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Participation of SMEs in integrated delivery projects for social housing energy efficiency renovation

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One of the goals and expectations for EBC participation in the Shelter project was precisely to propose and find new ways to improve SMEs participation in the energy retrofitting of social housing. For a clear understanding of this discussion and the examples attached to it, it is important to understand that we are speaking about improving direct SMEs participation and not through subcontracting of general contractors. Indeed, currently, the subcontracting model is extensively used and for all sorts of contracts – private or public – and most of the time at the detriment of SMEs’ independence and possibility to bring added value. The first point to tackle is the size of the SMEs, which has a direct impact on their human resources capabilities, on their financial dimension and on the access to insurance. This is why the most direct and intuitive solution is to work together. One of the usual instruments for that is the momentary grouping of enterprises. However, this falls short of solving some of the most pressing issues and obstacles to participation of SMEs. Indeed, minimum turnover requirements, obligatory certifications and past relevant experiences are usually the ones belonging to one of the enterprises composing the grouping and never a sum of the different enterprises. From the need to solve this issue, has come the idea and the practice of CONSORTIA, a stable structure regrouping enterprises under a new legal entity with a juridical personality, which can reach that critical mass by integrating the characteristics of its components. This experience is very relevant in Italy, where the average construction enterprise is sensibly smaller than in other European countries and where the process has been encouraged and accompanied by strong crafts and trades associations at local and national level. Within the interesting Italian case, consortia are spread throughout the whole national territory and with different specialisation and member types. The companies integrating a consortium remain independent of choosing when to work within it and are even free to bid for the same tender to which the consortium is also bidding. BEST PRACTICE EXAMPLE A very relevant example is UNIFICA, a cooperative consortium with its head office in Bologna,(Italy) and several other operational offices in other cities and regions of the country. This structure (recently created by the merge of three existing consortia) is composed of 1,250 crafts and small and medium enterprises of several trades of construction and road building located throughout the whole territory of Italy, giving it a great geographic outreach. This structure is able to tender for very large scale public contracts and is even engaged in global contracts, long term facility management and renovation of big social housing areas. The annual turnover of CIPEA (the largest of the three consortia merged into UNIFICA) was several million euros, with projects going from global service to road construction and from social housing to project financing. For additional info on CIPEA, please go to www.cipea.com. More information on this case and on other cooperative models in construction in the European Union, please consult a Commission study performed in 2009 by the Manchester Business School. It is accessible at: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/construction/files/compet/volunta...

Participation of SMEs in integrated delivery projects for social housing energy efficiency renovation