SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: DEFINITION, BACKGROUND, ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES
According to the report ‘Our common future’ by Ms. Harlem Brundtland, sustainable development is defined as development that satisfies the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to satisfy theirs. This report, published in 1987 by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, insists on the need to protect the diversity of genes, species, and all terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in nature. This is possible in particular via measures to protect the quality of the environment, and by the restoration, development, and maintenance of habitats that are essential to species. This implies the sustainable management of the use of the animal and plant populations being exploited. In other words, it is the rational management of human, natural, and economic resources that aims to satisfy the essential needs of humanity in the very long term.
Sustainable development implies the fulfilment of several conditions: preserving the overall balance, respect for the environment, and preventing the exhaustion of natural resources. Reduced production of waste and the rationalisation of production and energy consumption must also be implemented. Sustainable development is presented as a more or less clean break from other modes of development, which have led and are still leading to worrying social and ecological damage on both a worldwide and a local scale. In order to be sustainable, development must combine three main elements: fairness, protection of the environment, and economic efficiency. A sustainable development project must be based on a better-developed mode of consultation between the community and the members it comprises. The success of such a policy also depends on consumers accepting certain constraints and citizens observing certain requirements with regard to transparency and participation.
Faced with the over-exploitation of natural resources that accompanied economic and demographic growth, the think tank known as the Club of Rome, created in 1968, advocated zero growth. This group unites scientists, economists, national and international civil servants, and industrialists from 53 countries. It considers the complex problems that face all societies, whether industrialized or developing. In 1971, this private international association sounded an urgent alarm by publishing ‘The Limits to Growth’. Broadly speaking, it presents current economic development as being incompatible with the long-term protection of the planet.
The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972 gave birth to the first true notion of sustainable development, which was called ‘eco development’ in those days. This founding conference was held in an atmosphere of conflict between the ecology and the economy. Thanks to the support of personalities such as Maurice Strong, Professor René Dubos, Barbara Ward and Ignacy Sachs, the integration of social equity and ecological caution were incorporated into the economic development models for North and South. This would result in the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
As the years have passed, the elements of civil societies, with timid support from governments, have been waking up to the need to implement worldwide solidarity to deal with the risks of chaos disturbing nature’s balances. In the 1980s, when the general public became aware of acid rain, the hole in the ozone layer, and the greenhouse effect, etc., this gradually dawning awareness took another step forward. Little by little, the media began to make these topics more accessible to the general public.
In 1980, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published its world conservation strategy. This document is one of the original sources of the expression ‘sustainable development’, which is ‘développement durable’ in French and ‘desarollo sustenido’ (or sostenible) in Spanish. The concept was born of the following observations: the North/South divide (creating the potential for future conflicts), the search for human development and the ecological risks that give rise to the urgent need to safeguard the environment.
The term ‘sustainable development’ remained virtually unnoticed until its revival in the Gro Harlem Brundtland report 'Our common future', published in 1987. As the Prime Minister of Norway and the chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) at the time, she aimed to clarify this concept of sustainable development as ‘development that fulfils the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to fulfil theirs’. Since then, the concept of sustainable development has been accepted all over the world.
THE ISSUES AND AIMS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Following the Rio conference of 1992, most countries undertook to draw up a national strategy for sustainable development. The implementation of these strategies has turned out to be tricky, because it must address very serious issues within economic and political contexts that are marked by strong inertia. The issues appear at every level and affect practically every area of national policy. The various approaches reflect different points of view, and in particular: more or less constrained free market practices, a desire to place people at the heart of the economy, the greater or lesser determination of the various countries in the world, and the balance between short, medium, long, and very long-term interests. Moreover, there is no denying that the interdependence of modern-day economies means that environmental problems must be dealt with on a worldwide level, which does not simplify the implementation of the necessary strategies, particularly because of differences in levels of development.
The aim of sustainable development is to define viable schemes combining the economic, social, and environmental aspects of human activity. These three areas must therefore be taken into consideration by communities, companies, and individuals. The ultimate goal of sustainable development is to find a coherent and long-lasting balance between these three aspects. In addition to these three main factors, there is a transverse consideration, which is essential to the implementation of policies and actions with regard to sustainable development: good governance. Governance consists in the procedures of the decision-making process. In matters of sustainable development, the consensus of all the participants in society is required in order to define objectives and implement them: private and public sector companies, associations, NGOs, unions, and citizens.
Sustainable development did not just appear out of thin air; it is the product of a set of transformations in which the exploitation of natural resources, the choice of type of investment, and orientation of technological and institutional modifications are in harmony with present and future needs. As has already been indicated, the aims of sustainable development must be considered by individuals, by companies, and on a planet-wide level.
Moreover, the concept of sustainable development is based on a set of requirements. It must allow the basic needs of present and future generations to be fulfilled with regard to demographic constraints, such as: access to water, education, health, employment, and the fight against hunger or malnutrition. Another aim of this type of development is to improve quality of life, which involves easier access to medical care, social services, culture, and therefore also social well-being. In addition, respect for rights and freedoms and the promotion of new forms of renewable energy such as wind, solar, and geothermal power, are important aspects of sustainable development. Sustainable development must allow the planet’s resources and condition to be protected for future generations and natural assets to be shared. The concept of sustainable development also involves narrowing the gaps between rich and poor countries, insofar as these gaps, if maintained or accentuated, could be the cause of violent conflict, which by its very nature leads to regression rather than development.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: INITIATIVES, STANDARDS, CHALLENGES, AND STRATEGIES
INITIATIVES BY PRIVATE AND PUBLIC PLAYERS
There are many initiatives in favour of sustainable development. However, these initiatives are often scattered, sometimes not well known (in particular, there is little exchange between the public and private sectors), and not well promoted. These initiatives, which are rarely part of a long-term plan, are conducted by a wide variety of players: private and public-sector companies, associations, NGOs, territorial authorities, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, public bodies, etc.
All these initiatives sometimes constitute a local knowledge base that must be exploited, promoted, and shared. The various ministries must increasingly provide the driving force and co-ordinate, promote, and encourage all stakeholders involved in sustainable development initiatives. In view of the size of the task, sustainable development requires co-ordinated action by all of the economic actors and the public authorities.
