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Each year we hold our internal Sustainability Awards open to all our people within Bouygues & Energies Services UK. The Awards recognise and reward those who have not only demonstrated their commitment and improvement to making a real difference to our sustainability performance, but also implemented innovative solutions that bring about environmental, social or economic benefits with potential for being adopted by the company on a wider scale.

This year, the award was won by Ron Manouach and his team working on a project at the Strensham and Llanwern Solar farms. We spoke with Ron to ask him a bit more about what the project means to him and the team.

Congratulations on being voted the winner for the Bouygues E&S Sustainability Awards. Tell me a bit about the project.

It’s an initiative to implement smart technologies to manage electricity consumption and improve energy efficiency in construction compounds. Often, site power is provided by a diesel fuelled generator set which runs at high load 24/7. The ‘Gaia Automate’ tool switches the site consumers (for example heating) on and off periodically, or based on the status of smart sensors, to dramatically reduce the demand on the generator, saving fuel.  We began working on it as part of a Learning & Development course called 'Building your Leadership Signature', where the idea was pitched, selected, and taken forward for implementation. Since that time, we have managed to carry out one trial and we are actively developing new ones. 

How did the idea come about?

Through our involvement with construction projects over a few years now, it was clear to us that even though all other 'sectors' are moving towards a net-zero future, the construction process itself remains largely unchanged and there is not a lot of focus on improving energy efficiency in construction compounds. Usually, these are high-impact, short-duration projects and, historically, there has not been significant opportunity to implement energy-saving measures on the construction site. However, looking at preliminary project costs, and having been on site for a significant amount of time, one cannot avoid the question 'how can we spend less and not use up so much fuel?'. The advent of smart technologies makes that a possibility. 

What have you achieved so far?

Getting approval for our idea in a recent ‘dragons' den’ style presentation to members of the Bouygues Construction UK board and securing the sponsorship of two leaders within the UK organisation was a great achievement, not to mention having just won the Sustainability award! In terms of tangible achievements, we have significantly reduced the energy usage on the Llanwern Solar Farm construction site and saved £5k on fuel cost and 20 tonnes of CO2 emissions during the first two months. Scaling this up across both Bouygues E&S solar farms currently under construction (4 compounds), for a 6 month duration (assuming we implemented this at the start of the process), this could lead to a total saving of £60k and 240 tonnes of CO2 emissions! We're now actively pursuing opportunities for other trials in projects of different Bouygues entities in the UK, as the idea has so much more impact if we scale it up and roll it out across the entire organisation.

 How easy would this be to roll out on other sites?

It should be very easy to roll this out on other sites, provided that we engage with all stakeholders and are afforded the possibility to speak to the right stakeholders. We have secured two great sponsorships plus the support of the environment team, so going forward this should be achievable.

What are you goals for 2021?

We'd like to implement this on a few more sites of different set-ups (not only solar farms, not only off-grid, etc.) so that we have more complete proof of concept. We'd then like to align with procurement teams to ensure that this technology forms part of our standard site mobilisation solutions. Finally, we'd like to start discussions about the implementation of this on international projects.

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