Challenges for all
For the majority of the 20th century, massive use was made of non-renewable energy sources, such as coal, gas and oil. These resources were abundant, seemed inexhaustible at the time, and environmental concerns were far from being the pressing issues they are today. So energy savings were not a major problem at that time.
Then, in 1973, came the first oil crisis. The sudden hike in the cost of fossil fuels triggered a global awareness that these reserves are limited and that there is a corresponding need to save energy. The first solutions for insulating buildings - already the prime consumers of energy - began to appear. 1974 saw the introduction of France's first thermal insulation regulation.
We began to insulate roof spaces and walls, and install double glazing with the aim of improving building energy performance. Over the space of 30 years, the average energy consumption of a new home fell from around 400 kWh/(m² per year) to less than 250 kWh/(m² per year).
Today, these energy-saving issues have been joined by concerns over environmental impacts, such as climate change. Cutting our energy consumption to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with global warming has become an obligation.
Thermal insulation regulations
France has seen a succession of thermal insulation regulations since 1974: 1982, 1988, 2000, 2005 for new-build projects, and 2007 for existing buildings. These regulations have brought with them the definition of new levels, such as Bâtiment Basse Consommation (BBC), the low energy consumption certification scheme for buildings that consume less than 50 kWh/(m² per year). Since 2012, all new buildings in France must comply with the BBC standard, and this requirement will be introduced generally for existing buildings between now and 2020. The medium-term target is to create energy positive buildings that generate more energy than they consume.
Being economical and eco-responsible
In this highly demanding context, insulating a building makes it possible to combine energy savings (of gas, electricity or heating oil) with reduced greenhouse gas emissions and greater occupant comfort in terms of temperature (summer and winter) and acoustic performance (insulation solutions deliver energy and acoustic performance simultaneously).
Using high-quality insulation products delivers financial benefits such as tax credits and even financial subsidies in France, as well as upgrading the building energy rating.