CO2 emissions, energy consumption and efficiency

Energy consumption as the main environmental impact factor

The greatest impact Swisscom has on the environment is caused through its energy consumption and the related CO2 emissions. Swisscom is striving to boost energy efficiency and rely more on renewable energies in order to minimise the environmental impact of its business activities. 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.

Energy management at Swisscom

In simplified terms, the Swisscom energy management programme comprises the following processes:

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

Consumption of electricity from renewable sources and green electricity

Swisscom’s energy consumption in Switzerland totalled 408 GWh in 2014 (prior year: 399 GWh). This represents an increase of 2.3%. We were able to balance out a portion of the additional energy consumption attributable to further network expansion through the implementation of efficiency measures. For the electricity mix used for the network infrastructure and for consumption in businesses 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 2014, as in previous years, it once again used 100% renewable energy, a claim which was verified by the WWF. The company 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.


Efficiency measures for the electricity consumption of networks

Swisscom continued the “Mistral” energy saving project in 2014 for the cooling of its telephone exchanges. Mistral is a cooling technology that relies exclusively on fresh air all year round and replaces conventional energy-intensive cooling systems equipped with compressors and dramatically improves energy efficiency. Mistral also eliminates the need for harmful refrigerants. At the end of 2014, Mistral was being used to cool 761 (prior year: 673) telecom systems in local exchanges which represents an increase of 13%. During the year under review, Swisscom Switzerland and Swisscom Broadcast retrofitted six mobile base stations (prior year: twelve) and two transmitter stations (prior year: four) with Mistral. Swisscom also replaced all of the systems in its mobile network in 2013 and 2014, thus producing efficiency gains of around 15 GWh. This improved efficiency is confirmed by measurement results at pilot locations and an extrapolation. Swisscom is also currently expanding its mobile network. Replacing the hardware reduces the additional demand for electricity associated with this expansion.

Green Touch is a global consortium which aims to dramatically improve energy efficiency in telecommunications 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. Swisscom was a founding member, played a key role in the launch of Green Touch and is involved in two areas of research. Green Touch developed and presented several prototypes. One of these is capable of improving the energy efficiency of Fibre to the Home (FTTH) through the use of an optimised transmission protocol as well as new low-power optical components. Furthermore, Green Touch demonstrated how new mobile networks can be operated more efficiently by separating signalling from the data streams.

Efficiency measures for electricity consumption in data centres

The Swisscom IT Services data centre in Zollikofen (near Berne) boasts a high level of energy efficiency and efficient cooling. Its systems have an average annual power usage effectiveness (PUE) value of 1.3. The PUE value, representing the ratio of total power consumed by the data centre to the power consumed by the IT systems installed there, means that power consumption in Zollikofen is around 33% lower than that of conventionally built data centres. The data centre that began operating in Berne Wankdorf in September 2014 is even more efficient, with a PUE value of 1.2. Instead of conventional cooling units that eat up electricity, Swisscom uses a new type of freecooling process that utilises rainwater and works on the basis of evaporative cooling on hot summer days.

It was presented with the Watt d’Or award from the Swiss Federal Office of Energy which distinguishes outstanding achievements in the area of energy and the most innovative projects in terms of efficiency.

A growing number of servers are being used on a shared basis in data centres. This server virtualisation not only lowers Swisscom’s IT infrastructure requirements but also significantly boosts its energy efficiency.

Efficiency measures for electricity consumption in buildings

The energy analyses of seven buildings in 2014 prompted numerous optimisations in how buildings are run, which led to annual energy savings of 3.3 GWh. At its head office in Worblaufen, Swisscom replaced all of its light fittings with LED lamps, which allows the company to save 10.9 MWh of electricity annually through these measures alone.

Facility Management is also carrying out the “Pioneer @ Swisscom Energiechecks” programme throughout the entire company. These energy checks are helping to optimise the operating conditions of 83 buildings during the year under review, thus enabling Swisscom to achieve energy savings of 463 MWh (prior year: 411 KWh) and reduce its CO2 emissions by 78 tonnes (prior year: 65 tonnes).

Efficiency measures when using fossil fuels 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 floorspace. These figures are extrapolated to calculate the overall annual consumption.

During the reporting year, Swisscom consumed 172 terajoules (47.8 GWh) of fuel to heat its buildings (prior year: 55.8 GWh). The company’s heating mix comprises 71.3% heating oil, 15.3% natural gas and 13.3% district heating. Over the past six years, Swisscom has reduced the heat coefficient per m2 by 30%. While this results in a reduction in CO2 emissions, the actual savings this brings are impossible to calculate precisely 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 a more in-depth data set for the energy analysis and uncovered instances of disproportionately high energy consumption.

In addition, Swisscom has renovated and modernised several heating systems across Switzerland during the year under review. Ahead of these renovations, Swisscom carried out studies to examine alternatives to heating using fossil fuels. In three locations, Swisscom will completely eliminate the use of heating oil from the heating period 2014/2015 onwards. This approach has already stood the test at the exchange in Twann (canton of Berne) where pellets are used for heating, in St. Gallen where an environmentally friendly heating system using waste heat and district heating has been put into operation, and in Huttwil where Swisscom opted to switch to using a district heating system. These renovations and modernisations allow Swisscom to save 33 litres of heating oil and prevent 87 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year across the three locations. Swisscom also implemented ten eco-relevant building projects in 2014. As evidenced by an internal environmental scorecard, this lets the company save 161 MWh of energy and reduce its CO2 emissions by 43.2 tonnes.

