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SUstainable Real Estate 2050

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SURE2050 (SUstainable Real Estate 2050)

Reporting period: 2019-05-01 to 2020-08-31

Sustainable Public Real Estate Management (SPREM) is almost non-existent in Flanders (Belgium). SPREM can be defined as the management – i.e. acquisition, holding, using and disposing - of real estate assets in such a way that it realizes ambitious sustainability goals, minimizes the total costs of ownership and life cycle costs and maximises the benefits of real estate for the community.
The absence of SPREM is a major barrier for large scale sustainable energy investments in public buildings in the short, medium and long term in Flanders, hence also posing a risk for not reaching the 2050 climate goals for the public building stock.

Public buildings are an important meeting place between the government's policy and the citizens. It's an interface where sustainability becomes tangible. Realizing a sustainable building stock has many more advantages than just lowering the energy and maintenance bills. The public buildings are increasingly becoming multi-functional, are adapting to changing needs of public services and guarantee a healthy indoor climate.
SURE2050 (SUstainable Real Estate 2050) wants to make the public building stock of local and Flemish government future-proof.

The development of a strategic real estate vision and plan at portfolio level is considered as a condition to realize a climate-neutral public building stock by 2050. The strategic real estate plans are also the basis for decision making on investments in energy efficiency measures (EE) and local renewable energy projects (RE) in individual buildings. A strategic real estate vision goes however beyond only the use of energy, also spatial policy is a crucial part of this long term vision.

Plenty of the existing public buildings need to be renovated in depth to reach climate and energy targets. A huge investment is needed and simultaneously, public budgets are scarce. However within the existing building stock, there is also a big potential of finding adequate resources and implementing cost savings.

SURE2050 will support to make the right choices at the right time to realize a cost-efficient, climate-neutral public building stock. To achieve the creation of strategic real estate visions and translation of this vision into actionable investment plans, the project focuses on creating a strong methodology, which is put into practice through coaching and trainings and supported with templates and tools:
1. Organisational improvements: identifying ways to professionalise the decision making and to start implementation of measures in a cost-efficient and effective way.
2. Real estate optimisation: realising a coherent future-proof real estate strategy with milestones for 2030, 2040 and 2050.
3. Energy efficiency measures: preparing, tendering and implementing investment projects (incl searching adequate financing solutions) to reduce the buildings energy demands.
We kicked off the project with 75 participants (municipalities and regional Flemish government), much more than initially expected.
The project approach is to include all aspects that have an impact on the realisation of the energy and climate objectives and other goals for public buildings. Although the focus of the methodology is real estate, other aspects such as spatial policy, mobility, citizen participation, climate adaptation,… have been addressed within the SPREM methodology. The methodology addresses the specific aspects of municipal real estate as well as of real estate policies of entities at the regional Flemish government.

To translate this methodology into practice, training sessions and individual coaching sessions were provided to the participants to support creating their strategic real estate visions and plans. As such, the training methodology was transformed into a step-by-step 'learning by doing' approach, with the SPREM coach as a guide. Supporting tools have been developed to support decision making and management of the transition period towards a climate neutral real estate portfolio.
Next to the training sessions on SPREM, several sessions were organized on specific related topics. The topics are compiled on the basis of the feedback and bottlenecks of participants during the development of the SPREM. With de sessions we also want to involve more theme-related external partners in SURE2050.

All material is made available on a learning platform, which is shared in cooperation with the European project BE REEL! (renovation of residential building stock).
As SPREM, in particular related to the goal to realise a climate neutral public real estate portfolio by 2050, is evolving rapidly with new insights and new overall energy and climate goals and policy development (e.g. energy and climate plans, green deal, …). We keep track of new insights and new tools in Belgium and in other member states and use this information to evaluate and strengthen our SPREM methodology and tools.

Aim is to have the first strategic real estate plans of the participants ready by end of 2020. Investment projects (at portfolio and building level) shall be aligned with the strategic real estate vision and plans. Given this dependency, there are no specific investments reported yet.
SURE2050 has had already a strong impact on public policy making at the Flemish regional level. The Flemish government decided to centralise the management of all public office buildings at the regional level with the objective to improve the efficiency of the portfolio and to realise a climate neutral public real estate building stock by 2045. SURE2050 has been included as the preferred management approach for public buildings in the Flemish Energy and Climate plan (part of the National Energy and Climate Plan). As the SURE2050 approach is now part of the formal public policy, all Flemish organisations at the central level with a building portfolio are urged to join the SURE2050 programme.
The new Climate action plan for the Flemish municipalities is not yet final, but the added value of a strategic real estate plan for municipalities was acknowledged.

The decision making on sustainable investments is part of the ongoing development of strategic real estate visions and plans. The sustainable investments that are the result of this strategic exercise will be reported once more final strategic real estate plans are submitted. The prognosis is that the investment goals set for the project will be realised.

Having a strategic real estate plan and corresponding organizational structure to secure the continuous adjustments when needed lays the foundation for clear action plans on future proof buildings and their financing strategies. It is essential in order to understand and act on the challenges towards a climate neutral building stock. With the local governments setting the example, it will also positively influence the citizens and create support and participation in the transition towards a climate neutral society.
Picture from SURE2050 kick off