The French Environment and Energy Management Agency (Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l’Énergie, Ademe) is a public establishment of an industrial and commercial nature. Under the joint oversight of the French Ministries of Sustainable Development and Energy and of Higher Education and Research, Ademe facilitates, coordinates and undertakes environmental protection and energy management projects.

> For more information about Ademe

Agenda 21

Programme adopted by the 178 countries which signed the Rio Declaration in June 1992, listing a set of actions to be incorporated into national law in order to make progress towards sustainable development. In 2003, France decided to facilitate the introduction of 500 local Agenda 21 actions over five years.


A joint venture formed by Schneider Electric (51%) and Bouygues Immobilier (49%), Aveltys is an expert in energy performance and the long-term enhancement of commercial property assets. Whether for new or existing office buildings, Aveltys implements and guarantees Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs), as at Green Office® Meudon. From the design stage, Aveltys proposes solutions and services to guarantee integrated energy performance at all times over a building's entire lifetime.

Green lease

Introduced by the Grenelle II Act, a green lease requires the tenant and the building owner to exchange all information relating to the energy consumption of their premises. Created with the aim of contributing to an across-the-board improvement in buildings' energy performance, it applies to leases concluded or renewed as of 1 January 2012. A green lease may, for example, define the obligations on the tenant to limit the premises' energy consumption. The tenant must also allow the owner access to the property to carry out works to improve energy efficiency.

BBC-effinergie® (certification)

Created in 2007, BBC-effinergie® certification required a certain level of consumption in relation to the minimum thresholds defined in the 2005 Thermal Regulations (RT 2005). The energy requirement for new residential properties at the time was 50 kWhpe/m²/year. As this threshold became the new standard set by the 2012 Thermal Regulations (RT 2012), BBC-effinergie® certification has not been awarded since 1 January 2013.

Carbon balance

A carbon balance is a tool that counts the greenhouse gas emissions of an activity, of an organisation or of individuals. It is generally expressed in tonnes of CO2 emitted. Amongst other things, a carbon balance helps to highlight an activity's dependence on fossil energies, and hence its economic vulnerability. By quantifying greenhouse gas emissions, a carbon balance also paves the way for carbon offsetting actions (see carbon neutrality). In France, the carbon balance also serves as the basis for calculating the greenhouse gas emissions balance (bilan des émissions de gaz à effet de serre, BEGES), now compulsory for companies with more than 500 employees and local authorities with more than 50,000 inhabitants.

Bioclimatic (design)

This refers to a building in which the heating and air-conditioning systems make the most of sunlight and natural air circulation.


Organic matter of plant, animal or fungal origin used as a source of energy after thermal, biochemical or chemical conversion. Energy derived from biomass is deemed to be renewable if it does not entail over-exploitation of resources or have too much impact on biodiversity or soil fertility. Likewise, exploitation or cultivation of the resource (timber, for example) must not be detrimental to other resources, such as the amount of arable land or the availability of water.


The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) is a British certification scheme comparable to the HQE® (High Environmental Quality) scheme in France.

Sun shade

Devices that protect all or some of a façade, terrace, courtyard or other part of a building from sunlight. Sun shades are designed in particular to prevent overheating and glare. Adjustable sun shades make it possible to follow the sun's course both during the day and throughout the seasons, and hence to better control the amount of heat and light according to requirements. In summer, for example, the amount of sunlight can be reduced to prevent offices from getting too hot, while in winter natural light can penetrate more deeply into the inside of the building, helping to light and heat the space.

Direct daylight

An office has direct daylight when the outside environment is directly visible from it. Direct daylight contributes to user comfort, through direct light, windows and an external view, and helps to optimise natural lighting.

Low-energy building (Bâtiment Basse Consommation, BBC)

A low-energy building is a generic term for a building that consumes less energy for heating and air-conditioning than a standard building in the same category.

Positive-energy building (Bâtiment à énergie positive, BEPOS)

A building is said to be positive-energy if it produces more energy than it consumes for its operation.

Energy efficiency certificate (Certificat d'économie d'énergie, CEE)

A mandatory French government energy-saving scheme for vendors of energy (electricity, gas, heating oil, petrol, etc.), who are encouraged to actively promote energy efficiency to their customers (households, local authorities, businesses). Energy efficiency certificates are allocated under certain conditions to qualifying vendors as well as to other entities not within the scheme which carry out energy-saving initiatives.

