Local Action Plan for Energy Management (P.L.A.G.E.)
A key premise of the Brussels model is that the first to adopt proper energy efficiency measures and practices should be the authorities. Such a “lead by example” approach is of particular importance in Brussels, where the share of public purchasing is significant. 15% of the Belgian GDP is allotted to public purchasing, and the Brussels-Capital Region alone generates 20% of the GDP. Thus, without a de facto switch to passive building in the public sector, the overall success of the low energy construction legislation would remain highly questionable.
The Local Action Plans for Energy Management (P.L.A.G.E.) illustrate how authorities lead by example. P.L.A.G.E. programs are specifically targeted to public and private buildings with very high energy consumption that will not be renovated soon. The main underlying premise is that, according to recent research, the energy performance of certain buildings can be improved by 20-30% even without major investment. Thus, P.L.A.G.E. programs have the following objectives:
- To provide information on energy efficiency;
- To organize internal management around energy-efficient maintenance of facilities;
- To identify the potential energy savings and the priority actions, in particular through building audits;
- To raise awareness amongst occupants of how to behave;
- To involve energy efficiency in investment choices (new construction and renovation, refurbishment of facilities);
- To ensure transparency of information through the publication and promotion of a regular summary of results.
Since 2006, P.L.A.G.E. has funded energy reduction measures and training of building administrators in the passive standard. The Region covers 50 to 100% of the expenses incurred for up to 3 years. All P.L.A.G.E. applications are reviewed by a jury, consisting of:
- 1 representative of Brussels - Environment;
- 1 representative of the Minister of Energy;
- 1 representative of the Secretary of state for housing;
- 1 representative of the Brussels Regional Housing Authority (SLRB) (for social housing project applications only);
- 1 external expert.
P.L.A.G.E. projects follow four phases of execution, which may be carried out simultaneously:
- Create an energy consumption cadastre of the building complex. Thus, it is possible to identify the more problematic buildings, which clarifies the priorities for action.
- Establish a concrete action plan for those buildings that are considered top priority (usually because they are large energy consumers with an equally large potential to save energy).
- Carry out the action plan above.
- Follow up with the regional authorities by reporting on progress in project implementation.
Energy consumption is closely monitored during project implementation. In addition, a Responsable Energie (energy consultant) is available to help with project implementation. It is the responsibility of the energy consultant to provide:
- Methodological support;
- Assistance in putting together the energy cadastre;
- Help in setting up an energy accounting system;
- Assistance to staff members with energy audits;
- Facilitation of best practice exchanges;
- Assistance to managers on how to use the tools provided by Brussels Environment.
Thus far, 15 municipalities, 5 hospitals, 2 collective housing organizations, and the schools of the mandatory education system have benefitted from P.L.A.G.E. programs. The first round of P.L.A.G.E. projects was launched in 2006. In 2006-2009, seven municipalities participated: Anderlecht, Berchem-Ste-Agathe, Ixelles, Molenbeek-St-Jean, Schaerbeek, St-Gilles, and Watermael-Boisfort. The municipalities received a subsidy ranging between € 36.000 and € 130.000 (depending on the particularities of each application), divided amongst a total of 70 buildings. The overall results from these seven municipalities in 2005-2009 are:
- 15,82% less gas consumption;
- 4.3% less electricity consumption;
- € 1.326.000 saved;
- 2.574 tons of CO2 emissions avoided.
In 2007, five hospitals, representing a building complex of 483.000 m2, also received P.L.A.G.E. funds. Although project implementation was uneven across the board, the results were promising. The hospitals managed to lower electricity consumption by 0.6%, gas consumption by 14.3%, and to avoid 4.000 tons of CO2 emissions. These results are equivalent to 4.400 Brussels homes reducing their total consumption by 20% over three years.
In 2008, collective housing buildings also received P.L.A.G.E. funds through the Public Social Action Centre (Centres Publics d'Action Sociale, or CPAS).
Given the potential for energy savings in schools, in 2009 the Region decided to disburse the funding needed for the implementation of P.L.A.G.E. projects in compulsory education establishments. The school projects are expected to run for a period 4 years. All school systems are represented, and could employ one or more energy consultants to help with project implementation. A limited but representative number of schools were initially selected. Provided these pilot projects go well, the initiative will be expanded. The goal is that, in time, all compulsory education schools in the region (around 600 establishments, spread over 800 sites) will also become pioneers in energy savings.
In 2011, a new P.L.A.G.E. call for proposals targeting social housing was launched. The campaign focuses on the 33 Public Service Housing Associations (SISP) of the Brussels-Capital Region. Six full-time energy consultants will work with the selected SISPs, introducing a medium-term approach to active participation in energy savings in the social housing sector.
To provide additional assistance, Brussels Environment has created a P.L.A.G.E. manual for building managers, as well as another one for energy consultants. Both manuals are accessible through the Brussels environment website.