MechCiCo: “Mechelaars Circulair & Coöperatief”

Technical installations as a service for buildings in temporary use

In Mechelen, one in 10 commercial properties is empty. Often the buildings are so outdated that renovation or new construction is imminent. The city of Mechelen and Mest vzw try to look for a temporary use, but precisely because of this temporary nature, the incentive to invest in the sustainable use of the building is lacking. After all, nobody wants to invest in replacing outdated lighting, generating sustainable energy or recovering rainwater if it is only for temporary use. 

With the MechCiCo project, the Klimaan citizens' cooperative aims to tackle that problem by working with local players to offer indoor comfort as a product-service to the users of such buildings. New or second-hand technical solutions are thereby adapted to changing users and later reused in other buildings. 

Specifically, we applied this business model to the old library on the Monesstraat. Klimaan thus becomes the first practical example of a cooperative (citizen) CESCO, i.e. Circular Economy Service Company.

Klimaan vzw

Partners Mechelen, Mest vzw, Thomas More, Ecofocus





  1. With the Relighting project, we relieve the building manager of lighting issues through a CESCoop contract. We took broken bulbs to the container park and replaced them with reusable and more efficient bulbs. As much as 40% less electricity was used for lighting! 
  2. We created the Impact Estimator, an online tool to weigh up the climate impact and financial cost of electrical appliances. It helps people look not only at the price, but also at energy efficiency, CO2 emissions in production ... 
  3. We drew up a reusable inventory in which we mapped all demountable building components in order to give them a second life. 
  4. We worked out a new business model in our region, the pawnshop model, in which vacant houses are renovated in an energy-efficient way for the social rental market. 
  5. Rain barrel: rain flows via downspouts straight through sewers to the river. Through the installation of some cubitainers, this water could now be used by the start-up plant shop (KikT)


  1. Renovating and repurposing buildings and recovering building components for reuse deliver significant climate impact gains over demolition, remanufacturing and new construction. Even with appliances, longer use is often more important than energy efficiency gains. 
  2. Temporary use of PV panels is hampered by one-off costs such as the stability study and the cost of installation and relocation. Short duration and poor building condition and safety are constraints for such large investments. 
  3. Reliable tools and environmental data from embedded CO2 are best open-sourced as much as possible. Shielding such data from commercial interests could slow down the progress of the necessary climate transition. 
  4. Getting volunteers and professionals to work together gives great results. Where the market does not yet pick up on innovation, cooperation with citizens' cooperatives can sometimes lead to a breakthrough. A paid process manager can provide continuity to the commitment of volunteers.
40% electrical savings through Relighting
609 consultations impact estimator
52 volunteers
172 volunteer days


The MechCiCo project will continue. The Impact Estimator will continue to be maintained and there are plans to expand the tool for more devices. The Pandschap Rivierenland has been set up as a sustainable concept that can renovate permanently vacant properties and guide them to social renting. 

Furthermore, the project 'Municipality as Circular Construction Director' is working to get inventoried building components onto the reuse market even better. 

Klimaan vzw gets results from the use of volunteers with supervision by a paid employee. The city of Mechelen is thinking about setting up new tandems between city officials and the citizen movement to speed up the resolution of difficult challenges. 

With the help of CECI European project money, a youtube video was also made about MechCiCo's project results. Be sure to take a look: