Many countries have made energy audits mandatory, especially for larger consumers, as part of their energy efficiency policy. But is this provision effective? Is it the first step in the desired energy transition for all consumers?
In cases where consumers have little risk of being subject to mandatory compliance, audits are actually carried out because they are mandatory. The goal of many consumers who are subject to this obligation is therefore to have a stamp or certificate. The market price, when it is not regulated, of this service is the price of a paper, low, denoting the low value associated with the audit.
In the opposite cases, the palpable anxiety during the audit concerns the amount of investment needed after the audit.
These seemingly caricatural behaviors are nevertheless numerous and can be found in all market segments: commercial buildings, industry, real estate owners. As a result of the audit, a large number of consumers return to their activities and no longer worry about energy.
The audit was useless and the market is getting poorer: to meet such consumers, auditors work at least for no other purpose than to issue the certificate so long awaited and without any real competence to go beyond this stage.
However, let us not generalize and not reduce the market to those actors who are not very concerned about energy efficiency. Large and medium-sized consumers are, in fact, more and more numerous to deploy an energy policy, either for economic reasons, or in the context of certifications that are useful for their business, or even, more rarely, for ethical reasons. For them, the audit is a real starting point or an intermediate assessment, intended to guide them towards priority actions or to detect unknown or undervalued energy performance springs. These consumers rely on auditors providing them with a global vision and detailed opinion.
Audits, in themselves, do not generate energy efficiency: in hostile terrain, they do not stimulate the actors, on favorable ground, they would have been driven without being imposed.
Work obligations, intended to progressively raise the minimum level of accepted performance, cannot have a rapid impact on the overall performance of a country.
Perhaps we should explore a path of empowering all actors, for example, by requiring the definition and commitment, after the audit, of an improvement plan to achieve a given goal at the end of a period of 5 to 10 years. The audit could give the minimum objective to be achieved and non-compliance with the commitments could give rise to penalties.
Such mechanisms have the advantage of being less binding than a regulatory obligation by leaving some latitude on the actions to be carried out and, to a certain extent, on the deadline for completion. However, they would make it possible to transform all the consumers into actors more and more concerned.
They would also help increase global energy efficiency more quickly: we need it so much!
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