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France's project to boost energy efficiency

The hardest parts of doing work to improve energy efficiency is to decide the best way to start, the time-scale and to set a budget... plus getting the paperwork done for éco grants and tax rebates.

Now a new project just started in two regions will see property owners get help from architects and energy experts to advise on insulation and other work and, in effect, reduce complications.

Called Passeport Efficacité Energétique (P2E), it will cost €100 and give owners vital aid in what can be a minefield.

Two years of tests showed that owners recognised that it speeded up projects with two-thirds opting to do further work or research.

Experts appointed by regional Agences Territoriale de la Rén­ovation Energétique (ATRE) carry out a half-day evaluation of what needs to be done and they discuss costs with the owner, draw up a time-frame, within the budget and help with planning the work and the necessary paperwork.

Details are stored on computer in an agreed format, so owners, local authorities, architects and builders can access it.

Until now, government aid for work has been a minefield with regular changes that vary from area to area, so the P2E gives owners someone ‘in the system’ working on their side.

The aim is for homes to be rated BBC (Bâtiment Basse Consommation), meaning with an energy use of just 80kWh/m2/year and could mean rec­ov­ering the €100 outlay many times over with typical energy related rebates of 35% of cost.

Unlike some schemes, where anyone signing up is inundated with calls from double-glazing and insulation sales staff at all hours of the day and night, the association running P2E, The Shift Project, promises not to sell on information.

“The idea is to make it as easy as possible for people to improve energy efficiency,” said Jean-Noël Geist of the association. “So often people hear of incentives to use less energy but when they get round to making enquiries it all gets very complicated.

“We want to change that.”

The scheme is starting a new phase in Angers Loire Métro­pole and in Grand Est region, where local ATREs have signed up. Interested homeowners should contact the ATRE via details on regional websites.

Mr Geist wants other areas to join soon, especially as regions are coming under pressure from the government to meet targets for energy efficiency.

“We aim to be a collaborative organisation so the only way for us to work is if others want to work with us; we cannot impose our will,” he said.

“Our trials have been very successful and we are in two regions with initially encouraging results, so we hope other regions will sign up too.”

Some of France’s biggest companies such as Saint-Gobain, EDF and Schneider Electric have put their money and expertise into the P2E scheme, which should also help convince local authorities to sign up.

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