As part of the Greendeal4buildings project, introductory meetings of expert groups were held in preparation for the first meeting of the GreenDeal4Buildings Round Table, which will take place on March 31, 2022, at the Tatra Hotel in Bratislava.
The meetings were attended by experts from both the public and private sectors. At the meetings, space was given to introduce the participants in order to get acquainted with their expertise and area of operation. One of the aims of the meetings was to network stakeholders and create cooperation that will last during the project as well as after its completion.
Expert group meetings were opened by the project coordinator, Mr. Pavol Kováčik, president of the Association of Construction Entrepreneurs of Slovakia. He began by emphasizing the need for GreenDeal4Buildings project and the background to why there is a need to focus on investment into sustainable building renovation. The GreenDeal4Buildings project has won the trust of the European Commission as one of three successful projects out of a total of 20 proposals submitted.
Construction, energy and their financing are undergoing dramatic changes as a result of EU Taxonomy and the European Green Deal. The construction sector and its investments therefore need to be prepared for these changes. The EU Taxonomy determines which investments will be considered sustainable. Investors will take these requirements into account and thus economic activities that do not meet these requirements will not be competitive and will lose market relevance. Regions that are prepared for this will have a competitive advantage and the market will move to them. This is already happening abroad, so it is necessary to face the fact that in Slovakia it must be solved sooner or later as well.
Because of all of this, the project objectives are:
- To increase the competitiveness of Slovak regions/cities/municipalities to obtain sustainable investments,
- To increase the competitiveness of businesses in the construction sector, including the entire value chain to attract sustainable investments,
- To create an ecosystem and support for the development of sustainable investments in the buildings and urban infrastructure sectors in (in the case of the Sustainable Energy Expert Group) renovated/new energy positive buildings, smart energy services, energy community development, sustainability of renewable energy and fuel technologies, and others (participants received a general overview of targeted activities).
The project will result in 4 roadmaps focusing on residential, non-residential (commercial) and industrial buildings and urban infrastructure.
Sustainable Energy Expert Group
The meeting took place on February 22, 2022 on the premises of the Slovak Innovation and Energy Agency, which is the facilitator of this expert group. The meeting was attended by the Ministry of the Environment of the Slovak Republic, the Office of the Government of the Slovak Republic, the Slovak Environment Agency, the e-Dome company, the SMART CITY Association, the Slovak Photovoltaic Industry and RES Association (SAPI), the Slovak Smart city cluster, the Energy cities association and the company ENVIROS, Slovak Trade Association, Slovak Green Building Council, Association for Better Apartment Management, Slovak University of Technology and its Faculty of Civil Engineering and project partners ZSPS, Prvá stavebná sporiteľňa, Association of Entrepreneurs in Construction, Institute for Education and Services and ViaEuropa Competence Center Ltd.
The agenda of the meeting included a presentation of the project, its objectives, the structure of the meeting, a presentation of stakeholders and a discussion, especially on the background material for the meeting. The material contained detailed topics, which were grouped into the following five thematic clusters:
- Positive energy districts – PED,
- Consumers in the energy market,
- Energy services for consumers in residential and commercial buildings and SMEs,
- Sustainability of Renewable Energy and Fuel Technologies (REFT),
- Legislation and policy instruments.
The participants reflected on the introductory presentation, the intentions of the project and its goals. There was a general consensus that steps need to be taken to support sustainable investment and to prepare Slovakia for the taxonomy requirements, which are already being considered abroad, while not yet in Slovakia. It is also important to support private capital and investment in the renovation of buildings and the renovation of energy equipment in buildings, for example in the form of GES. It is extremely important to focus not only on sustainable energy and construction, but also on the sustainability of the finances and investments themselves.
Construction and value chain expert group
The meeting took place on March 8, 2022, on the premises of the Association of Construction Entrepreneurs of Slovakia, which is the facilitator of this professional group. The meeting was attended by representatives of Secondary School of Civil Engineering in Nitra, Secondary School of Technology and Crafts in Bratislava, Slovak Trade Union, Strechostav Ltd, Prva stavebná sporiteľňa, SIEA, consulting company LA Holding Ltd, Association of Entrepreneurs in Construction, Institute for Education and Services and ViaEuropa Competence Center Ltd.
In addition to the presentation of the project, its goals and the structure of the meeting, the meeting program also included a lecture on “The coming era of sustainability – threat or opportunity?” At the same time, the goal of the expert group was presented, as well as the proposal of the elaborated thematic clusters, which were to be the subject of discussion.
Proposed clusters for the Expert Group:
- Promoting innovation for climate neutrality,
- Support for small and medium enterprises in introducing innovations,
- Funding of education and training at all levels to support innovation for climate neutrality,
- The necessary changes in policies and legislative conditions to support innovation,
- Funding and support of lighthouse projects Smart Cities, smart energy services for integration of energy sectors, new design of the energy market and it’s interconnection with buildings,
- Support program for the implementation of ESG (Environmental and Social Governance) and cooperation with the financial sector in the implementation of mandatory reporting of financing of sustainable business activities.
The extensive discussion that took place at the meeting focused on the following topics:
- Modular construction,
- Green procurement, procurement of innovations,
- Quality control and guarantee and adherence to technological procedures during construction,
- Greater role and importance of professional organizations,
- Lack of a further education system,
- Low interest in studying and working in construction among students, graduates and adults,
- Support for students in scarce professions in the form of scholarships and promotion of crafts,
- Professional cards.
Sustainable Investment Financing Expert Group
The meeting took place on March 9, 2022, in online form. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic, the Slovak Banking Association, the Smart Cities Club, SIEA, ZSPS, the Association of Entrepreneurs in Construction, the Institute for Education and Services, ViaEuropa Competence Center Ltd and Prvá stavebná sporiteľňa, which is the facilitator of this expert group. The program of the meeting was similar to the previous two expert groups, namely the presentation of the project, its objectives, structure, stakeholders and thematic clusters of the group.
As in the previous expert groups, a detailed draft of the thematic clusters was sent to all members of the expert group before the meeting, and it contains:
- A platform for financing sustainable green investments and renovations of buildings to the EPB (energy positive buildings) standard,
- EU taxonomy for sustainable private sector investment and ESG,
- Standardization of the methodology for evaluation of sustainable investment projects with the aim of aggregating projects into large units,
- Reducing the risks of sustainable energy investments,
- legislative changes to support sustainable energy investments,
- Cooperation with the business sector in the implementation of mandatory reporting of financing of sustainable business activities (SFDR – Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation),
- Financial blending in sustainable energy investments.
The discussion on these clusters was conducted in the area of the necessary close involvement of the representatives of towns and municipalities in the discussion, as well as the issue of drawing and the interest of towns and municipalities in European finances. Discussions on the proposed topics will continue in the framework of the newly created financial platform created by the project, which will stimulate discussion between the financial community, policy makers and clients, identify examples of best practices to reduce the risk of sustainable energy investments, successful approaches to increasing funding for sustainable energy projects investments (including the aggregation of smaller projects into larger units) and to facilitate their wider application in financial practice.