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In this month’s BUILD UP interview Emmanuelle Causse - Head of Public Affairs at the International Union of Property Owners (UIPI) - discusses how UIPI is addressing energy efficiency among property owners.


UIPI is a pan-European not-for-profit association comprising 30 organisations from 28 countries - representing more than 5 million property owners and some 25 million dwellings. Founded in 1923, UIPI aims to protect and promote the interests, needs and concerns of private property owners at national, European and international levels.


The property owners represented by UIPI range from individual homeowners and co-owners to landlords with both small and large scale property portfolios in the private, rented and commercial sectors.


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What are the most important factors to drive renovation for UIPI members?

Strong building energy efficiency legislation exists across Europe, but many member states still need to work on implementation solutions. UIPI believes in incentives, awareness raising and training rather than coercive measures.

Access to finance is a key issue. This is particularly pertinent for small-scale projects and privately owned properties where cash flow and funding opportunities are scarce. Training and raising awareness among property owners is vital. By training property owners on the benefits, solutions and technologies available and by enabling them to access suitable finance they will be better equipped to make informed decisions, and more likely to overcome their lack of trust in refurbishment professionals!

Informed property owners are consumers that can contribute to finding the most suitable energy solutions within their budget. To this end, UIPI and its member associations advise property owners to draft a business plan prior to planning any major improvement measures to calculate possible returns on investment, payback periods, and identify financing options.


What are the barriers to renovation for property owners?

There is a huge appetite amongst UIPI’s membership to learn about refurbishment, suitable technologies for different building types, where and how to access funding and how to estimate returns on investment.  However, before refurbishment becomes more common among property owners there are a number of barriers that need to be addressed - planning and building permits, condominium law and rental legislation - which have been widely commented on but not sufficiently tackled. Rental legislation can make it difficult for third parties, such as ESCOs, to enter the contractual relationship.


What projects has UIPI been involved in around energy efficiency in buildings?

UIPI was a consortium partner of the Intelligent Energy Europe TRAINREBUILD project, supporting training activities for individual property owners to equip them with the knowledge to assess efficiency solutions and access funding opportunities. Currently, UIPI is participating in the iNSPiRe research project, a four year European Commission FP7 funded project that aims to tackle the problem of high-energy consumption by producing cost-effective solutions for residential and office buildings.


How is the drive for deep renovation affecting UIPI members?

At European level, the focus is quickly moving beyond renovation to deep renovation. Deep renovation is far from the reality of any incentives being offered across member states. Targets need to be ambitious but realistic.

Promoting unrealistic measures might have the adverse effect of pushing buildings into vacancy or disrepair. Instead of pushing for deep renovation, UIPI advocates scaled renovation plans that follow a logic path in terms of technologies and energy savings.


What opportunities currently exist for property owners?

For property owners, the biggest opportunity is the upcoming round of European Structural funds. The extension of funding to private sector efficiency projects heralds innovation. Under the coming funding period there is an obligatory minimum spend on energy efficiency. However, the responsibility of administering this funding and designing Operational Programmes lies with individual member state Managing Authorities. Member states and local authorities might have other sustainability priorities but it would be a missed opportunity if large-scale private building energy efficiency projects were not a core focus from the beginning of the structural funds programming period.