed Blue tariff, meaning no fossil fuels are consumed on site
  2. Thermal storage: this is a very efficient way of storing heat (as opposed to batteries, which store electricity). Excess heat produced by solar thermal, and recovered from the building cooling system is returned to the ground for later re-extraction. This means the ground is kept at near constant temperature despite the heat taken out by the heat pumps. In simpler terms, recovering heat allows the ground to be ‘recharged’, and to reduce the number of boreholes needed to feed the heat pumps.
  3. Super-efficient all-electric heating and cooling system: for every 1kWh electricity consumed, the system produces up to 5.5kWh of heat (this means the system is 550% efficient or operates with a sCOP of 5.5). This is because more ‘free’ renewable energy is harvested from the site by the heat pumps and solar panels than is required to run the system, making it extremely efficient.

Cannington Court Energy Statistics - Dan Bentham, EDF Energy b2b Services

For comparison, a very efficient condensing gas boiler would use 1kWh of gas to produce 0.9kWh of heat (making it 90% efficient), and conventional electric heating such as storage or immersion is around 95% efficient.

Measurement & Verification

In 2013, we had already reduced energy consumption levels at our sites by 21% compared to the 2006 baseline. This is a great accomplishment thanks to our technical teams’ skills and dedication, and proof of the abilities of EDF Group.

We have a data collection system that connects all the metering information. Monthly data is collected and corrected based on climatic conditions and we then compare monthly consumption to the same month in the previous year and also compare full year records, monitoring progress every year compared with the previous year. If we see an increase in consumption at a site; we ensure that a survey is done at that location. If we see an increase in consumption compared to baseline or a particularly high benchmark then we would launch at audit at that site as there is likely work to be carried out.