Environmental certification

Environmental certification is the acknowledgment that a product, service or enterprise complies with a current set of environmental standards. Certification can be granted only after audit by an outside body approved by the public authorities, such as AFNOR, the French standardisation body. As well as showing that certain standards are met, certification requires the recipient to monitor and ensure compliance with the corresponding requirements at all times.

Operating costs

For a building, operating costs include all expenses in connection with its operation, such as energy consumption (lighting, heating, ventilation, etc.), upkeep and maintenance.


Cogeneration refers to the simultaneous production of two different energies in a single process. In most cases this means the production of heat and power (cogeneration is sometimes called combined heat and power, or CHP), whereby heat is derived from power generation or power is generated from heat. A cogeneration plant therefore recycles the energy released (thermal or other), which is no longer considered as waste.

Thermal comfort

A state of thermal equilibrium between the human body and its environment. That equilibrium depends on many factors, such as a person's clothing and physical activity, but also on the ambient temperature, insulation, humidity, whether or not there are draughts, etc. Beyond a certain level of imbalance, people experience discomfort (feeling too hot or too cold in a room, for example).

Energy Performance Contract (EPC)

An Energy Performance Contract uses an energy management system, which measures a building's energy production and consumption in real time, to enable the operator to guarantee the user a certain level of operating costs, according to a predefined usage.
> Find out all about Energy Performance Contracts

Thermo-active slab

Thermo-active slabs use the inertia of a building's concrete structures. The concrete mass is used directly to "store" heat or cold by means of pipes incorporated into the material during construction which carry the heat transfer fluid. The temperature in these pipes can be regulated to ensure that a constant temperature is maintained on the surface of the slab all year round.

Sustainable development

Though there are many definitions of sustainable development, it may be summarised as development which meets current needs without preventing future generations from meeting theirs. The concept of sustainable development is often represented as the intersection of three spheres: economic development, social well-being and preservation of the environment.

Environmental responsibility (or eco-responsibility)

A principle that may apply to individuals, a business, a community or any kind of organisation. Broadly speaking, environmental responsibility means giving consideration to sustainable development issues in all areas of daily life, whether consumption, production, transport or social interactions.

Greenhouse effect

A thermal phenomenon that affects several planets, including Earth, whereby some solar radiation passes through the atmosphere and reaches the surface. The surface heats up and releases infrared radiation, some of which is absorbed by the atmosphere. Although the process is essential to ensure a temperature favourable to life, an increase in the amount of certain so-called "greenhouse" gases, such as CO2, in the atmosphere contributes to higher temperatures. Global warming and its immediate consequences, such as ice-cap melting, are a direct result.

Carbon footprint

Measurement of the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted as a result of individuals, companies or other organisations burning fossil energies. For example, the fuel used for daily car journeys contributes directly to the driver's carbon footprint. The carbon footprint is generally expressed in tonnes of CO2 per year.

Environmental footprint

An indicator of the pressure exerted by human beings on nature, calculated by measuring the surface area needed to produce the resources and absorb the waste of a given population.

Primary energy

Primary energy is the original form of any natural energy before processing, storage, transport and use.

Renewable energy

Energy generated from natural processes (sunlight, wind, hydro, geothermal, etc.). Contrary to fossil fuels, renewable energy is continually replenished and does not emit any greenhouse gases.

Heat transfer fluid

A fluid used in heat exchange systems such as refrigerators, boilers, air-conditioners, solar thermal collectors, heat pumps, etc.

Building Management System (BMS)

A building management system is a computer-based control system which oversees all the equipment installed in a building. The BMS can control all types of equipment, such as the power supply, lighting, ventilation, lifts and escalators, etc. Different types of data are collected, including measurements (temperature, operating time, etc.), states (on/off for a machine, position, etc.) and alarms (malfunction, overrun, etc.).

Grenelle Environment Summit

A series of meetings organised in 2007 in France between politicians, non-governmental organisations and civil society representatives, covering many environment-related issues. The aim was to determine practical actions to encourage sustainable development in all sectors (transport, industry, property, education, the economy, taxation, etc.). One of the flagship objectives of the Grenelle Environment Summit is to reduce France's consumption of thermal energy (oil, gas, etc.) by 25% by 2020.

