Background to the programme
In Geneva, electricity consumption has increased fivefold in fifty years. Industrial Services of Geneva (SIG) launched the ambitious and voluntary program, éco21, in 2007 in order to help Genevans (all targets mixed up) to decrease their energy consumption without sacrificing comfort or competitiveness. Various action plans were developed for each target, including the New lights measures for low-income households.
Objectives of the programme
• Reduce energy consumption by low-income households in Geneva, including by 15% in electricity consumption.
• To offer professional opportunities to young people who are seeking jobs in the participating municipalities.
Since 2014, additional measures were taken to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (heat consumption).
Letters and press articles addressing residents to announce the measures to them. Advisers in energy saving were recruited and trained. The first few days, they made appointments with the locals. Then, for three weeks, they carried out visits to households. They freely install energy efficient equipment (bulbs, economical lamps, kettles, multi-socket adaptors, water savers and joint insulation) and provide behavioural advice to residents. Reductions are also offered to encourage inefficient refrigerators to be replaced.
Quantitative and qualitative results from the implemented actions
Since 2009, 11 measures have been carried out enabling nearly 7,000 households to be visited. The savings measured amount to 2.5 GWh of electricity which is the equivalent of the annual electricity consumption of 830 households in Geneva. A reduction of 960 tons of CO2 has been observed during the first 2 pilot operations this year. The professional experience has served as a springboard for some advisers involved. The enthusiasm shown by the municipalities has given rise to an increase in the frequency of these measures: until 2013, two annual initiatives and, since 2014, six initiatives have been carried out.
6 Geneva municipalities have benefited from these initiatives: Vernier (3 initiatives) Onex (1 initiative and a second soon) Meyrin (2 initiatives), Lancy (2 initiatives), Carouge (2 inititives and a 3rd soon) and Saconnex (1 initiative and a second soon). In total out of the operations carried out, 120 advisers (unemployed and young people in occupational integration) have been involved.
Three methods are used and compared to measure energy savings:
- The annual electric bills of residents from meter readings.
- A special reading of the electric meters as well as the consumption by entire rows of buildings a month before and after the initiative.
- Using the power usage of the equipment removed, the average saving per unit is calculated according to the experience from first initiative. Accumulated savings per unit represent the total saving of the initiative.
An innovative project due to the group targeted (low income households), the free installation of equipment, the advice given and the high level of energy usage by the existing equipment. A first in Switzerland.
The eco21 ambassadors recruited at the time of the initiative, are young people in occupational integration or unemployed. Participation with these initiative has enabled some of them to find permanent jobs thereafter.
Partnership(s) developed in the context of the programme
The New lights initiatives are organized and co-funded by participating Geneva municipalities.
Partnerships with local household appliance suppliers enable substantial discounts to be obtained on the purchase of cooling appliances (refrigerators and freezers).
Difficulties and/or obstacles encountered during the programme’s implementation :
• High cost of this action plan.
• The understanding of the initiative by relevant population (cultural diversity of the beneficiaries).
• Complex Logistics.
Solutions used to overcome the difficulties and/or obstacles :
• Financing solutions found in cooperation with the participating municipalities and the Cantonal Energy Office.
• Multi-lingual advisers, communication written in different languages and official communications from the utilities and municipalities.
• Logistical tracking software based on bar-codes developed by an agent.
Suggestions for future improvement :
Since the first initiative in 2009, several adjustments have been made. Current initiatives are therefore well developed. It is in thermal energy savings, which the first pilot initiatives addressed, where potential improvements/developments could be seen. For example, in heating especially on behavioural side (adjustment of the thermostats valve). Adaptation of our intervention based on the evolution of equipment encountered at people's houses (effect of the law that abolished incandescent bulbs).
Summary of factors responsible for the programme’s success :
• Partnership with municipalities and contact with suppliers and property owners to organise the initiatives and to distribute the information to tenants
• Wide communication by local media
• Establishment of adapted training for advisers
• Dynamic and committed advisers
• Targeted and efficient logistics
Ideas for basic or applied research topics, that could be useful to the programme :
• Study the levers to promote behavioural change in this segment of the population.