Does sobriety become a business?

The target is ambitious: to reduce total energy consumption by 10% within a year. And the enormous financial commitment: the French, companies and individuals, spend almost 170 billion euros per year to meet their energy needs.

The connected home market

The sobriety market starts here, in a large hardware store, in the connected radiators section. A sector that has been offering a whole range of devices remotely controlled via applications for several years now, with the promise of saving valuable euros. The French spend an average of 1,600 euros a year on heating. This represents almost 10% of the family budget.

You’re not going home tonight? You can cancel the remote start of the heating. Forgot to turn off the towel dryer in the bathroom? You can do it with one click. Manufacturers have rushed into this “connected sobriety” market. Leroy Merlin employs 100 people near Lille to develop new products. Laurent Glaser is Prospective and Strategic Director for Connected Objects at Leroy Merlin: “Everyone can do something with an investment that is very affordable. Being able to control or stop a mobile radiator is possible with a plug that costs about ten euros. And if you don’t want to change your existing radiators, for about sixty euros you can you can add a module and a box that provides connectivity. In terms of connected radiators, the first prices are around 250, 300 euros.”

“There are no business on a dead planet”

So there are these small individual gestures, which together, according to a study by Carbone 4, allow to reduce France’s ecological footprint by a quarter. But companies and local authorities obviously have a decisive role to play. Not always knowing where to start. Gaël Virlouvet founded a Tehop design agency in Angers in 2015, which supports the local authorities in their efforts. He was surprised at the end of August by the success of an online seminar, a “webinar” dedicated to “Strengthening austerity in territorial policy” with in particular the feedback of six months of work within the agglomeration of Lorient.

According to Gael Virlouvet: “If we start saying to ourselves tomorrow that I want my activity to be compatible with the ecological transition, that means a whole transformation has to take place and of course the companies that have taken the lead and have already started to rethink their models, these are the ones who will be the winners tomorrow. Business must indeed be done in sobriety, in the ecological transition in general. There is no business on a dead planet, so it is to build the business of tomorrow’s living planet.”

These design firms are increasingly being used by VSEs and SMEs that need support and assistance in transforming their production models. But how do you get guarantees that the results are in line with the investment. Pierre Galio heads the Responsible consumption division of the French Environment and Energy Management Agency. It highlights a system called “Success Fees”: “The service provider is paid on the savings actually produced. So everyone wins, it’s very interesting, it’s very Anglo-Saxon and it’s starting to develop in France. But it works to improve a process, with immediate savings. On the other hand, for the transformation of an economic model it is over a long period of time, so the profitability is very complex to assess.”

The ecological transition, also a promising niche for banks

It’s an advertising insert spotted at a bus stop. A major bank shows this promise: “Reducing CO2 emissions is also good for your savings.” A slogan more than a reality analyzes Anne Catherine Husson Traoé, CEO of Novethic, a center of expertise in sustainable finance: “You have to be very, very careful. For example, if you promise that a financial product will reduce carbon emissions, you have to be wary of false promises because it is extremely indirect. We may be able to promise to invest in companies that they drastically reduce their emissions, but it is very difficult to allow that if we put 20,000 euros into it, we have an equivalent reduction of CO2, at this point there is clearly a risk that we are going a little too fast. we try to make savers, who are also very fond of responsible investing, believe that all current markets are green oriented and that everything will be fine.”

In a market where almost everything has yet to be built against a backdrop of ecological distress, it would be a shame, concludes Anne Catherine Husson Traoré, if sobriety becomes a vein!

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