Energy renovation obligations for companies under the tertiary sector decree

Released in October 2019, the tertiary decree came to specify the applications of the ELAN law, presented in 2018. The regulation concerns professionals who own and rent buildings for tertiary use. So what are their obligations? How do these obligations encourage them to plan for energy retrofits?

The application of the ELAN Law for companies in the tertiary sector

Passed in 2018, the ELAN Law impacts all real estate law. One part of the law concerns the energy transition and environmental quality of tertiary sector buildings. And indeed: the tertiary sector is the one most widely affected by the renovation obligations. Regular monitoring of overall energy consumption, improvement of indoor air quality, performing insulation work, etc. These obligations are numerous, but aim at a common goal of energy transition, aiming at reducing energy consumption by :

40% by 2030
50% by 2040
60% by 2050

This progressive objective is based on the energy consumption of companies for the year 2010, chosen as the reference year.


Tertiary buildings and energy renovation under the ELAN law

The text of the ELAN Law indicates that tertiary sector companies will have to implement “actions to reduce final energy consumption”. It specifies that this concerns “buildings, parts of buildings or sets of buildings for tertiary use”. Here are the buildings concerned:

  • professional offices ;
  • shops
  • hotels and restaurants
  • warehouses;
  • buildings for health and educational activities.

With a surface equal to or greater than 1000 m2.

The obligations set by the tertiary decree

The tertiary sector decree, published the following year, set the obligations of companies in terms of energy renovation.


The declaration of energy data

This obligation comes into effect at the beginning of 2021. The companies concerned by the tertiary decree will have to declare all the data related to their energy consumption. How does it work? The declaration is done completely online, via the platform OPERAT (Observatory of Energy Performance, Renovation and Actions of the Tertiary), supervised by ADEME.

This platform allows authorities to collect and monitor the evolution of energy transition approaches as well as the energy performance of tertiary companies. The following information is then sent to the companies that have filled in their data:

possible modulations, depending on the volume of activity of the company;
the annual final energy consumption, in absolute value;
the volume of greenhouse gas emissions.

Subsequently, an annual digital certificate is sent to companies that have declared their data on the OPERAT platform.

Companies that refuse to comply with this obligation can be fined up to 7500 € and registered on an official register, certifying that the company does not meet the legal obligations to improve its energy performance.

How to collect data on end-use energy consumption?


To be effective, the collection of data on the energy consumption of your buildings must be automated. In addition to energy retrofits that may be necessary, it is advisable to install intelligent HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) equipment.

These devices can be accompanied by control systems or active management of energy consumption in buildings. This can be a very attractive investment, as it can perform energy savings of up to 25% very quickly, in addition to or while waiting for energy renovation work.

Final energy consumption: a new formulation of objectives for recent buildings

The objective is clear: actions implemented by service sector companies (work or installations) should reduce their energy consumption by 50% by 2050. This is an ambitious program, framed by energy consumption reduction targets and a willingness on the part of the State to support these companies.

However, this method of calculating energy savings is based on the reference year 2010. It is therefore not adapted to recent buildings, generally much less energy intensive. For this, the “method” order has come to complete the terms of the decree tertiary. It defines the objectives in absolute value and no longer in percentage. Companies can then set themselves a real final energy consumption to implement their action plan.

Modulations provided for by the tertiary sector decree

Some tertiary buildings are exceptions and do not fall within the framework of the tertiary decree. These are

  • buildings for which the building permit has been formulated on a precarious basis;
  • buildings constructed for operational activities such as defense or internal security operations;
  • places of worship.

Among the buildings actually concerned by the tertiary decree, some may be subject to modulations of objectives. These modulations are accepted in the case where all the actions to reduce energy consumption can :

  • affect the structure of the building;
  • deteriorate the aesthetics of the building.

How do you know if your buildings fall within the scope of these modulations? You will have to hire a professional to create a technical file justifying your exemption from the obligations of the tertiary decree. The prefecture will then be in charge of studying your arguments.

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