Dry borehole geothermal energy

The dry borehole technique consists in circulating heat transfer fluid in a closed circuit underground. The fluid heats up and the heat may be used directly or converted into power.

Groundwater geothermal energy

Heat contained in groundwater can be captured and converted into power or used directly to heat buildings. One of the most commonly used techniques is to bore two deep holes. The first (the extraction well) is drilled upstream of the groundwater flow in order to capture the heat from the water and convert it into energy. The second (the injection well) discharges the colder water into the natural environment further downstream.

Dry borehole geothermal energy

The dry borehole technique consists in circulating heat transfer fluid in a closed circuit underground. The fluid heats up and the heat may be used directly or converted into power.

High Energy Performance (Haute Performance Énergétique, HPE)

A set of public labels for a building's energy, health and safety and environmental performance. The scheme also extends to activities related to the building's design, construction, operation and even maintenance. There are several different labels according to the scope (construction or renovation, type of energy sources used, etc.) and the energy performance sought.

For example, NF Bâtiments Tertiaires en Exploitation – Démarche HQE certification is awarded to buildings where the quality of the building itself, monitoring and maintenance processes and the environmental quality of practices in use generate good environmental performance in the operational phase. The scheme covers all tertiary sectors.

High Environmental Quality (Haute Qualité Environnementale, HQE®)

Created in the early 1990s, High Environmental Quality HQE® is an environmental certification scheme based on a 14-target scorecard which aims to improve building design or renovation by limiting the environmental impact as far as possible. Comfort and health are also included in the criteria. The concept has given rise to NF Ouvrage Démarche HQE® certification, issued by Afnor, the French standardisation body.

Socially responsible investing (SRI)

Socially responsible investing means systematically taking environmental and social criteria into consideration in addition to purely financial criteria when making an investment decision. On the property market it means, for example, investing in buildings which comply with environmental standards and in companies committed to a sustainable development policy.

Thermal insulation

Broadly speaking, thermal insulation consists in keeping heat transfers between a hot and a cold environment to a minimum. For a building, the aim is to maintain a comfortable inside temperature whatever the weather outside. There are many ways of insulating a building, from both the outside and the inside. Good thermal insulation has many advantages :

  • reduced energy consumption, and hence lower costs, by reducing the need for heating or air-conditioning,
  • greater user comfort,
  • a reduced environmental footprint,
  • enhancement of the building's energy performance and hence of its value as a property asset.

Environmental label

A label is a collective mark with its own name and logo, used by companies, brands or products which comply with the label's specifications. The aim is to clearly certify certain specific advantages and characteristics. A labelling scheme may be run privately (managed by a producer association, for example) or by a public body.

For example, the NF Environnement label, an official green label owned and managed by Afnor, the French standardisation body, applies to products which have a reduced environmental impact. It guarantees both the product's reduced environmental impact and its quality of use. Labelling criteria are defined in partnership with the public authorities and award of the label is conditional on certification by an acknowledged independent body.


Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is an American rating system for green buildings. Evaluation criteria include energy efficiency, water consumption efficiency, heating efficiency, the use of locally sourced materials and reuse of surplus materials.

Soft mobility

A generic term which embraces the design, implementation, operation and management of environment-friendly transport modes. As a rule, the environmental impact of a means of transport (especially its greenhouse gas emissions) is the first criterion for determining whether it is "soft" or not. However, many other aspects may be included in the definition, such as safety, noise levels and the impact on the urban landscape. Walking, cycling, tramways and electric vehicles are frequently cited as examples of soft mobility. Also referred to as ecomobility and sustainable mobility.

Carbon neutrality

A principle which consists in offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions of an activity by implementing or maintaining arrangements to capture or reduce the same quantity of greenhouse gas.
For example, a business whose activity generates a certain amount of greenhouse gas may finance the planting of a forest intended to capture the same amount of greenhouse gas. Offsetting may take place on the same site or elsewhere, directly by the business or through a specialist company or an NGO.

Solar photovoltaic panel

A solar photovoltaic panel is a device which converts solar radiation into electrical current. Unlike solar thermal panels, which produce heat, photovoltaic panels produce power.

Solar thermal panel

A solar thermal panel is a device which collects solar energy transmitted by the sun and transfers it to a heat transfer fluid (gas or liquid) in the form of heat.

