Ouvrage Venaus Villarodin
Ouvrage Venaus Villarodin

Investing in eco-design

Energetic transition
In response to the scope and complexity of environmental challenges, RTE has embarked on an ambitious and integrated eco-design programme. Its goal: embedding an eco-design culture within the company and providing the necessary tools to ensure that environmental impact is automatically considered in each and every decision, in the same way as technical and economic factors.

Eco-design entails a holistic view of a project’s lifecycle. It starts with a purpose-built design. And it considers all the stages in a product’s lifecycle, from the mining of raw materials to end-of-life processing, from manufacturing, transportation and logistics through to usage.

Anne-Sophie Desaleux
Eco-design pilot

This holistic approach helps to simultaneously reduce the footprint left by a number of effects. For each solution being considered, we have to look at energy intensity, greenhouse-gas emissions, the rationalised use of resources and the effects on biodiversity, not to mention the reuse of waste

Paysage avec ouvrage RTE
Interview of Anne-Sophie Desaleux, Eco-design pilot at RTE

The first step requires RTE to implement an eco-design management process in order to bring about far-reaching behavioural changes. An extensive programme covering the areas of educational awareness, training, accountability and re-framing of environmental considerations has been undertaken. This programme involves life-size trials in order to move forward. The second step will involve the provision of tools and standards for the workforce, in order to embed the outcomes of successfully completed trials.

This initiative has already shown some success where RTE’s footprint is concerned: RTE now applies internal carbon pricing to its grid-expansion decisions. This gives greater weight to the carbon criterion in its decision-making process, so as to reduce the impact of the electricity system on climate change. Another example: a life-cycle assessment (LCA) was conducted in support of a policy on the removal of buried connectors, which opted for a solution that least affected the environment. And yet another: contract companies supplying equipment for substation buildings were urged to further decrease their footprint through the establishment of best-bidder requirements and criteria that were determined after assessing components that adopt a life-cycle approach. Low-carbon concrete is the preferred option. Other contracts revolve around life-cycle costs and include, for instance, the cost of electricity losses.


Located near Annemasse (74) not far from the Swiss border, the new 225 000/ 63 000-V Juvigny substation will support strong economic growth in the region by expanding the grid. Juvigny is also an unprecedented eco-project with various measures being taken to protect biodiversity while work is being executed.
In addition to the 49 environmental commitments signed up to by all contractors, Juvigny is an eco-project, located in a protected wooded area belonging to the town of Juvigny.

What is an eco-project? An eco-project sets the standard for resource management and environmental protection. Juvigny is a concrete example of such a project. During the timber extraction and stump removal phase, tree stumps were crushed on site and used as mulch in the town’s green spaces or as decoration material by local artists. The wood was used for lumber or wood heating, depending on its quality. "Organic waste and earth are reused as much as possible on the site and nearby, thereby reducing the carbon footprint", explains Carole Gachon, an apprentice engineer working on the project. RTE has committed to a nation-wide waste-recycling target of 75%. The Lyon-based engineering & development department is currently at 69%.

Our environmental commitments do not stop there and go further than waste management. Alongside the League for the Protection of Birdlife, the National Forestry authority and other organisations, RTE will be replanting trees and building lakes to accommodate amphibians, including the yellow-bellied bell ringer (a small toad measuring 4 to 5 cm at adulthood). All of these measures seek to protect biodiversity on the site.