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Smart Cities & Communities

In July 2012, the European Commission launched a European Innovation Partnership with the aim of fostering the development of the cities of the future or "Smart Cities". Sustainable urban mobility, energy-efficient buildings, and connected and integrated energy and transport networks; these are the pillars upon which the High Level Group (HLG), set up by the Commission and in which Bouygues is participating, has just adopted a Strategic Action Plan for the next few years.

"Cities are key to the EU's objectives of a 20% energy saving by 2020 and developing a low carbon economy, because 70% of the EU's energy is consumed in cities, " underlined Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Energy.

These figures form part of the triple objective proposed by the Commission in its "Energy 2020" strategy, which aims to cut the EU's primary energy consumption by 20% as well as greenhouse gas emissions, and to ensure a 20% share for renewable energies in energy consumption by 2020.

"Smart Cities" are an innovative concept to meet these objectives

In order to address an issue whose implications are so vast, the Commission has initiated dialogue on several levels.

Accordingly, the Smart Cities Stakeholder Platform has become the prime forum of exchange for all European civil society stakeholders, thus helping to give food for thought to the Commission via a great diversity of contributions.

Commissioners Oettinger (Energy), Kroes (Digital Agenda) and Kallas (Transport) have invited company CEOs, mayors, research centres and architects into the
High Level Group (HLG) to enhance discussions with European decision-makers and to give them tangible expression in a Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP). This was approved by the HLG on 5 October 2013 and unveiled to the public on 26 November 2013. During the HLG meeting, Emmanuel Forest, CEO of Bouygues Europe, underlined the strong support from the Bouygues group and the construction sector for this Smart Cities initiative, which embraces the current sweeping change taking place in terms of energy efficiency in buildings.

The SIP is based on three vertical priority areas for action:

  • Sustainable mobility,
  • Sustainable construction, and
  • Network and process integration in the fields of energy, ICTs and transport.

Each one of these priority areas is divided into several key implementation themes or "key enablers":

  • Policy: citizen focus; regulation; planning
  • Information management: knowledge; indicators; standards; databases
  • Economy: new business models, public and private markets; funding

The High Level Group's objective is to see this plan of action implemented quickly across Europe via major flagship projects (lighthouse projects), which aim to involve a large number of players from the different sectors of activity concerned.

In addition to these lighthouse projects, at the end of 2013 the High Level Group started to draft an operational framework intended to translate the proposed strategy into other tangible initiatives. The Bouygues group also intends to take part in this work as a representative of the construction sector within the HLG. 

Projects by the Bouygues group that are already paving the way for the city of the future 

Several years ago, the Bouygues group chose to make energy efficiency in buildings a sustainable business model. As a result, many of its projects that go beyond current regulatory requirements already form part of the daily lives of many people in several towns and cities in France.

The first stage was the development of eco-neighbourhoods, like "Ginko" in Bordeaux, opened in September 2013, and "Fort d'Issy" near Paris. The latter's "smart" credentials are evidenced by the fact that a proportion of residents has been equipped with tablets enabling them to control their energy consumption remotely. Other eco-neighbourhoods and smart districts are being built in Lyon (Hikari) and Zurich (Green City).

Bouygues Immobilier is also the creator of IssyGrid®, the first district energy optimisation pilot site in France. Its smart grid dimension is contributed by Embix, a joint venture between Bouygues and Alstom. As part of this project,
Bouygues Immobilier installed energy consumption tracking and analysis devices in test apartments, before rolling them out on a wider scale. Text messages showing energy consumption are sent to consumers, and appliances on standby can be switched off remotely from a smartphone. Other companies such as Schneider Electric, Microsoft, Total and Steria are also partners in this project.

European regulations are in fact less stringent in this area than in France, since they only demand consumption of "close to zero" in new buildings by 2020, whereas French rules require buildings to be positive-energy by the same date. As a result, Bouygues Immobilier began developing, as early as 2011, a business model based on positive-energy office buildings, the first example of which was Green Office® in Meudon. Consolidation of the Green Office®'s utilisation data after one year of occupation not only confirmed the theoretical projections but even outstripped them, thus underlining the success of this ambitious project. On the back of these results, Bouygues Immobilier has launched six other Green Office® projects across France.

Many applications for the city of the future are being developed by Bouygues Telecom, in the field of home automation, and by Bouygues Energies & Services in the domain of connected street lighting systems.

Via its partner Alstom, Bouygues is also active in electric public transport systems and is working with Renault and Nissan on the roll-out of networks for electric vehicles.

These examples show the Bouygues group's strong momentum and the commitment of its companies to rolling out technologies that will offer the public urban environments that are revolutionary, pleasant to live in and sustainable.

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