31 May 2017- RenoWatt wins the "Best Energy Project 2017" award by providing a targeted response to climate change issues and to the specific needs of participating public entities.
It is the first time a Belgian energy project wins an award from the European Commission.
RenoWatt, a project which carries out energy retrofit of public buildings in the Liège province, is an initiative of GRE-Liège (Group for the Economic Redeployment of Liège) launched in November 2014 with the support of the European Energy Efficiency Fund (EEEF), CITYnvest (Horizon 2020) and the Walloon Minister for Economic Affairs.
In this economic, environmental and energy landscape, in line with the European 20/20/20 targets (decrease in energy consumption, decrease in greenhouse gases emissions and development of renewable energy), the energy retrofit of public buildings in the Liège province no longer represents a choice or a desire, but rather a necessity and an emergency. The potential for investment in energy retrofit in the Liège province is estimated at 10 billion euros. This will create several thousands of jobs. In the fight against climate change, energy retrofit therefore offers a financial opportunity to meet increasingly demanding European objectives while promoting local employment. Furthermore, the energy transition gives regions more energy independence, bearing in mind that 93% of the energy in Wallonia is currently imported.
However, public authorities are facing the complexity of energy retrofit, public procurements and the search for funding. In view of these hurdles which could slow down or even paralyse their renovation programmes, GRE-Liège launched RenoWatt, a one-stop-shop providing technical, legal and financial expertise to participating public entities, seeking innovative funding options while promoting local businesses and labour. RenoWatt, a non-partisan and non-profit organization, combines a perfect knowledge of public sector-specific constraints with an expertise in energy matters. Initially, ten public entities took part in this initiative before they were joined by new municipalities. The Huy Regional Hospital then joined RenoWatt, launching the first Energy Performance Contract for a hospital in Wallonia.
RenoWatt operates around three key principles
The implementation of Energy Performance Contracts (EPC)
Energy Performance Contracts guarantee the energy performance of a building and consequently a lower energy consumption, by combining retrofitting works and performance maintenance over the long term.
The pooling of buildings
The specificity of the RenoWatt Energy Performance Contracts lies in the pooling of buildings coming from various public entities in order to offer large and attractive markets to energy service companies, to diversify risk and to benefit from economies of scale.
Participation in the public procurement agency
RenoWatt launches the procurements on behalf of public authorities, taking care of the legal procedure, the drafting of the specifications and technical causes, the negotiations and the selection of the service provider.
In 30 months of intensive work, the RenoWatt team, working closely with the relevant departments in the participating entities, has succeeded in implementing 5 Energy Performance Contracts amounting to nearly 60 million euros.
From raising awareness on energy retrofit with public entities to having them adopt an innovative model, from identifying the most energy-consuming buildings to designing socially responsible specifications and finally negotiating with service providers, this European award recognizes the excellence of a complex project, carried out under tight deadlines with the support of the movers and shakers of the Liège region.
Much attention has been paid to the socially responsible aspect of these procurements (promotion of local employment, training clause, fight against social dumping, restrictions on sub-contracting). This social focus of the EPCs launched by RenoWatt is the fruit of in-depth reflection with the unions, the FOREM (Walloon employment and professional training service), the Federation of Construction, ...
A few figures on RenoWatt
Awarding of four Energy Performance Contracts amounting to 51.9 million euros. Four pools of buildings from cities, municipalities and from the Liège Province were set up according to their specificities: Schools (2 batches), Swimming Pools, Sports Halls and Miscellaneous Buildings (administrative or cultural centers...);
Awarding of an Energy Performance Contract amounting to 8 million euros for the CHRH (Huy Regional Hospital).
64 sites representing 134 buildings will be renovated thanks to RenoWatt for the Liège Province, the cities of Liège, Seraing, Herstal, Verviers and the municipalities of Oupeye, Bassenge and Trois-Ponts;
RenoWatt has enabled to cut energy consumption by 34%, which means 34 million euros with a 21-year return on investment (42.5 million with CHRH). A large part of the investment in the works phase is dedicated to the insulation of buildings, which respects the wish of participating entities.
Based on the model developped by RenoWatt and with the support of Wallonia, several public partners (IDEA, IDETA, IGRETEC, SPI - currently being confirmed) and GRE-Liège have decided to join their forces in order to launch "RenoWatt +", a Walloon agency dedicated to energy retrofit. More than 30 municipalities have already announced their will to join this energy transition movement. A new European subsidy was requested in order to assist in the implementation of this new large-scale project.
In the framework of the European project CITYnvest (Horizon 2020), RenoWatt already serves as an example for other European projects. The one-stop-shop soon to be launched in Rhodope, Bulgaria, is based on the RenoWatt model.