The Legrand group is solidly committed to sustainable development, and continuously monitors the implementation of its commitment, maintaining a balance on the economic, environmental, and societal aspects. For example, Legrand's environmental approach aims to integrate the preservation of the planet into all areas of the company. This is an important area to be worked on, which is reflected in the Group’s contribution to improving the energy efficiency of buildings. According to its CEO, Legrand has a responsibility to ensure the profitable, long-lasting and responsible growth of its activities. To achieve this, Legrand has been involved for many years in a progress initiative with its customers and partners. This approach is one way of responding to the environmental, economic and social issues of today and tomorrow. Proof of this commitment: the 2011-2013 roadmap, which sets out Legrand’s sustainable development objectives for the coming years. Objectives that are already mobilising all of the Group’s teams.
The political authorities must work to reconcile a dynamic economy, a high level of education, protection of health and social and territorial cohesion with protection of the environment, in a world that respects diversity in all its aspects. The diversity of the objectives of sustainable development requires many policies and actions to be conducted and co-ordinated by the state and by civil society. The French national sustainable development strategy most notably incorporates the conclusions and commitments of the Grenelle Environmental Round Table. Incentives, which are mainly tax-related, for new modes of production and consumption, to encourage us to re-think our way of life and behaviour in order to achieve more sustainable growth and consumption, are the main levers of political power.
On a local level, the ‘sustainable city’ plan encourages a re-think of urban planning, housing, energy, transport, etc. The ecological solidarity pact, on the other hand, is an initiative that aims to build a new way of 'living together as a community' that would be economical in terms of natural resources. The aim of this pact is for sustainable development to become a universally shared value, which is socially accepted and easily accessible while reducing social inequalities.
Sustainable development is based on the institution of standards. The new European REACH regulations came into force on 1st June 2007. REACH stands for ‘Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals’. The main objectives of REACH are: better protection of human health and the environment against the risks that can be caused by chemicals. It also promotes better knowledge of the chemical substances used in industry. The aim of this standard is not to use toxic products for the sake of health and the environment, and to replace them with inoffensive products.
REACH regulations concern all industries and all materials that exist on the European market, whether produced in the European Union or imported, from one tonne per year. It obliges companies to register their substances with the European Chemicals Agency; otherwise, they will not be authorised for placement on the European market. Nevertheless, this registration is not applicable to substances already covered by other regulations (radioactive substances, medication, phytopharmaceutical products, biocidal products, food additives, etc.). Other categories, such as polymers, are subject to special handling.
THE ISO 26000 STANDARD
Published on 1st November 2010, this is an international standard which is by definition for voluntary application and which gives the main guidelines concerning social responsibility with regard to sustainable development. This is the first big step towards CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), and it proposes a method for its adaptation and implementation in an organization. It provides an international behavioural framework for any type of organization (companies, communities, NGOs, unions, etc.) irrespective of size or field of activity.
The ISO 26000 standard observes the major international founding texts, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the articles of the International Labour Organisation, etc. It clarifies, explains, gives additional information, and prevents misunderstandings or arbitrary situations. It was drawn up by consensus, which means that it cannot favour the interests of a limited group of players; on the contrary, it favours the greatest possible number of players.
The ISO 26000 standard is thus a common international tool for any player wishing to build ‘responsible’ legitimacy. It invites organisations to express their approach according to seven central questions in order to define the scope of their responsibility to society: the governance of the organisation, human rights, working relationships and conditions, the environment, best business practice, questions concerning consumers and the societal commitment. These central questions aim to identify the relevant areas of action the organisation will be able to focus on to set its priorities and implement its own actions.
THE MANAGEMENT OF WEEE AND ROHS
The management of WEEE and RoHS corresponds to two European directives. D3E (2002/96/EC) deals with the framework for the management of waste electrical and electronic equipment in Europe. The RoHS directive (2002/95/EC) (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) concerns the composition of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). According to Article R.543-172 of the French Environmental Code, EEE represents equipment operating on electrical current or electromagnetic fields, as well as equipment that produces, transfers, or measures such currents and fields. It thus concerns equipment designed for use at a voltage not exceeding 1000 volts AC and 1500 volts DC.
One of the aims of these directives is to inform users of the rules to apply and the means available to manage waste electrical and electronic equipment in strict observance of sustainable development. These directives also identify the needs and problems of users and service providers, and solutions that exist or need to be created. There are approved bodies, known as environmental organisations, such as ECO-SYSTEMES, ECOLOGIC, ERP, and RECYLUM. These organisations have been created by and for producers, in partnership with all participants in the sector. The aims are to handle the economic management of the WEEE sector, to organise the collection and processing of WEEE, and to implement awareness, information, and communication actions.
There is a difference between WEEE regulations and RoHS, which has more restricted applicability. Unlike the WEEE directive, the RoHS directive excludes medical devices (except implants or infected products), monitoring and control instruments (smoke detectors, etc.), batteries and accumulators.
There are two categories of WEEE: household and professional. As the name implies, household WEEE comes from home, and can include similar equipment used for professional purposes because of its nature and the channels through which it is distributed. Professional WEEE is equipment typically used in company activities, such as vending machines, medical equipment, or measuring instruments. Certain equipment is similar to household equipment, but remains suited to professional requirements, e.g., supermarket chiller cabinets, portable air conditioning units, and professional computer screens.
WEEE includes a wide variety of waste, and their typical composition is too complex to be fully defined. The waste electrical and electronic equipment collection and processing system has been operational for household WEEE since 15 November 2006. It has been operational for professional WEEE since 13th August 2005. It is based on the principle of the extended responsibility of manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment. This waste essentially consists of ferrous and non-ferrous metals (10 to 85%), inert materials excluding cathode ray tubes (0 to 20%), plastics whether or not containing halogenated flame-retardant materials (1 to 70%), and specific components that are potentially hazardous to health and the environment (CFCs and other greenhouse gases). Nonetheless, many fractions of WEEE can be recycled, thereby preserving natural resources and limiting the amount of waste placed in landfill sites or incinerated.
