‘Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance’, wrote Kurt Vonnegut. Is this the reason why building renovation rates are so low? The Building Performance Institute Europe (BPIE) has found that only 3% of our buildings are highly energy efficient – leaving the other 97% in need of energy renovation before 2050.
The revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (published on 19 June 2018) requires Member States to boost the energy renovation of their building stock. An important publication, not to be confused with one of Vonnegut’s metafiction novels.
The underlying assumptions of on-bill financing are that (1) home-owners and tenants have cost-effective energy-saving opportunities (the ‘energy efficiency gap’), (2) consumers do not have the necessary capital, knowledge or inclination to invest (the ‘finance gap’), and (3) a third party can step in with a standardised product and execute the project to a quality standard.
That’s a lot of ifs for developing a successful program in this field. It will require genuine entrepreneurs to come up with business models that work. Since these business models strongly depend on the entrepreneur’s personality, their replicability in other geographies represents a challenge.
‘Tradable Energy Quotas’ or ‘Personal Carbon Credits’ were hotly debated at the turn of the past decade. Since then, they have rarely been in the news. Multi-level governance, recognizing the role of intermediate actors such as businesses, cities and regions, superseded this debate. We don’t need to push action down to the individual level, but all of us should consider to take action in our individual spheres of influence.