Initial feedback on the Energy Performance Contract

The Centre and Alsace regions of France pioneered the use of the Energy Performance Contract (EPC) for renovating and operating their schools. As part of a study carried out on behalf of ADEME, the CSTB analyzed both projects over three years, from design to full use. The summary of lessons learned was finalized in November 2014 and provides the first operational feedback on the EPC scheme in France. It is an essential guide for widespread deployment. Its recommendations are also extremely valuable to all project owners and operators seeking sustainable improvement of energy performance in property assets.

The study shows that the EPC provides an advantageous contractual framework for optimizing the energy performance of building stocks. Nevertheless, an appropriate project management culture and organizational structure are required to prepare and monitor the contract, explains Frédéric Bougrain, an economics and social sciences researcher at the CSTB.

Pierre Boisson, CSTB research engineer: It is essential to understand the building thoroughly (checking the reliability of historic energy consumption data) and clearly determine the goals and overall methodology for tracking performance indicators.

Frédéric Bougrain continues: Experience shows that there needs to be a contingency budget for additional work. This gives the project greater flexibility. It’s also important to maintain the operating budgets for buildings covered by EPCs until reduced energy consumption is observed. It’s important to avoid significantly reducing the comfort level of occupants, while raising awareness of their own consumption.

Pierre Boisson: At the beginning of the operational phase, it is useful to plan for a period of adjustment for implementing the building management system. Proper design, acceptance and use of building technical management systems contribute to the success of a project. They provide control over energy management equipment and monitoring of actual performance, which is essential when there are contractually guaranteed outcomes.

Why an EPC?

The Energy Performance Contract is a driver for increasing energy performance by improving the intrinsic qualities of buildings and optimizing existing equipment. Its success depends on coordination of the trades involved at every stage of the contract period. It also offers contracting authorities a method of funding energy efficiency work, backed by the contractual obligation to deliver results.