News Article
April 29, 2011

Building Efficiency Retrofits in Europe: Exploring Barriers and How to Break Them Down

Would your organization sign an energy performance contract again?

Europe is asking its public sector to lead efforts for energy efficiency by transforming its building stock. One tool in that direction is energy performance contracting (EPC), which helps make high-impact deep retrofits feasible. The Institute for Building Efficiency conducted research with public officials in the UK, France and Germany to see how EPC could accelerate efficiency improvements, and to identify barriers to its use.

The research found that officials who had undertaken EPC had overall positive experiences – but that progress on EPC is limited by budget constraints, lack of staffing, and questions about energy service companies (ESCOs) and the EPC model. Meanwhile, a new EU Energy Efficiency Action Plan proposes a binding annual renovation target of 3 percent for public buildings.

The IBE research reaches several conclusions that may suggest ways to drive more EPC and deep retrofits. They include:

  • EPC can help cash-strapped public agencies finance deep retrofits, though more incentives may be needed.

  • Smaller municipalities may need staffing support to undertake comprehensive projects.

  • Legal reform may be necessary, especially in public budgeting and procurement.

  • Some framework support, such as standardization, ESCO accreditation, and information programs, could help efficiency markets scale, so that transaction costs go down while savings increase.

Learn More about EPC barriers in Europe in the detailed Issue Brief, available at the top of the article.

April 2011