Flemish towns join push to make public buildings carbon neutral


Project will help councils towards 2050 target for carbon neutral real estate

Energy futures

Thirty-five local authorities in Flanders have signed up to an initiative that aims to make public buildings carbon neutral by 2050. Among the towns keen to get involved are Nieuwpoort, Ypres (pictured), Machelen and Sint-Truiden. More are expected to join soon.

The problem that all local authorities face is that their buildings are not always put to the most efficient use. Sometimes maintenance runs behind, and then energy bills start to rise and the social and financial returns fall. To say nothing of the pressure to meet ever higher standards of energy efficiency.

The new initiative, called Sure2050, aims to help local authorities address these issues with advice on how to improve the management and use of public buildings. They will also get support for energy renovation projects, from technical advice to help preparing bids for funding. The result should be a comprehensive real estate strategy that is fit for the future.

The three-year project is funded to the tune of €1.2 million by Horizon2020, the European Union's programme for research, development and innovation. “Sure2050 will build capacities in public authorities to enable them to develop a long-term real estate vision and an integrated renovation strategy," explained Kamila Paquel of the EU's Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, at a kick-off meeting in Brussels this week.

The project is coordinated by the Vlaams EnergieBedrijf, with technical expertise supplied by organisations such as DuboLimburg,  KampC, Factor4, Fluvius, and Het Facilitair Bedrijf. The provinces of Flemish Brabant, West Flanders, East Flanders and Limburg are also on board.

The level of interest from local authorities has both pleased and surprised the organisers. "This demonstrates the need for a long-term vision across the various levels of government, and practical support," said coordinator Tina Van Lierde.

Photo: Getty Images