School buildings and offices are a significant source of energy consumption: in The Netherlands, school buildings are on average 35 years old – and large-scale renovation is often due. Energy-efficient or near-zero energy schools contribute to lowering energy costs, greenhouse gas emissions and improving the indoor climate for schools. While the case for implementing EE measures in school buildings is clear, some barriers inhibit the widespread adoption by school boards.
First of all, there is a strong split incentive resulting from complex ownership and financing structures of school buildings. Currently, accommodating institutes for primary education is the responsibility of a municipality. These buildings are managed and exploited by school boards, leading to dispersed financial rewards: while the municipality is responsible for the investments, the school board will benefit from lower energy costs. A second barrier is the limited level of awareness and lack of knowledge on EE measures amongst school boards. The quality of education is a top priority; aside from this, unfamiliarity, limited resources and little to no access to information about building performance strongly contribute to this lack of knowledge.
These challenges demand solutions. An example of a project in which these issues are addressed is the ‘Bijna-energieneutrale scholen’ (near-zero energy schools) project in the City of Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Here, the Green Buildinvest Initiative (GBI) will support school board and municipality in coming to a joint solution. In order to facilitate dialogue between school boards and municipality and foster trust and reliability with regard to energy efficient measures, GBI will function as an independent third-party facilitator of the dialogue with the ultimate aim to establish a template used for the renovation of school buildings to near-zero energy buildings.
In addition, GBI will investigate different financial options in order to acquire the investment needed to finance the schools’ own financial contribution to energy efficient renovations. For this share, financing is needed that is usually deemed ‘high risk’ by banks, who may require guarantees from the municipality.