Effinergie: the French reference for low energy buildings

The Effinergie association was created in May 2006 to promote low energy buildings in France. The initiative was taken by regional authorities*, and particularly the Alsace, Franche-Comté, Languedoc-Roussillon and Rhône-Alpes regions. The objectives are to combine and optimize implementation of regional approaches, and to federate construction professionals and local communities.

Regional deployment is continuing. Half of all Regions are now members of Effinergie, together with the City of Paris and a few departments; the remaining Regions are expected to join the movement shortly. Obviously, local communities are acting as the driving force. The association also includes professional organizations, financial bodies, associations based on energy, design and engineering offices, CSTB and COSTIC experts, etc. Jean-Christophe Visier, Manager of CSTB’s Energy, Health and the Environment Department, believes that it is desirable to open up the Effinergie Collective to all players who would like to get involved in this movement. He says "Contractors, manufacturers will also be able to get involved in this movement by working together in a committee of partners that is currently being set up, rather than as basic members".

Validate requirement levels
A work group, including representatives of players has defined energy targets to be reached to be able to be considered as a low energy building/,. It is organized by CSTB and based on design and engineering offices specialized in energy efficiency and dynamic simulations for buildings. Jean-Christophe Visier tells us that "the technical solutions are both ambitious and reasonable. To achieve this, it was important to create a label that takes account of specific French features in terms of regulations, climate zones, construction methods and other assistance like the extension of the COS (land occupancy factor)."

The BBC-Effinergie label is already applicable to new residential and non residential new buildings.. The Effinergie label for existing structures should be operational by the beginning of 2008. Agreements between the Ministry of Housing, the Effinergie association and certification bodies have been made to promote the Effinergie label, to put it into application, and to perform tests and validate it.

The label is awarded on acceptance of the building or detached house. The Effinergie association took advantage of the know-how of certification bodies such as CertiVéA for tertiary buildings, Cerqual for collective buildings, apartment buildings and grouped detached houses, Cequami for detached houses and Promotelec for homes. Jean-Christophe Visier believes that these partnerships will also help to get a better understanding of the market, to facilitate understanding by sector, and to mobilize players. "The BBC-Effinergie brand must eventually form a sort of a forum, facilitating communication. For example, banks are beginning to think about Effinergie loans."

How to make an Effinergie project successful ?
A first version of a guide for application of the BBC Effinergie label is currently being written. Its content does not claim to be exhaustive; it starts from example solutions adopted by local players and emphasizes points to which careful attention should be paid. Other communication tools are being created, such as a Web site dedicated to Effinergie and monographs written by regional teams emphasizing local specific features and problems. Another project in partnership with the ADEME consists of carrying out regional evaluations and setting up discussions between regional driving forces.

* AJENA, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, CEFIIM, "Isolate the earth against CO2" community, CSTB, Banque Populaire Group, Alsace Region, Franche Comté Region, Languedoc-Roussillon Region, Rhônealpenergie-Environnement (RAEE).

Labels: what requirements

New buildings

The BBC-Effinergie label was created jointly with the Ministry of Housing. BBC stands for "Bâtiment Basse Consommation" (Low Energy Building). Requirements to obtain the BBC - Effinergie label are as follows:

  • The global energy consumption in homes shall be less than 50 kWh/year/m² multiplied by a factor depending on the altitude and the climate zone, namely between 40 and 70 kWh/year/m².
  •  The global energy consumption in tertiary buildings shall be 50% less than the level of RT 2005.

Existing buildings

The Ministry of Housing has not yet issued a label. Effinergie will release a first label on the following bases:

  • In homes, the global energy consumption shall be less than 80 kWh/year/m².
  • In tertiary buildings, the global energy consumption shall be 40% less than the level of RT 2005.

Effinergie is also working in setting up a label for positive energy buildings.