Dr. Florian Buchter, "Assessment of the Need for a New Digital Platform to Accelerate Energy Efficient Renovation Project Implementation in the Swiss Context"
Acceleration of Energy Efficient Renovation (ENEFR) project implementation by doubling its rate in Switzerland is a major requirement to meet the Swiss environmental target of net zero greenhouse gases emissions by 2050. ENEFR may represent a significant market for contractors implementing the projects and the lenders providing financing to the building owner. However, there are barriers to overcome to tap in this potential. A major one is the difficulty faced by building owners to manage the fragmentation of the number of contractors (including advisors, architects), lenders, etc. involved in renovation process, making it a complex task slowing down their decision to start ENEFR projects. Additionally, the environmental legal framework become stricter and impact the value of low efficiency building negatively, in some cases even producing assets stranding. For financing institutions, lending money to building owners willing to implement ENEFR projects may represent a mitigation measure against this risk.
The present work contributed to investigate key-selected aspects in the Swiss context of a potential application of a digital one-stop-shop (OSS) platform able to bring full services approaches for ENEFR project implementation at a single point and therefore significantly reduce the fragmentation of the renovation process. The digital approach of the platform allows additional features compared to standard OSS (e.g. streamlining, event detection, profiling, matching, robo advising, improved acquisition, etc.).
A review of issues and barriers that may prevent a faster implementation of ENEFR projects and possible solutions to them was carried out (for owners, contractors, and lenders). The adequacy of a digital OSS to bring solution to these issues is investigated and possible synergies between solutions are also considered. This laid the basis of the strong relevance of a digital OSS for every stakeholder involved in the ENEFR market.
Due to the risk of asset stranding, the point of view of the Swiss lenders is particularly considered in the present work. To be effective, the concept of digital OSS must convince all the categories of stakeholders. The first experimental part of the work, realized based on questionnaire-based open-discussion interviews with a panel of lenders (banks, insurance, crowdlending platform, investment fund, ESCO), was performed to check the lenders interest for ENEFR business and it could verify its attractivity for lenders and highlight interest to develop it. Further the attractivity of a digital OSS platform was established for Swiss lenders to achieve this goal.
The second experimental part of the work was aimed at a possible design of the digital OSS platform that is attractive for lenders as well. To achieve this, a participative method was applied (workshop) involving a panel of representative lenders. The scope of the platform in terms of geographical area (local, regional, national) was also considered. Results clearly indicated that the priority functionalities required by the lenders are all digital ones (profiling, matching, robo advising, event or opportunity detection, streamlining). This strongly supports the relevance of a digital platform, combined with some face-to-face advising. The main identified issue with the platform is data protection. Local application of the platform is the best with replication of it in the whole country to pay back the platform investment.
The workshop results reinforce the conclusion that lenders are considering the business opportunities in the ENEFR market and the digital OSS may be a useful concept to harness them and accelerate ENEFR project implementation.