Beersel, Halle and St-Pieters-Leeuw explore financing of energy efficiency measures in public buildings

On 9th January, 40-odd technicians, environmental officers, aldermen and mayors from the Belgian municipalities of Beersel, Halle and St-Pieters-Leeuw convened for the first intermunicipal ‘jam session’ on Energy Performance Contracting. The three municipalities are part of the province of Flemish Brabant, a partner in the BEAST Project (‘Beyond Energy Action Strategies).

 

Energy Performance Contracting

Many municipalities in Belgium own old buildings and renovation is slow. Moreover, the municipalities lack the financial means that would allow them to develop a long term strategy to make their buildings more sustainable and energy efficient. Renovation is often postponed.
Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) is an alternative financing mechanism that can solve these problems. In Belgium, EPC still has to gain a foothold. The Province of Flemish Brabant, the region that surrounds the Belgian capital Brussels, developed an EPC coaching scheme to help municipalities and community facilities to launch an EPC project.

EPC is a service that is offered by Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) to make existing buildings more energy efficient. The ESCO warrants that real savings will be made and that these savings will cover the investments.


Jam session

The jam session was part of the EPC coaching scheme. The aim was to bring together civil servants, policy makers and EPC specialists in order to discuss technical, juridical and financial implications of EPC contracts. After a plenary introduction, participants were directed to three workshops where they could ask questions and share experiences on common barriers that hinder EPC contracts. The workshops dealt with financial and juridical aspects, technical and operational issues and energy, environment, comfort and security issues. In each of the workshops, experts addressed questions and concerns.

All participants appreciated the opportunity to discuss issues in peer groups. This enabled them to share concerns with colleagues from other municipalities, whereas the presence of experts guaranteed well substantiated answers to many questions.

The jam session demonstrated that the implementation of   Energy Performance Contracting still poses an important range of questions. However, the three participating municipalities are now seriously considering to sign EPC-contracts. Meanwhile, three other municipalities in Flemish Brabant - Bertem, Oud-Heverlee and Londerzeel - have been invited for a second jam session. Eventually, the BEAST project will enable coaching of a total of 15 municipalities in Flemish Brabant.