Flemish public buildings and circular renovation

By 2030, Flanders aims to save 30% energy. Our public heritage plays a key role in this. In order to maximise the circularity of Flemish public buildings, Factor4, the Flemish Energy Company (VEB) and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) developed an innovative model contract with accompanying contract documents.

The contract is a performance contract and sets binding targets for energy and water savings, circularity, residual value and comfort of the renovated building. Interested parties can then tender for the contract as Energy Service Companies or ESCOs.

Within the CiRe project (Circular Renovation), we tested the model contract on a few projects of energy renovation of Flemish public buildings. We also developed some tools and procedures.

For example, we researched the cost-effective use of TOTEM by ESCOs (Energy Service Companies). During the tender phase they must be able to estimate the environmental costs of the materials used quickly and at the lowest possible cost.
Correction factors still had to be applied to the environmental costs calculated with TOTEM, among other things in connection with dismantling, re-use, etc. After several technical consultations with experts of VUB Architectural Engineering, VEB and Factor4, we developed a first test version of the CiRe Excel materials scoring tool.

Finally, the integration of the residual value was further developed. For the realisation of savings in the field of water consumption, it soon became clear that a similar methodology, namely realising savings via the water counter, would be too refined.

All these tools are used within the CiRe project in energy renovation projects of three Flemish building partners, representing 17 buildings and one district heating network.

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Partners Vrije Universiteit Brussel, TRANSFORM part of æ-lab, Vlaams EnergieBedrijf





  1. In addition to performance-based contracting, which was still relatively new and innovative, especially at the start of the CiRe project (early 2018) in Flanders, we also worked within the CiRe project on three innovative tools and procedures: (1) the cost-effective use of TOTEM by ESCOs, (2) the CiRe Excel score tool materials and (3) integration of the Residual Value in all CiRe pilot projects.
  2. As part of the CiRe project, we organised many in-house workshops. We learned a lot from these interactions. We will take this input with us to convince interested building partners to opt for performance contracts even more quickly in the future.
  3. The workshops have contributed to greater awareness of the benefits of performance-based/circular energy renovations. They have increased the confidence of the market in such processes.
  4. The CiRe pilot projects represent an investment of more than 10 million euros in energy-saving measures. This certainly has a positive impact on employment in the construction sector.


  1. Initiating performance-based energy renovation projects is very time-consuming. The lead time (= the time between the first contact and the decision to start a project) varies between 10 and 20 months.
  2. It is important for ESCOs to be able to use TOTEM to quickly and cost-effectively estimate the environmental cost of their proposed measures. In addition, for use in EPC projects, TOTEM must generate quickly accessible figures for the environmental impact of materials (without energy impact, as this is already part of the EPC contract) and the naming in the TOTEM library must be linked to the content.
  3. The calculation of the environmental impact of materials will have to be introduced step by step in the tenders for performance-based energy renovations. First, for example, for a limited number of measures, then for all the measures proposed and finally with guarantees regarding the calculated environmental impact of the materials.
  4. The partnership with the three project partners provided absolute added value to the project. A great deal of specialised know-how was exchanged.
40 Workshops with potential building partners
9 feasibility and coaching processes
3 pilot projects launched
€10.000.000 the potential of energy and water saving measures has been detected


Both the Flemish government and the local authorities have high climate ambitions. In the coming years, therefore, considerable investments will have to be made in the energy renovation of buildings. The potential of performance-based, circular energy renovations is therefore very large.

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