Energy efficiency: energy consumption and savings

Energy consumption as the main environmental impact factor

Swisscom’s energy consumption and the related CO2 emissions primarily affect the environment and climate. Swisscom is committed to boosting energy efficiency and making increased use of renewable energies in order to minimise the environmental and climatic impact of its business activities. In addition to the network infrastructure described in the Management Commentary, Swisscom directly owns or operates a substantial real estate portfolio. This comprises offices, commercial buildings, local exchanges and data centres. Swisscom does not operate any warehouses or distribution centres, but does maintain a fleet of company and commercial vehicles.

Energy management at Swisscom

Energy management at Swisscom aims to reduce costs, enhance efficiency and keep the company’s ecological footprint to a minimum. In simplified terms, it comprises the following processes:

  • Determining energy requirements over a specific period of time
  • Determining the energy mix, particularly the electricity mix
  • Determining and approving energy efficiency targets and measures
  • Implementing energy efficiency measures
  • Generating electricity
  • Using waste heat
  • Monitoring, accounting and reporting
  • Developing and marketing sustainable ICT products and services

Consumption of electricity from renewable sources and eco-electricity

Swisscom’s energy consumption in Switzerland amounted to 448 GWh in 2016 (prior year: 434 GWh). This represents an increase of 3.2% (prior year: 6.3%). The company was able to balance out a portion of the additional energy consumption attributable to network expansion through efficiency measures. Since 2010, Swisscom has offset the proportion of nuclear power, electricity of unknown origin and electricity from fossil fuels in its electricity mix used for its network infrastructure and the businesses it manages by purchasing guarantees of origin. It is thus increasing the sustainability of its electricity mix. In 2016, as in previous years, Swisscom once again used 100% renewable energy, a claim that was verified by the SGS. The company purchased 25.0 GWh (prior year: 18.5 GWh) of “naturemade star” energy from solar power (21.0 GWh) and wind power (4.0 GWh). This makes Swisscom one of Switzerland’s largest purchasers of wind and solar power.


Efficiency measures for the electricity consumption of networks

Swisscom continued the successful “Mistral” energy-saving project in 2016 for the cooling of its telephone exchanges. The project, which now operates under the name “Mistral Future”, has once again doubled the energy efficiency of the telephone exchange cooling system by adjusting air volumes and deploying new technologies. At the end of 2016, Mistral was being used to cool 841 telecom systems in local exchanges, which represents an increase of 2.4% and a saving of 1.8 GWh in 2016. Mistral is a cooling technology that relies solely on fresh air, all year round. It replaces conventional energy-intensive cooling systems equipped with compressors and contributes to a massive improvement in energy efficiency. Mistral also eliminates the need for harmful refrigerants. In the year under review, Swisscom cooled an additional 78 mobile base stations using fresh air.

The consolidation of fixed-network and mobile platforms saved a further 8 GWh in 2016.

Efficiency measures for electricity consumption in data centres

Swisscom achieved an average PUE (power usage effectiveness) value of 1.47 across all of its data centres in 2016 (prior year: 1.50). With a PUE value of 1.34 in 2016 (in comparison to the planned target value of 1.2), the data centre in Berne Wankdorf is particularly energy efficient. The PUE value represents the ratio of total power consumed by the data centre to the power consumed by the IT systems running there.

The company increasingly uses shared servers in its data centres. This server virtualisation requires less IT infrastructure and already enabled additional savings of 17.9 GWh in 2016.

Efficiency measures for electricity consumption in buildings

During the 2016 reporting year, Facility Management carried out energy checks throughout Switzerland in accordance with the established Pioneer standard. In 2016, these checks helped optimise the operating conditions of 49 buildings, saving 416 MWh of energy (prior year: 478 MWh).

Swisscom is committed to modernising existing, inefficient lighting. This not only reduces the company’s energy consumption, but also improves the quality of the lighting. In addition, efficient lighting systems emit less warmth, which has a positive impact on ambient conditions. Swisscom has therefore optimised the lighting in two large office buildings and, for instance, replaced all the lights in the auditorium in Worblaufen with LEDs. These measures alone generate annual energy savings of 4.7 MWh.

Efficiency measures when using fossil fuels to generate heat and, consequently, reduce CO2 emissions

Swisscom measures the consumption of heating oil, natural gas and district heating on a monthly basis in its 61 biggest buildings, which together make up over half of the total floorspace. These figures are extrapolated to calculate the overall annual consumption.

During the reporting year, Swisscom consumed 174.1 terajoules (48.4 GWh) of fuel to heat its buildings (prior year: 47.3 GWh). The company’s fossil fuel-based heating mix comprises 60.3% heating oil, 16.5% natural gas and 23.2% district heating. Over the past five years, Swisscom has reduced the heat coefficient per m2 in its buildings by 2.4%. While this resulted in a reduction in CO2 emissions, the actual savings this brings are ultimately impossible to calculate due to the fact that the energy mix changes each year.

