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ENGIE presents the Smart Institutions platform at the 2019 Web Summit

Smart buildings
28/10/2019

In 2017, ENGIE and Axium Infrastructure acquired a fifty-year concession to reduce the carbon footprint of Ohio State University. In response to budget restrictions, the University opted for increased energy efficiency rather than increasing the cost of study. Reduced environmental impact is also a strongly attractive feature for students, who are very aware of climate issues. An attractive campus is a sustainable campus.

As a long-term partner, ENGIE is committed to helping the University attain its objectives, and has developed the « Smart Institutions » platform. Pierre-Henri Pelletreau and François Gressier spoke in tandem about the project, which will be presented on the ENGIE & Partners stand at the Web Summit, 4 - 7 November 2019 in Lisbon.


The concession signed with Ohio State University represents a fifty-year project in which ENGIE is committed to a 25% saving on electricity over the next ten years, i.e. 250 million dollars. To achieve this, we need to know what is happening in each building, where energy is being used, and how to optimize energy consumption, and thus heating and cooling.

Ohio State University involves 100,000 people including 60,000 students, a stadium seating 110,000, hospitals, halls of residence, and so on. A town, to all intents and purposes! Once we know how to manage this project, we can replicate it anywhere. Smart Institutions means we can develop the Ohio State University project as an « off-the-shelf » product that can be included in ENGIE's offers to universities or other bodies.


Is the project already set up?

Yes, it was delivered in January 2019. For version 2, which will be delivered next January, we have organized user workshops with the students and staff of several universities. We have redefined the functions that we want to see operating, and are currently developing a public website giving access to all the data, in accordance with the University's transparency policy.


What kinds of actions have you set up?

We have on-site teams encouraging students to reduce their use of energy. One example: last year, we launched a 3-week challenge among the Halls of Residence on electricity consumption. As a prize, we promised the 3 most economical Halls a party with free pizzas and drinks. 10 Halls took part, and at the end of the challenge the 3 winners had reduced their energy consumption by 10%! The objective, of course, is not just to reduce energy consumption during the challenge, but to change habits. On average, the student population is renewed every 4 years. We want to establish an energy-saving culture among students as of now, so that it will be transmitted to the incoming students as part of Ohio State University's way of working.

In the last 2 years, we have already exceeded our objectives for the reduction of energy consumption. Our projects for on-site electricity production have been approved, and will allow the University to gradually become autonomous. The University authorities are very satisfied with our actions over the last 2 years, and we will do everything we can to ensure it lasts at least another 48 years!


In November you will be on the ENGIE & Partners stand at the Web Summit. What are you hoping for?


First of all, we want to talk to the students targeted by the project.

One problem facing universities in the States is that of attracting students. To recruit the best students, a university has to show that it is committed to a process of sustainability and that efforts are being made to move towards a greener environment. There are a lot of universities in the States, all wanting to be chosen by the most gifted students. Grants and financing can help attract students, but differentiation also plays a role. Arguments such as carbon neutrality for 2050 or commitments to sustainable energy consumption are a real plus for a university. There has been a move from « We have the best football team » to « We have the best carbon footprint ». Of course, they also have the best football team!

At the Web Summit, we are going to test students' feelings on the image they have of ENGIE. For them, is ENGIE a partner that will help them choose the best university? In the future, will the ENGIE « university index » show whether, in terms of sustainable energy, Berkeley is better than the Ohio or vice versa?

And finally, we would also like to take this opportunity to attract talents.


What gets you up in the morning?

First of all the teams, the people I work with. And then the ENGIE company project to which Smart Institutions corresponds, like a concentration of the whole zero carbon strategy. Being part of that strategy gives meaning to what we do, and that is really motivating.

Source: Christine Leroy