The Horizon2020 project SURE2050 aims to make the Flemish public building stock future-proof. They do this with great attention to energetic renovations. They address this to both Flemish municipalities and Flemish governmental organisations for drawing up a strategic real estate plan. The project is complementary to the actions of BE REEL! for the residential sector, from which municipalities can benefit to tackle both their own patrimony and residential homes in their municipality. A perfect reason to learn more about SURE2050. An interview with project coordinator Tina Van Lierde.
Tina Van Lierde, 41 years young, is the project leader of SURE2050. After her studies in applied economics (KULeuven) and international politics (UCL), she started working at Valipac. A company that recycles packaging waste. She then spent most of her career in project management and business analysis at, amongst others, Accenture, IKEA and AB Inbev. Nowadays she has a job that better reflects her interest in nature, sustainability and alternative economic models. She was allowed to work as a project leader energy efficiency at the Flemish Energy Company (VEB), coordinating partner of SURE2050.
What does your job at VEB entail? Besides the SURE2050 project, do you have other projects within the organisation?
“The position of energy efficiency project manager includes multiple tasks. Besides SURE2050, I am also project leader of the PIO wind project (PIO stands for "programma innovatieve overheidsopdrachten", which translates to "innovative public procurement program").
With this project we want to demonstrate through pilot projects how public entities can accelerate the energy transition through their own energy production via small and medium-sized wind turbines. In addition, I also work on specific projects for customers of the VEB and I support a number of internal IT projects that improve our internal operations. ”
What does the Flemish Energy Company's assignment entail?
"The general mission of VEB is to facilitate energy and energy efficiency procurement for the public sector and to support projects that stimulate energy efficiency within the sector. SURE2050 is one those projects. VEB is project coordinator, which means that it is responsible for general project management. In addition, VEB is responsible for a number of specific work packages within the project, such as communication of the project results, evaluation, policy recommendations and a SURE2050 platform to monitor the results. For the latter, we want to join forces with BE REEL!
The strength of the project is mainly the good cooperation between the various consortium partners, who complement each other.
Finally, VEB also organises project coaching for the participants, together with the other consortium partners. The strength of the project is mainly the good cooperation between the various consortium partners, who complement each other. This partnership consists of the Flemish provinces of East Flanders, Flemish Brabant, the provincial support centers for sustainable construction, the province of Limburg, DuboLimburg, the province of West Flanders, Acasus, Kamp C, Fluvius, Het Facilitair Bedrijf, Factor4 and VEB. VVSG also recently joined as a partner .. "
What does the SURE2050 project look like?
“We started in May 2019 and will end in October 2022. We have a budget of 1.2 million euros to finance the training and coaching of participants. Our main goal is, together with the Flemish cities and municipalities and the Flemish government, to make the public heritage more climate neutral and sustainable. We mainly focus on organisational improvements, coaching to elaborate a coherent strategic real estate plan within a long-term vision and, finally, we focus on preparing concrete investment projects and appropriate tenders for energetic renovation of the buildings and renewable energy. "
You also work together with BE REEL !. Can you explain what exactly this cooperation entails and what do you think the advantages are?
“BE REEL! has the same objective as SURE2050, but where we focus on our municipalities' own patrimony, you go for the residential sector. We would like to cooperate for communication to municipalities by, among other things, developing a platform on which municipalities and the Flemish Government can follow up their long-term strategies. After all, we share the same target audience. As a learning platform for our participants, we also use the digital platform of BE REEL, which makes it easier for participants in both projects. The big advantage is that, in addition to a better and more efficient use of European resources, it is very interesting for us to be able to continue the continuity and dissemination of SURE2050 even after our project has ended. For the municipalities, our cooperation means even more additional projects that support them in their energetic challenge.
We also see an opportunity for expansion in the cooperation around the dissemination and evaluation of the project results and recommendations to the policy. It is important that this is done coherently so that the recommendations have more impact. ”
Imagine: as a policymaker you may change / draft 1 policy measure to help you achieve your objectives. Which one do you choose and why do you choose it?
“I would introduce a tax on carbon to ensure that polluting goods and services are properly priced. After all, the policymakers have the responsibility to correct the market economy and guarantee a positive effect for both the climate and citizens. It is important that this is part of a climate tax shift in which taxes on labour also decrease and in which the income is partially invested in renewable energy, accelerated renovation of the patrimony, public transport ... In short, the social aspect should be included. Proposals for Belgium have already been worked out, they just need to be converted into policy. This approach has already proven its impact abroad. ”
Why do you think this project is necessary?
“The results show that if we continue as we are now, we will not meet our 2050 targets for climate neutrality. The Flemish government also places an emphasis on the government to set a good example. However, municipalities and governmental organisations do not have all the knowledge in house or they lack the time and financial resources to work on this. They are also often lost in the wide range of projects and subsidies.
Making our heritage future-proof is broader than just energy efficiency and renewable energy.
SURE2050 wants to remove these barriers with practical support in order to jointly draw up that long-term real estate strategy and also to take action. Making our heritage future-proof is broader than just energy efficiency and renewable energy. Within SURE2050 we also think it is important to look at the broader picture: aligning location and mobility with the functions of a building, multifunctional use of buildings, climate adaptation of the patrimony, circular renovation, alternative financing models. Within SURE2050 we certainly cannot solve all these problems, but they are important elements in decisions that are made now. ”
You have already completed a project with the project. What positive things have you withheld from that first phase? What are the learning points? How was the feedback from the participants?
“It’s positive that the participants are motivated and that they are willing to take action. The exchange of knowledge and experience between the participants is also an added value. As a learning point, we take into account that the support must be really practical, with what support can we start immediately? Due to time constraints and focus on operational tasks, strategic work often comes second. Cooperation within an organisation is also essential in this. Spatial policy, as well as patrimony and sustainability, as well as the ultimate users of the patrimony, must support this. This does not always run smoothly.
Another major barrier is the limited financial resources and the importance of including all social costs and benefits of investments in decisions and not just the financial ones. ”
What are the major challenges for the project in the future?
“The biggest challenge will be to draw up substantial plans and to secure them within the organization, so that they are effectively supported and live within the organization. We now plan largely on the existing knowledge. In the coming years, there will certainly follow even more innovations and insights that will also have their impact. It is important that these options remain open, but that we already lay the foundation for a future-proof heritage and that necessary investments are not pushed on the long term by short-term thinking. ”
Thank you for this conversation!
More information about SURE2050 on their website.