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Finding solutions for boosting the energy retrofitting of buildings and districts in the cities of Valladolid and Málaga (Spain)

Deep energy retrofitting of districts is far from being a reality in many European cities despite the benefits for residents, the business opportunities for companies and the environmental improvements for municipalities. Non-technological barriers can restrain this type of city renovation. 

A workshop with different stakeholders from the construction sector, energy companies, representatives of municipalities and residents was organized in Torrelago (Spain) on 24th September 2015 to debate these issues. The two parallel roundtables involving the Cluster Cities of Valladolid and Málaga focussed on the evaluation of the replication potential of the CITyFiED project results.

Interesting conclusions emerged from this workshop. All participants agreed that access to financing is the main obstacle to start the refurbishment of buildings and districts. One hand, residents will be motivated to retrofit their dwellings only if they have to pay lower costs even in front of unpleasant thermal discomfort. Subsidies and suitable business models can convince them to implement energy efficient solutions. In the latter case a long and convincing awareness campaign is absolutely needed to inform about upcoming renovation activities and financing schemes. Therefore, in most cases, companies are the only option to make retrofitting become a reality. However, other barriers are to be considered, for example the unwillingness of banks to provide loans to companies to face the high initial upfront costs. Not even the residents can opt for this financial support due to the normative restrictions on property. It is also required that district retrofitting activities are approved by the whole community of owners, who, in addition, should provide the dwelling as guarantee, which it is impossible to reach. It also has to be emphasized that in all interventions some oppositions from residents are to be expected, even in the most favourable scenario. This is something intrinsic to the refurbishment procedure.

Finally, the lack of involvement of the public sector is an additional barrier. A public player in charge of arranging different financial instruments could help to the development of nearly zero energy districts.

September 28th, 2015