Energy-efficient infrastructure

Energy consumption as the principle environmental impact factor

The greatest impact Swisscom has on the environment is caused through its energy consumption. Swisscom is striving to boost energy efficiency and rely more on renewable energies in order to minimise its environmental impact. In addition to the network infrastructure described in the Management Commentary, Swisscom operates a substantial real estate portfolio itself. 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.

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Energy management at Swisscom

The Swisscom energy management programme comprises the following processes:

  • Determining energy consumption over a specific period of time
  • Determining the energy mix, particularly the electricity mix
  • Generating electricity
  • Economic use of energy and increasing energy efficiency
  • Reusing waste heat
  • Monitoring and reporting

Consumption of electricity from renewable sources and green electricity

Swisscom’s energy consumption totalled 399 GWh in 2013 (prior year: 409 GWh). It has therefore, despite further network expansion, fallen slightly, and this is to be attributed to the implementation of efficiency measures. For the electricity mix used for the network infrastructure and for consumption in buildings managed by Swisscom, compensation with certification of origin has been paid since 2010 for the share of nuclear power, electricity of unknown origin and electricity from fossil fuels. Swisscom is thus increasing the sustainability of its electricity mix. In 2013, Swisscom once again relied fully on electricity from renewable sources. Swisscom’s claim of using “100% renewable energy” is verified by the WWF.

In 2013, Swisscom purchased 7.5 GWh of “naturemade star” energy from solar power (3.5 GWh) and wind power (4 GWh). This makes Swisscom one of Switzerland’s largest purchasers of wind and solar power.

Saving and efficiency measures when using fossil fuel to generate heat

Swisscom measures the consumption of heating oil, natural gas and district heating on a monthly basis in its 62 biggest buildings, which together make up over half of the total space. It extrapolates these figures to calculate the overall annual consumption.

During the reporting year, Swisscom consumed 207.9 terajoules (57.8 GWh) of fuel to heat buildings (prior year: 55.8 GWh). The heating mix comprises 75% heating oil, 12% natural gas and 13% district heating. Over the last five years, the figure for heat per m2 has been reduced by 17.6%, which should also result in a reduction in CO2 emissions, although this is not evident on account of the energy mix changing each year.

Swisscom intends to further reduce the amount of energy it uses to heat its buildings. For this purpose, it has systematically pursued measures throughout 2013 which will serve to reduce the energy consumption and CO2 emissions of building heating. A detailed energy monitoring system has provided a more in-depth data set for the energy analysis and uncovered instances of disproportionately high energy consumption. Swisscom carried out an energy analysis on seven buildings in 2013, which identified numerous possibilities for optimising operations that could result in energy savings of 10–30%. Swisscom is planning to conduct further energy analyses in 2014. Using its Pioneer programme, Swisscom’s service provider has carried out energy checks throughout Swisscom. In total, these energy checks have optimised the operating conditions of 20 buildings. They enabled Swisscom to make energy savings of 411 MWh and to reduce its COemissions by 65 tonnes.

The St. Gallen firing plant is a good example of an energy-efficient refurbishment project: as part of a variation study, Swisscom systematically examined alternatives to fossil fuels for the purpose of heat generation. For economic and ecological reasons, it then opted to generate heat from district heating. This type of solution reduces CO2 emissions by 58%, to 32 tonnes of CO2. Swisscom also carried out further structural renovations in 2013, for which an internal eco form was used indicating the CO2 reduction levels achieved by the building projects. In 2013, Swisscom implemented nine eco-relevant building projects, as part of which 146 MWh and 38 tonnes of CO2 were saved.

Saving and efficiency measures in fuel consumption and mobility

The ability to provide first-class customer service and expand the network infrastructure depends on the seamless mobility of staff. A total of 71.3 million (+2%) kilometres were driven in 2013 in the service of customers, representing an fuel consumption of 169 terajoules (47.0 GWh), 0.4% up year-on-year.