Swisscom intends to further reduce the amount of energy it uses to heat its buildings. In pursuit of this objective, it systematically continued to implement measures throughout the year under review to reduce the energy consumption and CO2 emissions involved in heating buildings. A detailed energy monitoring system has provided an improved data set for the energy analysis and uncovered instances of disproportionately high energy consumption.

Alongside this, Swisscom renovated and modernised several heating systems across Switzerland in 2016. Ahead of these renovations, Swisscom examined alternatives to heating using fossil fuels.

In three locations, Swisscom will completely eliminate the use of heating oil from the heating period 2016/2017 onwards.

At the beginning of 2016, Swisscom’s Minergie-P-Eco® business park in Ittigen near Berne received the Watt D’Or award in the “Buildings and Space” category. The new building impressed the judging panel with its cutting-edge automated ventilation system, its energy efficiency (Minergie-P-Eco), its comfort and its low operating costs and high degree of operational safety.

Swisscom also implemented nine eco-relevant building projects in 2016. As evidenced by an internal reporting form, this lets the company save 46.8 MWh of energy and reduce its CO2 emissions by 83.3 tonnes.

The energy checks also helped reduce CO2 emissions by 44.5 tonnes (prior year: 74).

The new building in the Sion business park has had a positive influence on the energy balance. Moving into the modern building (compliant with the Minergie-P-Eco standard) means that Swisscom no longer needs to rent inefficient office space.

These renovations and modernisations allow Swisscom to save 642.4 MWh and prevent 104.0 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.

Efficiency measures in fuel consumption, mobility and CO2 reduction

The ability to provide first-class customer service and expand the network infrastructure depends on the seamless mobility of staff. In 2016, the vehicles in Swisscom’s fleet covered a total of 60.2 million kilometres (prior year: 59.5 million kilometres) in the service of customers (i.e. not including private trips), which corresponds to a fuel consumption of 139.8 terajoules (38.8 GWh, prior year: 143.5 terajoules or 39.3 GWh). As a result, fuel consumption decreased by -2.6% year-on-year (prior year: -3.7%) .

Thanks to a progressive deployment strategy, the average CO2 emissions per vehicle are to be reduced from 113 g CO2 for each kilometre travelled (2015) to 95 g CO2/km by the end of 2020. In accordance with the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), CO2 emissions from vehicles in the Swisscom fleet according to manufacturers’ information averaged 109g CO2/km as of the end of 2016, 96% with of the fleet classified in energy efficiency categories A and B. Swisscom also operates a fleet of 463 (+16.9%) hybrid vehicles, 45 (-25.0%) vehicles powered by natural gas, 16 (+6.7%) electrically driven vehicles and 14 (-57.6%) e-bikes. All electrical vehicles are recharged in Swisscom buildings and garages using electricity generated from renewable energy sources. In 2016, Swisscom employees used 124,724 (-2.2%) rail tickets for business travel and were issued with 14,051 (-5.6%) half-fare cards and with 3,394 (-3.1%) GA travelcards.

Efficiency gains through sustainable ICT services at Swisscom

Swisscom not only encourages its customers to use sustainable ICT, but also uses the appropriate solutions itself:

  • Virtual conferences: 18 Swisscom sites are equipped with the Telepresence virtual video­conferencing solution, including Fastweb in Italy.
  • Work Smart: Many Swisscom employees are able to work with other colleagues via video­conferencing and desktop sharing, enabling them to complete some of their work from home or on the go. Collaboration platforms also offer a simple way of accessing knowledge. The launch of the Work Smart initiative has further embedded new working methods within the company, and Swisscom shares its experience with other companies. A management guideline provides managers with useful tips on how to manage new working methods.
  • Smart buildings: Applications in the area of the Internet of Things allow buildings or transport systems to be operated more efficiently than before. In the area of smart buildings, Swisscom conducted a successful pilot with an external company in Sargans aimed at optimising the operation of heating systems in Swisscom buildings using weather forecasts. The solution tested within the scope of this trial will now be rolled out for at least another five Swisscom buildings, beginning in winter 2016/2017.

Generating electricity

Swisscom has been generating its own electricity since 2005 and sees this as an important contribution towards a sustainable energy policy. The option of installing a solar facility is now taken into consideration each time a building is renovated. Provided such a facility is deemed economically viable, the option is then implemented.

Swisscom commissioned an additional three solar installations at transmitter stations (208 kWp) or at telephone exchanges and buildings (158 kWp) in 2016.

The total output of all of Swisscom’s solar facilities is 1,669 kWp (+366 kWp or +28.6% compared with the prior year’s output of 1,281 kWp). Swisscom intends to continue its electricity generation programme in the coming years. It has set itself the target of achieving an installed output of more than 2,000 kWp by 2020 – double the target value as at end-2015.

