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EIB & Belfius Sign Two Agreements Aimed At Smart & Sustainable Investment And Combat Climate Change

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Luxembourg–European Investment Bank Partnership Seen As Example To Improving Climate Investment

Private Finance For Energy Efficiency (PF4EE): EUR 75m to boost corporate energy efficiency investment in Belgium. Smart Cities, Climate Action & Circular Economy: an additional EUR 400m to support Smart Cities, the fight against global warming and the circular economy

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Belfius have signed two key agreements to encourage corporate investment aiming to improve energy efficiency in Belgium and help local authorities, inter-municipal utilities and non-profit organisations in education and healthcare to implement their smart and sustainable projects. These will be carried out in the energy, mobility, urban development, water, waste and e-government sectors and focus in particular on the circular economy and climate change.

Dirk Gyselinck, member of the management board at Belfius Banque & Assurances, and Pim van Ballekom, Vice-President of the EIB, have signed an agreement under the EIB and European Commission’s new Private Finance For Energy Efficiency (PF4EE) instrument (LIFE programme) to address the shortage of tailored and affordable commercial financing for energy efficiency investment.

The PF4EE instrument combines three elements. The first consists of an EIB loan for financing eligible energy efficiency projects, to be managed by local banks. The second component covers the losses potentially incurred by partner banks in relation to energy efficiency loans. The third component will bolster the implementation of the PF4EE instrument by transferring the technical and financial experience acquired in the course of other similar projects.

This agreement will enable Belfius to provide businesses with EUR 75m in loans on favourable terms for investments aimed at improving energy efficiency in Belgium, thereby addressing key climate-change issues.

These loans are available to both businesses and Energy Service Companies (ESCOs). Belfius will have access to the technical and financial expertise of specialised consultants and will benefit from a transfer of experience as part of PF4EE. These loans will also be secured by the PF4EE guarantee up to 80% of their value.

Projects financed by PF4EE will aim, in particular, to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings (insulation, heating, ventilation, cooling, lighting, decentralised renewable energy production, etc.), reduce the energy consumption and strengthen the energy efficiency of industrial sites and processes, refit or extend urban heating or cooling networks, and improve the energy performance of public lighting systems. The projects will be implemented on behalf of either the borrowing companies themselves or their public or private sector customers.

This agreement with Belfius makes Belgium the fourth country to benefit from PF4EE after the Czech Republic, Spain and France. The European Commission and EIB aim to use this new instrument to generate EUR 1bn in energy efficiency investment across Europe. By extending access to this tailored and preferential financing for improving energy efficiency to Belgian businesses, Belfius and the EIB are engaging in targeted action to reduce CO2 emissions and combat global warming.

It is essential to mobilise private finance to be able to implement an ambitious global climate agreement

Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said: “It is essential to mobilise private finance to be able to implement an ambitious global climate agreement. I am delighted that this new instrument is starting to generate concrete projects aimed at reducing energy consumption and is leading to increased investment in energy efficiency.”

Smart Cities, Climate Action & Circular Economy

In addition to this major agreement, Belfius and the EIB also renewed their partnership for supporting the development of Smart Cities in Belgium.

Following the success of their Smart Cities & Sustainable Development programme – a European first when it was launched in June 2014 – Belfius and the EIB have decided to jointly provide an additional EUR 400m to finance smart, inclusive and sustainable projects mounted by local authorities, inter-municipal utilities and social sector (education and healthcare) non-profit organisations.

The scope of this new programme, dubbed Smart Cities, Climate Action & Circular Economy, has therefore been widened to encompass the social sector, and also aims to make investments “circular” in nature. It covers not only energy performance, mobility and urban development, but also water (distribution networks, sewers, drainage, treatment), waste (selective collection, sorting, biological treatment and sludge treatment, energy production) and e-government (particularly open data). In addition to an integrated, innovative and sustainable approach, the circular economy and climate action are now key components of project appraisal and evaluation.

More than 1 400 000 people have already benefited from EUR 400m across 62 projects

In two and a half years, 62 “Smart” projects have received financing totalling EUR 400m under this joint EIB-Belfius programme, with over 200 applications examined. These 62 projects – which are all either already up and running or in progress – affect 1 400 000 people and mostly fall within an integrated approach combining urban development, sustainable mobility and energy efficiency.

Several further applications are currently being assessed, and Belfius and the EIB are committed to using the new Smart Cities, Climate Action & Circular Economy programme to continue their active support for this dynamic, thereby contributing to sustainable growth – a source of prosperity and social progress for people and businesses.

EIB Vice-President Pim van Ballekom said: “Tackling climate change tops the EIB’s list of priorities. As the EU bank, we have real financial clout in this domain. However, we know that we will make a real difference by catalysing and mobilising even more capital, and by combining our resources, skills and expertise with those of others. We are delighted to support climate innovation once again by signing these two new climate operations in Belgium. Together with the European Commission, our institutional counterpart, and Belfius, our long-standing partner for these operations, we are sure our global approach – better energy performance, improved use of natural resources, circular investment projects, and smart and sustainable urban development – will quickly have a direct impact on our environment and people’s daily lives.”

Dirk Gyselinck, member of the management board at Belfius, said: “Given the numerous challenges to be overcome and climate change in particular, governments, social sector players and businesses have no choice but to work together, and with individuals, to think about and design the world of tomorrow. Our Smart Belgium strategy aims to make Belfius the driving force behind this initiative, providing tangible, local support and applying our financing and expertise to offer a smart and sustainable response to the needs of current and future generations. We are therefore particularly pleased to sign these two key agreements – which are fully in line with this strategy – with the EIB today.”

Environment

These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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