In the field of sustainable development, there are many major challenges to be addressed. They require us to re-think our economy and our growth in favour of a society that is more economical in its use of raw materials and energy. Some of these challenges include: climate change, energy consumption, waste production, threats to public health, poverty, social exclusion, management of natural resources, loss of biodiversity, and land use. In this context, sustainable development approaches are now essential obligations.
Sustainable development must mainly be able to respond to the various problems raised by demographic growth, the planet’s limited capacity, and social inequality. In 2100, the world’s population will be close to 10 billion, but the Earth does not have unlimited resources, especially since individual consumption has been increasing considerably because the less developed countries wish to catch up with the others. Greenhouse gas emissions are one of the main consequences of human activity that accelerate global warming. This warming carries risks of shortages and the disruption of certain natural cycles such as fresh water, impoverishment of agricultural soil, deforestation, and reduced biodiversity. This means that the future development of all species living on earth, ultimately including human beings, is under threat.
In order to be sustainable, development must also be harmonious. At least a certain amount of social cohesion must exist on a planetary scale in order to create the conditions for the peace we need. Major differences between the situations of economic players are sources of tension and conflict. The North/South economic divide and the unequal distribution of the consumption of the planet’s natural resources between the world’s populations are notable potential causes of tension. Will the 10 billion men and women inhabiting our planet in 2100 be able to live as well as the 750 million people in industrialized nations do today?
On a political level, the European Union has determined a strategy to facilitate more sustainable development. Sustainable development relies on economic, social and environmental foundations in the framework of co-ordinated worldwide governance. Feedback concerning the various economic, social and environmental policies already implemented must be obtained. The states and the European Union must assume their responsibilities as a driving force in the field of sustainable development.
This strategy follows on from the European Sustainable Cities & Towns Conference (Lisbon 1996), and must be a facilitator of public opinion and policies in order to change consumption and investment behaviours. This strategy hinges on measures that take the main challenges into account, transverse measures, appropriate funding, the involvement of all the parties concerned, and the efficient implementation and monitoring of political decisions. The main directives of the strategy are: the promotion and protection of basic rights, solidarity within and between generations, the guarantee of an open and democratic society, the participation of citizens, companies and the social partners, the coherence and integration of policies, use of the best available knowledge, the precautionary principle, and the ‘polluter pays’ principle.
As a general rule, any policy involving a strategy in favour of sustainable development must include the following guidelines, which have international scope and permanent validity:
• Se responsabiliser face à l'avenir et aux générations futures : c’est à dire promouvoir le principe de précaution, le principe du pollueur payeur et le principe général de responsabilité.
• Becoming more responsible with regard to the future and future generations: promoting the precautionary principle, the ‘polluter pays’ principle, and the general principle of responsibility. • Taking into account the three aspects already mentioned, in a balanced manner, which assumes that the ‘environmental responsibility’, ‘economic capacity’, and ‘social solidarity’ areas must be handled equally. • Incorporating sustainable development in all areas of politics. All activities and all processes in the city must be concerned. • Increasing the co-ordination between political areas and improving consistency. Thus, any wide-ranging political decision must be preceded by an early evaluation of its social, economic and ecological consequences. This approach requires transparent decision procedures and the involvement of all participants concerned, as well as the prior determination of conflicts of interest. • Achieving the sustainable development objectives through partnership. All institutional levels must work together constructively and fully assume their role as an interface with civil society and the private sector.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT – THE PROBLEM OF ENERGY AND THE IMPACT OF ITS CONSUMPTION
THE ENERGY PROBLEM
General comments on the energy problem
Energy is tightly linked to the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, environmental, and social. Energy services are obviously essential to economic and social development. To contribute to this ongoing development, the main issue in the energy sector will be to control the consumption of natural energy resources. In fact, we must set up a system for better compatibility of current living standards with the conservation of energy resources for future generations.
There is no denying that energy is the driving force—the very essence—of modern civilization. Energy services are essential for human well-being, and contribute to strengthening social stability thanks to the constant increase in the standard of living. Energy is decisive for the development and prosperity of economic players. Although the energy intensity needs of modern economies are gradually falling, enormous quantities of energy will be required to improve living conditions in the developing countries. The energy sector itself occupies an important place in the world economy in terms of employment, income, and trade.
Every country in the world seems to view the standard of living in the USA at the start of the 21st century as the ideal objective. The means of achieving this objective comes up against a simple equation. This equation provides an evocative illustration: the USA (accounting for 5% of the world's population) consumes 25% of the world's oil production! Most specialists agree that, at current rates of consumption, oil reserves will run out within 50 years. It is therefore obvious that the development model of the United States of America, on which the European model is based, cannot be applied on a worldwide scale. Energy-wasting practices must therefore be replaced by a sustainable development model.
ENERGY AND POVERTY
Energy and the preservation of resources are currently at the heart of the international debate on sustainable development. Energy occupies a major role in the alleviation of poverty and the construction of sustainable development. This is a basic aspect of the physical and natural world and humanity’s socio-economic systems. Energy therefore constitutes one of the critical areas for interaction between technology, economics, and politics. It is definitely at the heart of social and environmental matters, as is its fundamental role in any system for planning or developing a society. As a primary resource, it is crucial for the implementation of all initiatives to combat poverty, and constitutes the engine of socio-economic development.
Access to energy facilitates the enhancement and development of agriculture and other productive economic areas. Energy constitutes a key factor to improve living conditions and reduce poverty. Legrand’s task in this area is to allow the greatest possible number of people all over the world to have access to electricity. This responsibility sees it make two kinds of commitment: firstly, solidarity-based involvement in supporting development projects and providing emergency aid, particularly through its partnership with Electriciens Sans Frontières (Electricians Without Borders) since 2007; secondly, the development of a range of products and solutions tailored to emerging countries. In certain parts of the world, Legrand provides its trade expertise in order to promote development and participate in improving the living conditions of the population. Thanks to appropriate products that are easy to install and which fulfil specific local requirements, the Group works every day at providing access to electrical equipment. We have a true public-spirited commitment in this area. If producers have access to energy, local agricultural products can be processed and sold at a reasonable price in cities, allowing rural households to reap greater benefits from their work. Moreover, if these households are connected to the public electricity system, they can often benefit from subsidized prices. The possibility of funding the supply of energy to the remote countryside and the sustainability of this funding contribute to promoting economic productivity in favour of the poorest segments of the population.