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 62.7 million kilometres was driven (not including private consumption) in 2014 in the service of customers, corresponding to fuel consumption of 149 terajoules (41.4 GWh), 0.7% down year-on-year.

Thanks to a progressive deployment strategy, the average CO2 emissions per vehicle are to be reduced from 150 g CO2 for each kilometre travelled in 2010 to 110 g CO2/km 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 117 g CO2 per km as of the end of 2014, with 96.6% of the fleet classified in energy efficiency categories A and B. Swisscom also operates a fleet of 392 (+50%) hybrid vehicles, 69 (+8%) vehicles powered by natural gas, 17 (+55%) electrically driven vehicles and 34 (–13%) e-bikes. All electrical vehicles are recharged in Swisscom buildings and garages using electricity generated from renewable energy sources. In 2014, Swisscom employees used 121,260 (+16.8%) rail tickets for business travel and were issued 13,848 (13.3%) half-fare cards and 3,343 (+7.9%) GA travel cards.

Green ICT at Swisscom

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

  • Virtual conferences: 18 Swisscom sites are now equipped with the Telepresence virtual videoconferencing solution, including Fastweb in Italy.
  • Home office: Many Swisscom employees are now able to set up videoconferencing and desktop sharing with other colleagues at the click of a mouse, enabling them to work part of the time from home. Swisscom’s participation in Home Office Day and the Work Anywhere study have further incorporated the new ways of working in the company culture. The “Mobile work” guidelines provide employees and their supervisors with guidance on mobile working.

Generating electricity

Swisscom has been generating its own electricity since 2005 and sees this as an important contribution towards a sustainable energy policy. Swisscom builds solar installations wherever these make economic sense.

In 2014, Swisscom commissioned six solar installations: four at the transmitter stations of Les Ordons (canton of Jura), La Chaux-de-Fonds (canton of Neuchâtel), FELD and Haute-Nendaz (canton of Valais) with outputs of 52 kWp, 67 kWp, 64 kWp and 29 kWp respectively, and three other plants with a combined total output of 280 kWp (Lucerne-Littau: 30 kWp, Neuchâtel-Le Landeron: 30 kWp and Berne-Ittigen: 220 kWp). The total output of all of Swisscom’s solar facilities is 891 kWp (up +137% compared with the prior year). Swisscom intends to continue its electricity generation programme in the coming years. It has set itself the target of achieving an installed output of 1 MWp of solar energy by the end of 2015.

Overall impact of the efficiency measures

Swisscom’s energy consumption (electricity, heating fuels and vehicle fuel) in Switzerland amounted to 499 GWh in 2014 (prior year: 503 GWh). Without the efficiency measures implemented since 1 January 2010 Swisscom would currently consume an additional 127 GWh of energy per annum.

Utilising waste heat

Swisscom has signed two agreements in Zurich to supply waste heat from its own commercial buildings. This led to 5.7 GWh of thermal energy being supplied to the neighbouring areas as district heating in 2014 (prior year: 5.8 GWh). This measure saved 570,000 litres of heating oil (prior year: 580,000 litres) and avoided the CO2 emissions that would have been generated. Waste heat from the new data centre in Berne Wankdorf is also fed into the city of Berne’s district heating system and directly heats neighbouring homes and offices. This reduces the CO2 emissions of these homes and offices.

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 producing the devices
  • Energy consumed by network elements

The energy consumed by customer devices is extrapolated to 250,000 MWh based on the volumes sold, the energy consumption of each device and the typical usage profiles. As regards energy consumption, Swisscom on the one hand makes its customers aware of the many different opportunities for saving energy and on the other hand offers concrete solutions:

  • Saving energy is so easy: On the initiative of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (BFE), 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 using the correct settings. Swisscom is supporting the campaign by informing its customers and explaining energy-optimised settings on its website.
  • Efficient set-top boxes for TV customers: From November 2012 to the spring of 2014, Swisscom supplied all TV set-top boxes pre-set in power-saving mode. These devices consume only 0.4 watts of electricity in their lowest stand-by mode, which represents average energy savings of around 50% compared with predecessor models. This measure does not lead to any disadvantages for customers, as the only difference is that the start-up time of the boxes is a little longer in power-saving mode.
  • Swisscom TV 2.0: Swisscom launched Swisscom TV 2.0 in 2014, which no longer stores recordings on the set-top box itself, but in the cloud. As a result the new 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 the new set-top box for day-to-day use and when they are on holiday.
  • Internet box: Swisscom launched its Internet box at the end of 2013 and offered its customers special services for the new broadband Internet during the reporting year. The Internet box also offers opportunities to save energy. 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 fewer devices are used in the home network, which significantly reduces electricity consumption. The box replaces the multiple devices that used to be required to connect computers, TVs and HD fixed-line telephony.
  • Ecomode plus: Cordless phones with Ecomode plus emit only minimal levels of radiation. Almost all of the cordless phones sold by Swisscom are now models with Ecomode plus.