More than 40 one-stop shop developers and their partners from France, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Italy and other EU countries met last week in Brussels. They took a deep dive into the strategies and business models of six French one-stop shops for home energy renovation. The key take-away? A ‘copy-paste’ of one model to all territories does not work.

The French one-stop shops are regional public or semi-public organisations offering integrated advisory, technical and financial solutions to homeowners who want to renovate and, at the same time, improve energy performance of their homes. These turnkey offers make deep energy retrofits simpler and accessible to all homeowners, reducing their energy bills in average by 50%. To date, French providers have carried out global renovations of more than 10,770 dwellings, representing an investment of €132 million, and have issued 1,300 loans for a total amount of €40 million. They have become market leaders for deep energy retrofits.

A successful model that is worth replicating throughout Europe. But the devil is in the details. What are the profiles and objectives of the territories that decided to open a one-stop shop? What support one-stop shops receive from governments and private partners? What are the legal and economic models they opted for? How are they organised internally? What processes and work flows they follow?

Gabriel Quentin, Technical Manager at Oktave (Grand-Est Region, France), Pierre Levi, Director for energy transition at Bordeaux Métropole Energie (France) and Marie Pourchot (Energies Demain) unveiled all their secrets to the participants of the workshop organised on 20 June 2023 in Brussels in the framework of the European project ORFEE.

Gabriel Quentin, Technical Manager at Oktave (Grand-Est Region) pointed out that his organisation has been exponentially growing since its creation in 2018: ”Oktave aims to build a sustainable business model for renovations in line with the low-energy building standard in the Grand Est Region. We have achieved the objective of 200 renovations per year, and now the Region has set a new goal of 500 renovations per year. We will need to double the staff during the next 4 years. I was the first employee five years ago, we are 45 today, and if we want to reach our objective, we will have to grow to 80 people fairly quickly.”

A proof that the service is attractive. According to Gabriel, the homeowners need a physical contact with an advisor whom they can trust and who can help them manage their anxiety, because this is a feeling that the ambitious renovation projects seem to provoke. He believes in a tailor-made approach to each project and each homeowner: “Renovation at a massive-scale with standardised and on-line only support would not work”. The Region decided to encourage Oktave’s growth and to keep providing the local renovation service to its citizens.

Pierre Levi, Director of Energy Transition at Bordeaux Métropole Énergies emphasised the importance of collaboration with existing actors: “My advice to future companies wishing to develop integrated energy renovation services is to really integrate the eco-systems already in place by making an inventory of the skills available in their areas and also of any gaps in the system. The idea is not to reinvent the wheel, but to fill a gap. The proposed range of services needs to be supported by all the players in the area.”

The key message from these practitioners is that a copy-paste of one model to all territories does not work. Due to different contexts (historical, geographical, social), different objectives, different existing actors and services, different political support and risk taking, none of the existing six French one-stop shops has exactly the same legal, economic or operational model as its peers.

How could these experiences then be replicated in other territories, even beyond the French borders?  What is happening elsewhere in Europe? The new European LIFE project EU Peers, starting in September 2023, and in which Energy Cities and Energies Demain are involved as partners, will give answers to these questions. It will build a European community of practice for one-stop shop practitioners who want to support each other in their adventure!

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