The case of agriculture illustrates how electrical energy can significantly improve living conditions in the rural areas of poor countries. Note also that eliminating poverty is one of the central objectives of modern development policy. Access to energy services is an essential tool to improve the capabilities of poor and underprivileged populations, thus promoting equality. Some schools of thought even argue that access to sustainable energy should be set out as a basic human right. If production does not succeed in fulfilling our growing energy needs, however, the access of poor or rural populations to electricity and other sources could become even more difficult.
CONTROLLING ENERGY DEMAND
Electrical energy is the number one final energy consumed in France. We are particularly concerned by sustainable development. The approach to controlling energy demand starts with better use of the electricity consumed. The goal is not to downgrade user convenience, but to maintain the current level while saving energy. This goal can be achieved through the use of devices that consume little electricity and through the possible intelligent management of the equipment already in place. Legrand plays a leading role in this area. More and more users are changing their behaviour in the right direction. The energy saved in this way, and therefore not consumed, will not emit any local pollutants or greenhouse gases!
The control of electricity demand involves a set of technologies and methods that aim to optimise the energy expenditure of consumers. This must be achieved while limiting public infrastructure costs and the impact on the environment. This control involves a certain number of actions and choices. Equipment must have the best possible performance (low-energy lamps, insulation of buildings with electrical heating systems, economical household and professional appliances, etc.). It is also preferable to choose devices that can limit the subscribed power demand on the network (power controllers, programmers, etc.). Finally, we must work towards replacing mains electricity used for thermal applications (heating, hot water) with electricity obtained from renewable energy sources.
RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES
The proportion renewable energy in our energy consumption must inevitably be greatly increased. The use of such energy sources is possible locally, and the methods are better and better mastered. Every citizen can therefore make a contribution to sustainable development by choosing to use renewable energy sources, whether partially or exclusively.
The question of the development of renewable energy sources is inseparable from the question of sustainable development. Sustainable energy is abundantly provided by the sun, the wind, the earth’s heat, waterfalls, tides, and the growth of plants, and it creates little or no waste or polluting emissions. By using these sustainable sources, we preserve the planet’s fossil resources, such as natural gas and petroleum, the reserves of which are naturally limited and will inevitably be exhausted.
Thanks to scientific and technical progress, renewable energy sources can already fulfil a large proportion of the present-day population’s energy needs, outside the transport sector. Future progress should further reduce our dependence on non-renewable energy sources. Sustainable development will ensure the perpetuity of the Earth’s resources and save fossil fuels for the coming generations. Better management of renewable energy sources is a response to the problem of maintaining the overall balance and the value of our natural heritage. By producing more of our electricity using renewable energy sources, we will reduce the proportion of electricity produced by traditional or nuclear electric power plants. We can therefore directly reduce the production of radioactive waste, which future generations will be obliged to deal with in any case. The very serious accident at Fukushima, Japan on 11th March 2011has just shown us that nuclear power cannot provide the solution to all of our electricity supply problems.
OTHER ENERGY SOURCES
Energy production using fossil fuels is a polluting process from start to finish. The use of these non-renewable energy sources is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, we will need to find a way to cope with the shortage of fossil resources. For the time being, biofuels are not an acceptable option. They consume a great deal of water, pesticides, and farmable land. They are also a source of greenhouse gases because of the deforestation they cause, the fact that their farming is highly mechanized, and the need to transport them. Biofuels give an overall negative result, and cannot therefore be included in a sustainable development policy.
Nuclear power is produced and controlled in nuclear power plants. It generates much debate, criticism, concern, and danger. It has the advantage, however, of emitting very little greenhouse gas compared to fossil fuels. There is, however, a risk of accidents occurring in nuclear power plants (human error, malicious acts, earthquake, tidal wave, attack, technical fault, etc.).
IMPACT OF ENERGY CONSUMPTION
IMPACT ON CLIMATE CHANGE
As previously indicated, energy in general and electricity in particular are essential factors in the economic development of human societies.
On the other hand, although energy sources are a decisive factor in economic and social development, in the current state of knowledge, their exploitation is a source of pollution which undeniably causes a problem. The steady rise in energy consumption is one of the causes of climate change. If humanity does not change its ways, specialists predict that temperatures could rise by 1.4 to 5.8°C between 1990 and 2100.
In addition to the increase in average temperature, human activities are likely to have immediately visible consequences on other aspects of the climate. Rising sea levels, major increases in precipitation in certain regions, reduced snow cover at the poles, and the frequency and intensity of extreme weather phenomena would all be signs of impending climate change. In this context, sustainable development is a must.
Like any human activity, the production and consumption of energy can affect the entire biosphere. It is clear that certain systems, sectors, and regions will be harder hit than others by these large-scale phenomena. Certain terrestrial ecosystems (mountain regions, boreal forests, etc.), marine ecosystems (coral reefs, etc.), and coastal ecosystems (mangroves, etc.) are the most endangered. The following areas are also concerned: certain dry regions at middle latitudes because of changes in rainfall, low-lying coastal regions and large deltas in Asia and Africa, small islands, and populations with little ability to adapt, whose sanitary conditions could deteriorate, etc.
It is therefore important to anticipate the exhaustion of reserves in order to prevent or limit the impact of this. In terms of sustainable development, energy efficiency is the first lever to reduce the consumption of natural resources. Technological progress must contribute to improving energy performance. The Legrand Group works towards this goal every day.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: THE GRENELLE ENVIRONMENTAL ROUND TABLE
Faced with the need to implement sustainable and efficient development, governments, driven by players in civil society, have begun to implement initiatives in proportion to the issues that our country, too, is facing. The Grenelle Environmental Round Table of 2007 made it possible to embark on a consultation process with all parties concerned by environmental problems. States, NGOs, local authorities, unions, and companies were all involved in this discussion.
