Becket House Case Study Image March 2019
Bouygues Energies & Services uses its London office in Becket House as a testbed for tech

UK lags behind on sustainability, says Bouygues

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Nicola Byrne

Emmanuel Chautemps Bouygues 1Saying the name Bouygues in France will often yield nods and lead on to a conversation about one of the largest property companies in the country.

Bouygues has also brought this expertise to the UK, and with over 129,000 employees in 93 countries the global firm is making moves and smart ones at that, within our hospitals, higher education, central government, offices and more.

Emmanuel Chautemps, board director at Bouygues Energies & Services, a Bouygues Construction subsidiary, believes the future of facilities management lies in data analytics, user experience and integration, “If you have 20 apps that all do different things, one controls the lights, the other controls heat, that’s not how it works, that’s not how we work.”

Chautemps has been with Bouygues since 2001, originally as the managing director for IT and information systems for the UK and Canada. He’s responsible for commercial building activities across the UK, leading smart data-led facilities management, connected buildings, building user experience and agile working transformation offers.

The future of FM

Chautemps remembers visiting a building in Amsterdam, The Edge developed by cool developer Edge Technologies in 2014, which at the time was thought to be the most sustainable and smartest building in the world and acted as Edge Technologies’ HQ and testbed.

“There was a lot of tech in there, but it had not been thought from the end user perspective. There were lots of different apps that didn’t talk to each other,” explained Chautemps.

Five years on, Chautemps believes there’s a shift happening: “We need to empower the user of a building, in the past it was focusing on making the buildings smart. Now we’re focusing on how we interact, what’s the experience going into a room, or how do users know what room they need to be in to be more productive.”

Another mega trend in facilities management, asked for by clients, according to Chautemps, is using data to drive better service. From a building perspective, Chautemps believes we’ll see more of a shift from a cost centre to a profit centre, generating revenue from buildings through better use of space.

Carbon conscience

With net-zero targets and large property companies making promises to make their buildings better, being conscious of carbon can no longer be ignored in the built environment.

This is reflected in the demand for energy saving services from Bouygues, which Chautemps believes has accelerated over the past year: “I’m seeing a move to more carbon neutral buildings.”

He added: “Over the past 10 years where we’ve seen chief executives show interest regarding their carbon footprint and we’ve been very successful in that area, helping organisations to decarbonise and wrapping it up in a guaranteed contract.

“We take all the risk and guarantee the savings and decarbonisation. It’s a very attractive product for clients.”

Ahead of the pack

Bouygues was founded by Francis Bouygues in the 1950’s and has been led by his son Martin Bouygues, since 1989. The firm’s mission statement combines a commitment to sustainable practices with a passion for innovation, which is something Bouygues has been doing for a while now and what a lot of companies in the built environment are starting to attempt.

“I don’t think we’re ahead of the curve. I think clients drive a lot of the innovation,” said Chautemps.

“I suspect when we look at properties, we tend to work with owners of buildings or estates, it makes it easier to drive those changes. When focus is on cost per square foot, you tend to forget the medium- to long-term benefits.

“We’re quite a long-term FM service, our average length of contract is 12 years, so we tend to look at things in the long-term, not the short-term.”

Chautemps referred to the Sustainable Facilities Management Index, which measures the sustainability of FM companies. The top five companies are outside the UK, including Engie, Skanska, Vinci, BAM and Bouygues.

He said: “I think there might be a different approach by European countries to address sustainability. At the top of the index are companies from countries including France and the Nordic countries which have a medium- to long-term approach. The answer is probably there rather than a secret.”

Chautemps added: “It’s also working with partners, SMEs and more. No one is big enough to do everything.”

Key to be curious

Bouygues has invested heavily in working with startups and technology companies entering the property space.

Chautemps explained: “We forge partnerships, working with them for two years. It’s about knowing each other, the business model, as well as supporting them in their growth. You have to invest and test the product. It’s a very fulfilling relationship.

“Some partnerships are very active, and some have not worked. The key is to be curious.”

Bouygues Energies & Services has worked with small tech startups and larger organisations Cisco, Embix and Cap Gemini. Work includes research exploring smart grids and energy storage, smart cities, energy performance and big data applications.

One startup Bouygues Energies & Services is working with is Forge, founded in 2016 and based in Bristol, known as the UK’s silicon gorge.

The firm has three products, Bluepoint, Abacus and Reach, which help landlords to provide a secure check-in for employees and guests, footfall data to help with space utilisation planning and makes access control systems smart by connecting IoT devices.

Exchange Tower London Receptionist Using Forge Bluepoint 2 291019

A receptionist using Forge Bluepoint at Exchange Tower in London

Paul Speariett, co-founder of Forge, said: “We provide innovation to support their existing FM services. We go in with Bouygues to provide services around digital management primarily and occupancy awareness. What we do for them is fill in their gaps in technology, and rather than try and do that themselves, they work with partners like ourselves.”

Bouygues has implemented Forge into its London office Becket House, which the firm uses as a testbed for tech trials. The firm has started to use Abacus for people counting at Becket House, which is Forge’s first commercial real estate use of the product. Bouygues will be using the data from Forge Abacus to monitor utilisation for facilities management.

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