Thanks to a progressive deployment strategy, the average CO2 emissions per vehicle should be reduced from 150 g CO2/km (2010) to 110 g CO2 for each kilometre travelled in 2015. In accordance with the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), CO2 emissions from cars in the Swisscom fleet according to the manufacturer’s instructions averaged 123 g CO2 per km as of the end of 2013. 96.5% of the cars are in the A and B energy efficiency categories. Swisscom also operates a fleet of 262 (+14%) hybrid vehicles, 64 (+42%) vehicles powered by natural gas, 11 (+10%) electrically driven vehicles and 39 (–13%) e-bikes. All electrical vehicles are recharged in Swisscom buildings and garages using electricity generated from renewable energy sources.

In 2013, Swisscom employees used 103,818 (+2.4%) rail tickets for business travel and were issued 12,222 (–5%) half-fare cards and 3,097 (+10.9%) GA travel cards.

Electricity consumption savings and efficiency measures

Swisscom continued the “Mistral” energy saving project in 2013 for the cooling of its telephone exchanges. Mistral is a cooling technology that relies exclusively 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. Mistral was being used to cool 673 telecom systems in local exchanges at the end of 2013. This represents an increase of 11% compared with the previous year. In 2013, Swisscom Switzerland also retrofitted 12 additional mobile base stations and Swisscom Broadcast four transmitter stations with Mistral. Swisscom is currently replacing all of the systems in its mobile network. Based on measurement results at pilot locations and extrapolations, Swisscom estimates that this replacement strategy will result in efficiency gains of around 15 GWh per year. In parallel to this, Swisscom is also expanding its mobile network. Replacing the hardware reduces the added electricity consumption associated with this expansion.

The systems installed in the Swisscom IT Services data centre in Zollikofen (near Berne) feature a particularly high level of energy efficiency and efficient cooling. The centre’s average annual power usage effectiveness (PUE) value is 1.3. This value represents the ratio of the total power consumed by the data centre to the power consumed by the IT systems. This PUE value means that power consumption in Zollikofen is around 33% lower than that of conventionally built data centres. The newly constructed data centre in Berne Wankdorf will achieve a PUE value of 1.2. Instead of conventional cooling units that eat up electricity, the centre uses a new type of free-cooling process that works on the basis of evaporative cooling on hot summer days. Rainwater supplies all of the water required for this system.

Green Touch is a global initiative which aims to dramatically improve energy efficiency in ICT networks by a factor of 1,000. Green Touch was set up in 2010 and is already supported by 50 manufacturers, academic institutions and network operators. As a founding member, Swisscom played a key role in the launch of Green Touch and is involved in two research areas.

In its fourth year, Green Touch presented prototypes to the public that had been developed by several of the consortium’s partners. One of these prototypes is capable of making the transmission protocol for Fibre to the Home (FTTH) more energy-efficient. Green Touch has also demonstrated how an optical distribution node can function with 70% less energy.

Generating electricity

Swisscom started generating its own electricity in 2005 and sees this as an important contribution towards a sustainable energy policy.Swisscom builds solar installations wherever these make economic sense. In 2013, Swisscom Broadcast commissioned four solar installations: two at the transmitter stations on the Valzeina (canton of Grisons) and at Niederhorn (canton of Berne) with outputs of 52 kW and 56 kW respectively, and two other plants (Lausanne und Berne-Ittigen) with a combined total output of 59 kW. The total output of all of Swisscom’s solar facilities is 376 kWp (+40% in comparison with the prior year). Swisscom intends to continue its electricity generation programme in the coming years.

Utilising waste heat

Swisscom has entered into two agreements in Zurich governing the supply of waste heat from its own commercial buildings. The agreements cover a volume of more than 5.8 GWh of thermal energy, which is supplied to the neighbouring area as district heating. This measure saves 580,000 litres of heating oil and prevents the CO2 emissions that would be generated from this amount of oil. Waste heat from the newly constructed data centre in Berne Wankdorf will be fed into the city of Berne’s heating network to provide heat for neighbouring homes that are being renovated accordingly. This reduces CO2 emissions for the households concerned.