A consultation was carried out, and 268 commitments were made by the President of the [French] Republic. 34 operational committees were subsequently set up to propose concrete actions to implement these commitments. The outcome of the round table was set out in two laws: the Grenelle 1 law and the Grenelle 2 law. Today, the Grenelle Environmental Round Table has given rise to concrete achievements all over France and in every business sector.
THE GRENELLE 1 LAW
Following the consultation exercise begun in July 2007, and in view of the urgent need to take action concerning the deteriorating condition of our planet, the state created legislation. The planning law concerning the implementation of the Grenelle Environmental Round Table, known as the ‘Grenelle 1’ law, was passed on 3rd August 2009. Through its 57 articles, this global law proposes measures affecting the energy and building sectors, transport, biodiversity and natural environments, governance, and risks to the environment and health.
The Grenelle 1 law is intended to favour and accelerate the taking into account of new environmental challenges by all participants. The aim is to guarantee sustainable operation and development for society and the economy. Another of its aims is the long-term preservation of the standard of living and purchasing power of the French population. This law faithfully reflects the commitments made at the Grenelle Round Table. It specifies and supplements some of the approaches based on proposals put forward by the committees set up following the Grenelle, and gives budget estimates.
The building and energy sectors are in the front line of those concerned by the Grenelle law. This law has most notably confirmed all the approaches concerning the control of energy, the development of renewable energy sources, and the fight against climate change. The decision was made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a factor of 4 before 2050. A target of 23% renewable energy sources was set. The 50 kWhEP/m2/year standard, expressed in primary energy, was confirmed.
THE GRENELLE 2 LAW
The law, which constitutes a ‘national commitment to the environment’, was passed on 12th July 2010. This law, called Grenelle 2, corresponds to the application of some of the commitments from the Grenelle Environmental Round Table, which were made in order to promote sustainable development. The 248 articles that make up this important law were enriched by Parliament, and give a list of measures for six main areas of work:
• Building and urban planning,
• Risks, health, waste,
Note that, in addition to the Grenelle 1 and Grenelle 2 laws, there is other legislation that incorporates the commitments of the Grenelle Environmental Round Table. These include laws on environmental responsibility, on GMOs, and the law concerning the organization and regulation of rail transport.
The field of energy receives prominent attention in the second Grenelle law. In particular, this concerns improving the energy efficiency of buildings and harmonising urban planning tools. The aim is to design and create buildings that are more economical in terms of energy consumption. Another aim is to achieve urban planning that is better linked with policy on habitat, commercial development, and transport, while improving the quality of life of inhabitants. To achieve the goals that have been set, a technological breakthrough must be made in the construction of new buildings, and the thermal renovation of old buildings must be accelerated. A town planning approach that is economical in terms of real estate and energy resources must also be favoured.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT – ELECTRICITY SAVINGS, PRACTICES AND MANAGEMENT
The fight against climate change and reduction in consumption of non-renewable energy raw materials are viable. 'Energy savings' refers to all economically profitable actions undertaken to reduce energy consumption (e.g. optimizing the management of electricity, adapting consumption according to tariff band, or reducing installed power). The aim is also to consume energy in an optimum way (for example, by recovering the heat lost in combustion gases, recycling waste to produce energy, etc.).
They say that ‘the best energy is energy not consumed’. One of the means to achieve this is through energy efficiency. This involves producing the same goods or services with the least energy possible. This optimisation is at the heart of sustainable development.
The Grenelle Environmental Round Table firmly set energy efficiency policy back in motion, giving a central role to the control of energy and sustainable modes of production and consumption. As we have indicated, this concerns every sector: construction, transport, research, industry, etc. Energy savings should also allow consumers to save money on their electricity bills. They limit greenhouse gas emissions caused by the production of electricity and reduce the construction of costly additional infrastructures that would be dedicated to supplying electricity and would disfigure the countryside.
Nowadays, energy efficiency is an undeniable and essential component of each Legrand project. It has even become a major factor in its success. Legrand is a global specialist in electrical and digital building infrastructures and proposes ever more solutions to better manage electrical energy, reduce consumption, and continue to contribute to providing high-quality energy. Above and beyond the offer itself, the involvement of all participants in their daily practices of prescription and installation is what will allow these environment-friendly solutions to achieve their full potential. The same applies to the beneficial reduction in the environmental footprint of buildings.
At the workplace, energy savings are achieved by applying good behavioural practice. Practices that favour sustainable development include:
• switching off the light when leaving a room,
• adjusting the air temperature and recycling according to occupancy,
• switching off a computer before an absence of a few hours or more,
• disconnecting the charger when a mobile phone has finished charging,
• switching off devices that remain on stand-by after use (printers, scanners, etc.).
Logo Développement durable Legrand
Thanks to Legrand’s innovative solutions, these good practices can be automated at the workplace. Even though these small actions would seem to be mere common sense, in practice they are often forgotten by employees who are not being careful or who are in a rush because they are snowed under by a huge number of tasks. Thus, in addition to the collective realisation that there is a real need to control energy consumption, technology can help to ensure the systematic application of these practices. To help users adopt good practices automatically, Legrand offers a whole range of solutions that contribute to sustainable development. Green outlets, presence detectors, lighting management systems, etc., are some of these. These solutions contribute to a significant reduction in energy consumption and increase energy efficiency, whether in the context of renovation or construction, or the use of a building.
For lighting, LED lamps are the best item in terms of low consumption and sustainable development. Lamps consisting of five or seven LEDs can be used, and these are equivalent to the small halogen spot lamps used for directional lighting (bookcase, showcase, etc.). These lamps of the future, which are very economical, ecological, and health-friendly, are becoming increasingly affordable. They can now be obtained more easily, because they are beginning to be available in supermarkets. They can be used for any type of lighting, whether for additional or decorative lighting, for home or outdoor use.
