A renovation wave for municipal buildings

Pentahelix project partner IGEMO and the Flemish Energy Company (VEB) have recently set out to increase the renovation speed of municipal buildings for several communities in the Mechelen region in Belgium, by means of an Intermunicipal Maintenance and Energy Performance contract.
Although a mouth full, the principle is surprisingly simple: a group of municipalities pool their buildings needing retrofitting in one contract, which will be assigned to one partner. This partner, a so-called ESCO or Energy Service Company, offers a very competitive price because of the sheer scale of buildings and ensures a guaranteed energy saving for the municipalities. They in turn repay the investment over a period of 10 to 15 years through their reduced energy bill. Afterwards, they are left with a modernised building stock and very low energy costs.

120 buildings in one contract

IGEMO and VEB are facilitating this process, gathering the necessary information on potential buildings and drafting the public tender. In total, 7 municipalities are interested in joining one big intermunicipal contract, comprising 120 buildings such as town halls, swimming pools and other sports centers, community and cultural centers, fire departments, etc. For smaller municipalities, the cost of setting up such a tender would outweigh the potential gains, by joining forces however, they share overhead costs and are guaranteed a much more competitive price.
The VEB is a Flemish public company specialised in these types of contracts, which are promoted by the European Commission all over Europe and are also supported by the ELENA-fund. Contracts comprising more than 100 buildings are however rare. IGEMO and VEB hope to close the deal before the end of 2020, after which actual retrofitting could already start as soon as 2021. By 2022, the envisaged energy saving (typically around 30%) should be attained. By also including maintenance in the contract, ESCO’s can optimize the buildings’ energy performance year after year, receiving greater awards if the percentage exceeds the agreed savings.
Besides financial reasons, IGEMO, VEB and the involved municipalities in the Mechelen region are driven by a desire of working more climate friendly and meeting the targets of their respective climate action plans. By 2030, the 7 municipalities have all agreed to lower their emissions by at least 40% by signing the Covenant of Mayors 2030. By retrofitting their own buildings straight at the beginning of this crucial decade, they hope to set a inspiring example for citizens. As in many other European countries, Belgium faces the challenge of increasing the renovation speed of private dwellings and tertiary buildings from 1% now to a least 3% per year by 2030. In 2050, all buildings should reach an A-level energy performance, using less energy than 100 kWH per m² per year.

More info on Energy Performance Contracting can be found here:

In the picture above: Lier’s Municipal Academy for Music, Word and Dance is one of the buildings that will probably be renovated through the contract.