Investments in energy efficiency need to happen locally, experts say at the CITYnvest workshop in Budapest

On the 12th of May, local authorities and stakeholders in the energy services sector came together in Budapest to discuss financing solutions for renovating the building stock in Hungary. The goal of the CITYnvest workshop was to increase capacities of the towns and regions to launch renovation programmes and attract adequate financing.

Prioritizing energy efficiency often promoted by EU policy makers, but at the end of the day investments in energy efficiency need to happen locally. As Dan Staniaszek from the Buildings Performance Institute of Europe addressed the participants: “You are the ones that mobilise local stakeholders, you engage with the building owners and citizens, and all of you are potential real project champions!

Building owners need guarantees on safety, health and affordability”, said Nicholas Stancioff from the Sunshine project. Since many of the residential buildings in Hungary are multi-family blocks, with low or no energy performance standards, the similarity to the buildings tackled in the Sunshine project is evident. Thus the experts suggested to replicate elements of this model in the Hungarian context. However, many questions on the ESCO model were raised: How do we know the cost savings doesn’t disappear in the ESCOs’ pockets? Why should we engage with models like Energy Performance Contracting, rather than waiting for grant support?

Nevertheless, most of the participants agreed: energy efficiency projects that are profitable don’t need to wait, as we are wasting money every day by not acting immediately. The benefits of energy efficiency should also be better valued, and by consequence, better monetized to build solid business plans.

After the debates in Budapest, it became clear that the state level can help to set an operating framework with clear laws and long-term directions, which would allow local and regional authorities act effectively on the energy efficiency. The conference made clear the local authorities actually implement projects and push the other levels of governance to make the legislative framework more supportive. The numerous local authorities present in the conference confirmed the basic principle of CITYnvest: local authorities are the catalyzers that walk the talk and implement concrete energy efficiency projects.

Presentations and pictures from the event are available on the page of the event.