Low-energy lamps can thus help to achieve substantial energy savings. They can supply the same amount of light while consuming five times less electricity than classic incandescent lamps. These lamps, however, produce weak electromagnetic fields that could be damaging to health and the environment. Low-energy lamps contain mercury (highly toxic if released, for example from a defective or broken lamp). These lamps must not be accessible to children.
Allumage par détection
Automation or the control system also leads to highly significant savings of electrical energy by placing equipment in stand-by mode or switching it off completely, according to the programming. Presence detectors, complete home automation systems, automatic switches, stand-alone detectors, etc., are all effective lighting or temperature management solutions. These accessories are used to control and program lighting, heating, and other types of consumption in order to optimise their use and reduce costs. They can be controlled via BUS/SCS, CPL, ZigBee, or components of the Mosaic Program.
General remarks concerning household appliances
Household appliances (microwave ovens, washing machines, tumble driers, etc.) and convenient and useful, but they consume a large amount of energy. Their consumption can be as much as 40% of a family’s electrical consumption (excluding heating, hot water, and cooking), and 60% for households with a large amount of equipment. Ecology and sustainable development are now gradually becoming a way of life, and environmental practices are becoming increasingly integrated into everyday life. In view of the increasing awareness of western consumers, the major brands are offering economical, ecological machines that are kinder to the environment.
When buying a household appliance, it is important to consider its energy label. This label provides essential information allowing machines to be compared and selected according to which are the most efficient and the most economical. For equal performance, certain machines can consume much less energy than others.
The energy label is the simplest, quickest way to guide the consumer in his choice of household appliance. Household appliances consume less and less energy, thanks to the tireless efforts of their manufacturers. Despite this, they still account for a significant proportion of household electricity bills.
Devices in Class A, A+, or A++ are the most highly recommended, according to the type of use. There are many advantages to choosing such devices. A Class A machine generally has a longer working life. It consumes up to three times less electricity than a Class C device. The lower consumption of household appliances lessens the cost of operating these machines, and makes a public-spirited contribution to preserving the environment.
The freezer is one of the major consumers of electricity in a household. Its average consumption can be as much as 20% of a household electricity bill. It is therefore particularly profitable to apply all necessary measures to make energy savings in its use.
It is essential to avoid the build-up of frost in a freezer or freezer compartment. To reduce frost formation, it is important to develop the habit of leaving the door open for the shortest possible time. Frost is caused by the contact between water vapour in the air and the cold walls of the device. Frost build-up leads to unnecessarily high energy consumption because of the energy used to maintain the mass of ice thus formed.
Frost can also be caused by poor sealing of the device caused by gaskets in poor condition or by an incorrect temperature setting. One solution is an anti-frost mat, which insulates and prevents the accumulation of ice. Regular defrosting, approximately twice a year or whenever necessary, will limit the electricity consumption. There are other good practices that can help consumers contribute to sustainable development:
• Choose the size of your device in accordance with your actual needs. If the device is too large, consumption is unnecessarily high.
• Place your freezer in a cool location, near an opening. Above all, avoid placing it beside heat sources such as an oven or cooker. A nearby source of heat would lead to significant overconsumption of energy.
• Do not adjust your freezer to the coldest setting. A temperature from -15°C to -20°C is sufficient to freeze food and avoid wasting energy.
• Fill your freezer as much as possible. It will consume less energy if it contains no empty space.
• Whenever you open the freezer door, close it again as soon as possible. Food can be labelled so that the user can locate it easily in the freezer; this reduces the time during which the freezer door is kept open.
• Leave a space of at least 5 cm behind the freezer (between the grille and the wall) for air circulation. Clean the grille behind your refrigerator–freezer regularly.
• Before freezing food, leave it to cool at room temperature before placing it in the freezer. This will not only save energy, but also reduce the frost formation and bacterial growth.
Washing machine and tumble drier
For ecological and sustainable laundry, avoid using pre-wash cycles. Moreover, it is preferable to run the machine at 30°C or 40°C. This gives the same result as at 60°C, but with far lower energy consumption. ‘Economy’ mode or a short cycle is recommended. You should also optimise the load placed in the machine. These small precautions can save up to 25% on electricity and 30% on water for a small load.
The tumble drier is not a machine that favours sustainable development. Of all household appliances, it is the biggest consumer of energy. Its average consumption can reach 500 kWh, which represents almost 15% of a family’s annual electricity consumption (excluding heating). Users who cannot do without a tumble drier are advised to wring out the clothing as much as possible by hand before placing it in the drier, to start the machine only when it is full, and to clean the filter regularly. Remember that clothing has a longer life if not dried in a machine. Energy can be saved by hanging the washing to dry on an indoor rack or outdoor line.
Ecology is a biological science born in the 1800s, but ‘ecology’ also refers to a very recent concern about the future and living conditions on the planet. This is not just a fad; ecology is a matter of our planet, and ultimately affects our lives, life in general, and even the survival of future generations.
The Earth is a complex system that exists only thanks to its equilibrium. But Planet Earth has a fragile equilibrium. As we exploit the planet’s resources, create pollution through our activities and our way of life, and accelerate the extinction of certain species, we humans are changing and threatening the Earth’s fragile equilibrium. Sustainable development is a credible alternative, which we must implement.
Eco-design consists of integrating the environment right from the product design phase, for both goods and services. This integration depends on a global, multi-criteria approach to the environment, and is based on taking all the stages of the product life cycle into account. This can be developed only thanks to the involvement of companies, which are playing for many important stakes in terms of economic gain, improved image, and market differentiation.
For example, within the Legrand Group, the next generation of eco-designed emergency luminaires has enabled the following improvements: reduction - a 48% reduction in total product mass, giving rise in particular to a 70% reduction of the impact on the exhaustion of natural resources, as well as allowing a 74% in total energy consumption, particularly thanks to the use of new light sources (LED); This excellence is also recognised by the French ‘NF Environnement’ environmental standard. The aims of the Legrand group for 2011/2013 are to increase the proportion in the Group offers of eco-designed products demonstrating reduced environmental impact in a multi-criteria life cycle analysis. This is a good thing to do, but a commitment to transparency will make it even better. Legrand is committed to providing transparent and accurate information on the performance and environmental impact of its products. Product Environmental Profiles (PEPs) specify the environmental characteristics of each product over its entire life cycle. As a founder member of the PEP Ecopassport association, the Group is also committed to promoting the use of PEPs throughout the electrical industry.