Energy performance

A building's energy performance is defined mainly according to its energy consumption and its impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. An energy performance audit is mandatory for any building offered for sale or rent. The result must be included in the environmental information provided in every property advertisement.

The energy performance diagnosis describes the building's facilities and equipment (heating, domestic hot water, air-conditioning, ventilation) and conditions of use. The result is given either as the amount of actual energy consumed on the basis of historical data or as an estimate for a standard usage.

Heat pump

A heat pump is a device which transfers an amount of heat from a heat source to a heat sink against a temperature gradient. Depending on the direction of the transfer, the heat pump may produce heat or cold. Refrigerators and air-conditioners are heat pumps. In properties, heat pumps are mainly used for heating and cooling purposes.

Thermal bridge

A thermal bridge is a place in a building envelope where a variation in thermal resistance occurs, such as where two elements meet (a wall and a slab) or where there is a change of materials (glass and concrete on a façade). Thermal bridges are points where the building's thermal insulation is less effective. Reducing thermal bridges thus contributes directly to improving a building's energy performance. In a poorly insulated house, for example, thermal bridges can account for 20% of heat loss (source: Ademe).


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a form of self-regulation whereby companies incorporate social, environmental and economic concerns into their activities. By extension, it refers to their commitment to sustainable development. That commitment may be expressed at all levels of the company, from the choice of raw materials to the services offered to employees, from the choice of energy-efficient offices to corporate sponsorship of organisations.

Thermal regulations (réglementation thermique, RT)

Thermal regulations set a maximum limit on the energy consumption of new buildings. After versions in 2000 and 2005, the current regulations date from 2012 (RT 2012). They apply to new residential and non-residential buildings and cover energy consumption for heating, domestic hot water, lighting, air-conditioning, ventilation and auxiliary equipment. The requirements correspond to those of BBC-effinergie® certification. For residential properties, for example, maximum energy consumption is 50 kWhpe/m²/year.


Software developed by Bouygues Immobilier to manage the first Energy Performance Contract (EPC) concluded for Green Office® Meudon. SI@GO has three main functions :

  • to record data about the building's energy use at regular intervals (every 15 minutes),
  • to transmit and present that data to stakeholders in a clear and accessible way,
  • to produce a monthly report which will validate, or otherwise, compliance with commitments under the EPC.

SI@GO provides real-time analysis of production and consumption, by type of use and by location, and manages the building's energy balance. The software is also capable of distinguishing between consumption covered by the EPC or not. For example, consumption recorded during the weekend will not be counted if the EPC provides only for usage on working days.

Smart grids

Smart grids are electrical grids which use information technology to optimise the production, distribution and consumption of energy, between supply and demand. At neighbourhood level, for example, energy generated by office buildings during the day may be supplied to residential buildings in the evening.

Decentralised ventilation units

Decentralised ventilation units (DVUs) are devices that use air drawn from the façade to heat, cool and ventilate spaces. DVUs offer a significant energy benefit in comparison with a system based on central air processing plants.

As well as using less energy, DVUs can be adjusted individually by each user to ensure optimum comfort. As they have a smaller footprint than conventional centralised systems, they also help to optimise the use of space.

Effective green value

A building's effective green value may be defined as the net value generated by better environmental performance, including not only energy performance (consumption levels) but also materials used, access to soft mobility, integration into the local community, waste management, etc. Effective green value is increasingly taken into consideration when valuing an asset for it has many implications, including :

  • making the asset more attractive and easier to sell,
  • better functionality, hence less tenant turnover and less risk of vacancy,
  • greater user comfort, improving occupants' well-being and productivity,
  • increasing the value of the asset, thus justifying higher rents,
  • lower operating costs, etc.

A building's effective green value depends on three key factors :

  • the intrinsic quality of the building itself (bioclimatic design, compliance with environmental standards, etc.),
  • good operation by the manager (for example, via an Energy Performance Contract),
  • appropriate behaviour by users.

Natural ventilation

Natural ventilation is the most elementary form of ventilation. It is based primarily on convection: hot air in a room rises and creates a depression which attracts cold air, and hence new air. By judiciously locating air intakes and exhausts in a building, it is therefore possible to optimise natural ventilation of the premises. That is the case in Green Office® Rueil, for example, where decentralised ventilation units capture air directly from the façade