In March, 2016, the European Builders Confederation (EBC) and iNSPiRe partner organisation, the International Union of Property Owners (UIPI) co-organised a workshop to examine how the Juncker Plan could be used to boost private investment in “small scale” energy efficiency renovation.

The plan, has created a new European Fund, of guaranteed additional public money of €315billion over the next three years, to be spent on Strategic Investments. The plan has also established a new pipeline and assistance programme designed to channel the money to where it is most needed. It also outlines a roadmap for this investment that removes regulatory bottlenecks.

The UIPI meeting was called to address how this money could be accessed to kick-start a renovation boom in Europe. With projects like iNSPiRe dfelivering cost-effective and highly efficient energy and cost-saving solutions to the market, any help for the industry to use these solutions is a welcome boost for the renovation market.

The meeting saw, for the first time, European associations of construction SMEs and private property owners joining forces to address the key question of how to finance energy efficiency retrofitting in the largest and most fragmented section of the European building stock: the privately owned residential sector. 75 per cent of the square meters composing the European building stock are in residential buildings. SMEs carry out 70 per cent of their activities in the residential sector. This means that small and medium companies, along with property owners, are the key actors for upscaling energy efficiency in homes.

This seminar is the first one of a series of events. It explored the triggering potential of the European Fund for Strategic Investments to increase renovation in the private housing stock. It brought together more than 140 participants, representing the stakeholders having an interest in energy efficiency in the building sector.

Patrick Liébus, President of the European Builders Confederation EBC, said: “Any new way to finance energy retrofitting of buildings is welcome. The Juncker Plan is not the silver bullet, but the seminar demonstrated a possible way forward to finance energy efficiency. The Picardie Pass Renovation project shows an approach to using the Investment Plan, which is good for both owners and SMEs. Through the aggregation of companies, it boosts local businesses and promotes the upskilling of jobs.” The project provides homeowners in the Picardie region of France with funding for renovation work designed to lower their energy use and costs.

Stratos Paradias, President of the International Union of Property Owners UIPI, said: “We see the Juncker Plan as a promising instrument to support retrofitting in the private housing stock. Funding can be used to aggregate renovation projects and answer certain needs. Yet, if we really want to trigger investment decisions and scale up renovation in the private residential sector, the challenge is to complement this type of lending mechanism with the right mix of incentives tailored for individual homeowners and landlords.”

Maria Spyraki, Member of the European Parliament, said “The European Fund for Strategic Investments was created to address market failure but it should avoid overlapping with other mechanisms. It should support private investments. EFSI needs synergies and good and sustainable projects in order to work. Sustainability and complementarity are the keywords.”

Miguel Gil-Tertre, Member of the Cabinet of Vice President Jyrki Katainen, said: “The Investment Plan for Europe offers great opportunities in the areas of energy efficiency and retrofitting. Already the European Fund for Strategic Investments has helped to finance such a project in France: 40,000 homes are now able to access long-term loans to improve insulation and make huge energy savings. We encourage project promoters to set up investment platforms to pool together smaller investments in order to get financing, as well as taking advantage of the new Project Portal which will help projects gain more visibility with investors.”