Building eco-design must address the following points:
• Taking environmental aspects into account in the design,
• Preservation of resources (energy, water, materials, land),
• Protection of ecosystems on a planetary level (climate, ozone), regional level (forests, rivers, etc.), and local level (waste, air quality, etc.).
• Links between environment and health.
Green building obviously fits in with the principles of sustainable development and eco-design.
The carbon balance is part of an overall approach to controlling greenhouse gas emissions. The carbon balance was developed by ADEME (the French agency for the environment and energy control), a government establishment under the aegis of the ministries of research, ecology and energy. It is both a methodological approach and a set of tools used to keep track of the quantities of greenhouse gas emissions due to an activity by a public or private company.
It is an evaluation that facilitates the identification of the items responsible for the most emissions, and therefore to carry out the most relevant actions to reduce the company’s impact on climate change. It complies with the ISO 14064 standard and the ISO 14000 reference, which apply just as much to the ‘quantification of the greenhouse gas emissions of an organization or project’. Moreover, if carried out during the design phase, the carbon balance provides a unique reference so that greenhouse gas emissions can be ranked in order to choose materials with less impact on the environment. It is a tool to measure the implementation of sustainable development. Green building naturally attributes a great deal of importance to the carbon balance. Legrand contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gases through an in-house project known as "Legrand Climact", which was launched in 2007 and is based around three fields of action: controlling energy on industrial sites, product eco-design and transportation. As a result of this initiative, significant reductions are made each year. Accordingly, between 2008 and 2009, Legrand reduced its CO2 emissions from the transport of finished products by 5%. In 2011, Legrand also began to formalise its carbon footprint according to the international Greenhouse Gases (GHG) protocol. This approach revealed that the most significant greenhouse gas emissions were related to raw materials, logistics, and the energy consumption of the Group’s manufacturing sites.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT – THE RESPONSIBILITIES
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF COMPANIES
Le contrat social
Sustainable development covers three dimensions: economic, social, and environmental. Social responsibility is the contribution made by organisations to sustainable development. It is reflected in the company’s will to take responsibility for the impact of its decisions and activities on society and on the environment, and to answer for this impact. On 1st November 2010, the first international standard concerning social responsibility, ISO 26000, was published. Its aim is to give guidelines to organisations, taking into account the existing references for general operation, management systems, and reporting. Social responsibility concerns the principles of sustainable development applied to the sphere of an organization and its stakeholders.
The organisation may be a large company, and SME, an administration, an association, or an NGO. Its stakeholders are all individuals or groups with an interest in its decisions or activities: personnel, unions, occupational physicians, shareholders, customers, subcontractors, suppliers, technological or financial partners, as well as representatives of the State, local authorities, neighbours, associations, media, etc. The scope is vast, and it must be delineated with a careful assessment of priorities. Embarking on a social responsibility initiative means first identifying the stakeholders, initiating a dialogue with them to find out about their expectations, and evaluating the impact of the organisation on these expectations.
The NF ISO 26000 standard facilitates this procedure. It offers a common, universal, international framework and guidelines to structure the approach and to integrate it into the management system. It allows the organisation and its stakeholders to reveal their expectations concerning the main themes of sustainable development. This standard is like a methodological guide that contains seven central questions on which it invites the user to reflect and act. For companies, the CSR approach consists of taking the social and environmental impact of their activity into consideration in order to adopt the best possible practices, thereby contributing to improving society and protecting the environment. The CSR approach combines economic logic with social responsibility and environmental responsibility.
A company can evaluate its level of social responsibility thanks to ISO 26000. The interest lies on several levels: company, investors or shareholders, and employees. On a company level, social responsibility is a recognized factor in growth and durability for two reasons. The first reason is the increasingly strong pressure from contractors and consumers in this area: ‘responsible buyers’ are selecting ‘responsible suppliers’. The second reason is that, with social responsibility, the company has a strategic and effective tool to limit the exposure to risk (environmental, social, disputes with stakeholders, etc.). Where investors and shareholders are concerned, the growth in the responsible investment market is real, and the social and environmental performance of the companies is taken into account. Employees appreciate working in a responsible company; it is definitely a motivating factor.
THE ETHICS CHARTER
For Legrand, compliance with the Group's ethical commitments, formally set out in the charter of fundamental principles, is a priority. In 2009, the Group's ethics representatives - over sixty in number - attended a training session webcast by the Company Secretariat, the Human Resources Department and the Group Internal Communication Department. The aims of this session were as follows: - Providing information on the 2009 update of the Charter of Fundamental Principles and the creation of a practical guide. In particular, the updating of the charter made it possible to develop the Legrand Group's position on Human Rights and the fight against discrimination, complying with the key international texts, as well as on issues relating to the protection of property and on confidentiality. It also provided an opportunity to add to the themes of the prevention policy and environmental policy. A supplement on the subject of competition was published this year. - To formalize the strengthening of the group alert system, with the creation of a generic email address used to directly receive information on any difficulties and questions Legrand Group employees might have. This system complements the local role of the ethics representatives. - To facilitate the sharing of experience within the Legrand Group. In addition to the Group training session, both local and more specific, activity-based training courses are organised on a regular basis. Another area of action for Legrand is the fight against corruption. In June 2011, a webcast training session was organised to make Ethics representatives aware of a corruption prevention initiative. New training materials on this topic have been created, supplementing the Group Charter of Fundamental Principles.
Finally, Legrand wants its suppliers to make a commitment in terms of social and environmental responsibility. Our suppliers are therefore encouraged to comply with the principles of the Global Compact to which the Group signed up in 2006. To date, 62% of the Group's total purchases are from strategic suppliers who share the principles of the Global Compact. Furthermore, since 2007, the "purchasing" specifications include Legrand's requirements in terms of the environment, health and safety at work, respect of human rights and compliance with labour law. Compliance with this purchasing policy is now one of the criteria for the selection and monitoring of the performance of suppliers. In its objectives for 2011 to 2013, Legrand will extend the evaluation of suppliers to include sustainable development criteria and continue to train Group purchasing personnel in the field of responsible purchasing.
