Barriers & Opportunities: Experts Explore Expansion of Energy Efficiency and EPC in Europe
Leading building efficiency experts from the European Union discussed key issues around increasing the scale of energy efficiency procurement and energy performance contracting (EPC) for public buildings during an April 12 workshop and panel discussion in Brussels. The Institute for Building Efficiency (IBE) sponsored the event, organized around EU Sustainable Energy Week and transmitted live via webinar.
IBE Europe Program Manager Armin Mayer summarized the IBE’s Energy Efficiency Indicator survey, which identified public-sector barriers to efficiency and EPC. The survey, involving 90 public-sector representatives from the UK, Germany and France, revealed generally positive experiences with EPC, and a number of respondents reported no barriers to the practice in their organizations.
However, the survey also found that the scale of EPC investment is limited because public-sector managers continue to look at their annual budget as the main source of funds energy efficiency improvements. Other factors holding back EPC investment include lack of staff expertise, unfamiliarity and uncertainty about the EPC model, and lack of technical support, especially for smaller municipalities. In addition, regulatory changes are often required to help public-sector EPC markets grow.
Panelists offered valuable insights and feedback on the survey during prepared remarks and a question-and-answer discussion.
• John Cowan, board chairman of the Efficiency Valuation Organization (EVO), stressed the need to integrate sustainability thinking more strongly within organizations. “Retrofitting the organization is more difficult than retrofitting the building”, said Cowan, whose organization developed the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocols (IPMVP).
• Christoph Kettel, head of the Real Estate Appraisal and Consulting Division at Eurohypo, a part of the Commerzbank Group, noted that while good practice precedents have emerged through instruments such as green leases, more clarity is needed about the precise economic value of sustainability in buildings. Bankers and appraisers may face uncertainties – notably about return on investment – when trying to compare the advantages of more efficient green buildings with traditional buildings that meet minimum levels of environmental compliance.
• Diane Campion, head of Environmental Management for the Scottish Government Estate, outlined efforts under her supervision to manage the efficiency and environmental impact of a range of government buildings and facilities. She noted that her government had not yet procured an EPC because of uncertainties about the model and the maturity of available service offerings. Her comments reflected common concerns among municipalities and regions across Europe: lack of trust in the quality of energy efficiency services, and concerns about risk related to EPC procurement.
Mayer observed, “The IBE is grateful to the panelists for taking part in the workshop and for sharing insights that will be valuable as we explore ways to advance energy efficiency and EPC in Europe.”
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