Utilising waste heat

In certain buildings, Swisscom meets the heating requirements in full by utilising waste heat from its operations rooms. A heat pump installed in the Swisscom operation building in Zurich Herdern in 2015, for example, supplies the heating energy needed for the entire building. This enables Swisscom to save around 900 tonnes of CO2 a year, which corresponds to 8% of the total CO2 emissions attributable to Swisscom’s heating needs. In addition, Swisscom supplies waste heat from its operation buildings or data centres to district heating associations or neighbouring areas within the scope of special agreements. Besides Zurich Herdern, for instance, it also feeds waste heat into the district heating system in Zurich Binz and Berne Wankdorf to directly heat residential and office buildings in the neighbouring area. This led to Swisscom supplying 8.1 GWh of thermal energy to the neighbouring areas as district heating in 2016 (prior year: 5.95 GWh). The measure saved 800,000 litres of heating oil (prior year: 595,000 litres) and avoided the CO2 emissions that would have been generated.

Overall impact of efficiency measures at Swisscom

Swisscom’s energy consumption (electricity, heating fuels and vehicle fuel) in Switzerland amounted to 536 GWh in 2016 (prior year: 521 GWh). Without the efficiency measures implemented since 1 January 2016, Swisscom would currently consume an additional 47.4 GWh of energy per year.

Total annual energy efficiency is calculated as the ratio of total energy used and energy saved to total energy consumption. Swisscom follows this definition within the scope of the current target agreement with the Energy Agency of the Swiss Private Sector (EnAW).

Energy savings for customers thanks to improved devices

Life-cycle assessments produced by Swisscom in recent years have identified the following three aspects as the main environmental impact factors for networks and devices:

  • Energy consumed by devices through customer use
  • Energy consumed by producing the devices
  • Energy consumed by network elements

The energy consumed by customer devices can be extrapolated to 273,000 MWh based on the devices, the energy consumption of each device and the typical usage profiles. As regards energy consumption, Swisscom makes its customers aware of the many different opportunities for saving energy, as well as offering concrete solutions:

  • Saving energy is so easy: On the initiative of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), Swisscom and two other providers decided to launch a joint information campaign. The aim of the campaign is to optimise the energy consumption of devices such as modems, routers and TV set-top boxes by encouraging customers to use the correct settings. Swisscom is supporting the campaign by informing its customers and explaining energy-optimised settings on its website.
  • ENERGY CHALLENGE 2016: Swisscom has been using its main partnership with ENERGY CHALLENGE 2016 to teach customers and non-customers how to operate their devices in an energy-efficient manner. Specifically, Swisscom hosted a roadshow across nine Swiss cities to provide tips and tricks on the energy-saving use of Swisscom products. In addition, it promoted sustainable products (including solar-operated accessories) through interactive means.
  • Swisscom TV 2.0: Swisscom TV 2.0 no longer stores recordings on the set-top box itself, but in the cloud. As a result, the box does not need a hard disk, which means that it consumes around 36 kWh or 40% less energy than its predecessor model. Swisscom has also provided Swisscom TV 2.0 customers with detailed information on the most energy-efficient settings for their set-top box for day-to-day use and when they are on holiday. In 2016, Swisscom launched a new UHD-compatible TV box on the market. In spite of its significantly improved performance, this box does not use any more energy than the previous box. By the end of 2016, Swisscom had attracted 1.48 million customers to sign up for Swisscom TV. Despite this customer growth, the level of energy consumed by customers has declined.
  • Internet-Box: Swisscom launched the Internet-Box 2 in 2016, which replaces the Internet-Box Plus. The new Internet-Box 2 now offers several energy-saving features. A time switch allows users to set times during which the Wi-Fi, the central storage function or the telephony (DECT) will be switched off. Moreover, thanks to the Internet-Box 2, fewer devices are used in the home network. This is because the boxes replace the multiple devices that used to be required to connect computers, TVs and HD fixed-line telephony, thereby significantly reducing energy consumption.
  • Low Power Gateway research project: Almost every home in Switzerland has a router that connects it to the Internet and telephone network. A Swisscom project has now shown that a new generation of energy-saving routers with an output of less than two watts could provide the same service while using far less energy. Swisscom therefore endeavours to further improve the energy efficiency of its own routers and is investing in research and development in this area. 2016 saw the conclusion of the research project to develop a pilot for an energy-saving low-power router. The further development of the low-power router for rollout into serial production does not seem feasible at the current time. Swisscom is nevertheless reviewing how the findings gained during the project can be incorporated into its device strategy.
  • Ecomode plus: Cordless phones with Ecomode plus emit minimal levels of radiation. Almost all of the cordless phones sold by Swisscom are now models with Ecomode plus.