In order to facilitate the implementation of the approach in terms of purchasing, our head buyers and quality specialists participated in a session to increase awareness of the Sustainable Development approach with suppliers and to present the related tools and processes. Since 2011, a sustainable development module has been incorporated in all training sessions for newly hired purchasing personnel.
In 2009, the Legrand Group Purchasing Department participated in drawing up the national charter "10 commitments for responsible purchasing". This charter provides a framework for dealings between major instructing parties and SMEs / VSBs. In France, Legrand has signed up to the 10 Responsible Commitments Charter.
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF MANUFACTURERS
The environmental responsibility of manufacturers is to continue to develop innovative solutions that favour sustainable development. The Group holds the ongoing quest for more energy-efficient buildings as one of its primary concerns. From this standpoint of respect for the environment and sustainable development, the Legrand Group has defined priority actions to be carried out in its activities. These priorities constitute the charter of its intangible commitment:
• Incorporating the environmental approach on all Group sites by implementing environmental management on ISO 14001-certified manufacturing sites, continually improving performance, and reducing the environmental impact of sites.
• Taking the environmental aspect into account right from the design phase of products, systems, and solutions, by incorporating the eco-design concept, for all design and development projects, in order to reduce and quantify the environmental impact of products over their entire life cycle.
• Fully informing customers to help them choose the best solutions, through clear and transparent information on the environmental impact of products, systems and solutions.
• Offering customers solutions to improve the energy efficiency of buildings via energy-saving products for residential, commercial, or industrial premises.
These environmental commitments are integrated into the daily activities of the company. They involve the responsibility of all participants in the company, in accordance with the sustainable development approach. This commitment to sustainable development promotes awareness and obtains the support of all industrial partners.
PROMOTING ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Energy efficiency is a fundamental factor in Legrand projects, and one of the main criteria in its value. More and more products are being proposed to optimise the management of electrical energy, supply high-quality energy, reduce consumption, and contribute to sustainable development. Offers of practical solutions, such as the electric vehicle charging station, the lighting management system, and green outlets, allow consumers to make significant energy savings while taking concrete action to help preserve natural and energy resources.
Responsible and clearly indicated information accompanies every energy efficiency offer. The true benefits provided by these sustainable development solutions also include financial savings, the amortization period, and the CO2 mass equivalent saved. Thanks to clear and sincere communication, customers have the essential information they require to make a choice and then to install the solutions to be implemented.
These solution offers are supported by the strong involvement of every player in the Legrand Group, in order to endow these products with their full economic, social, and environmental value. The reduction of the environmental footprint of buildings thus contributes to the preservation of non-renewable resources and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. For the Legrand Group, promoting energy efficiency is not only a challenge: it is what we are here for.
HIGH ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS
Product manufacture is an important stage in contributing to environmental performance. The design and development of high environmental performance products must be based on a certain number of action foundations, from materials management to eco-design. These environment-friendly products thus constitute energy-saving solutions and therefore contribute to sustainable development.
The main actions are carried out on:
• les substances visées par la directive RoHS : Legrand a éliminé toutes ces substances, même dans des équipements qui n’entrent pas dans les domaines abordés pars cette directive.
• The substances covered in the RoHS Directive: Legrand has eliminated all of these substances, even in equipment not within the scope of this directive.
• Traceability of substances: The IEC 62474 standard is used to declare substances. This declaration and REACH regulations in Europe are important elements for the Legrand Group, and are taken into account so that customers can be fully informed, all over the world.
• Recyclability must be at least 60%: this is the percentage of material able to be recycled through the application of the current state of the art in this field. To take this parameter into account while facilitating manufacture, the VDI enclosure was redesigned with 20% less material and different components from the previous range. Its recyclability was thus increased to 99%.
• ISO14001 certified manufacturing site: this certification results in reduced energy consumption, reduced waste, the control of risks, and awareness of the personnel.
• Management of the environment associated with R&D: this incorporates environment management in all phases of the development process. Innovation and creativity are therefore the fruits of this ongoing striving for environmental improvement.
• Product Environmental Profile (PEP): this is the provision of all the transparent and precise data concerning the environmental impact of products. This approach involves compliance with the ISO14025 standard, which specifies the environmental characteristics of each product over its entire life cycle.
• Eco-design, for new versions of products: according to the description of the ISO14040 standard, this means producing products with a minor environmental impact over their entire life cycle. For example, the eco-design of the new generation of emergency lighting units provided very significant progress. The total mass of the product was reduced by 48%, giving a 70% reduction in the impact on over-consumption of natural resources. These products allow the total energy consumption to be reduced by 74%, most notably thanks to the use of new lighting sources with LED technology. This emergency lighting unit naturally holds the NF environmental certification.
The eco-label is a simple, innovative tool developed by Legrand. It answers three of the main questions asked by most site owners: How much money do we save? How much CO2 do we save? What is the return on investment? This product allows customers to quickly and easily identify the savings made, in terms of both cost and energy.
This label is physically present on each product and sustainable development solution, and lists the actual savings and the return on investment time. It is a decision-making aid for all participants interested in improving the energy efficiency of buildings. For example, when installing three energy meters and a measuring unit combined with corrective actions, the following information is shown on the eco-label: Potential savings for 300 m2 office space; annual savings €799; maximum amortization time 16 months; savings per year 1000 kg CO2 equivalent of all pollutant gases (CO2, methane, carbon monoxide, fluorinated gases, etc.).
As this article has shown, sustainable development is no longer just a possible alternative: it is the path of reason. Several means of action already exist. Decisions involving their implementation concern all the economic participants. Each person on his own level can be a participant in this gigantic project, which will affect the lives of future generations. Through its public-spirited innovation policy, the Legrand Group provides equipment that combines highly desirable savings with the protection of natural resources, which are all the more precious because they are becoming so rare. Let’s make the most of it!
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