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Innovative financing models to achieve energy retrofits in community buildings in Bristol

Testing innovative financing models to implement vital energy efficiency upgrades in community buildings

City Lab research led by: the City of Bristol and SPRU

Our context

Bristol is located in the south-west of England and has a population of 535,000 people, making it the largest city in the area.

The Bristol City Lab looks to address the issue of poor energy efficiency in community buildings across the city. In the past, these buildings have often been left until last to receive vital energy efficiency upgrades which has the potential to have an impact on its users. The City Lab explores how an alternative finance mechanism – investment based crowdfunding – could provide the desired capital to fund these projects whilst also delivering social benefits.

City Lab Description

In its SONNET City Lab, Bristol City Council focused on the question: how to make use of crowdfunding as an investment activity to collectively raise capital to install energy efficiency measures in local community buildings? The municipality, working in close collaboration with the Bristol Energy Network, engaged building managers to assess the costs and energy-related savings associated with undertaking energy efficiency works in community buildings. It then investigated the possibility of using a Community Municipal Bond (CMB) mechanism to fund this work – such a mechanism is explained in this video, created by the SONNET team in Bristol. Finally, the City Lab conducted a survey among citizens to see the level of interest in this type of investment.

Key learnings

  • Community buildings are highly valued by the local communities for the services they provide and the environment they create. People want these places to be safer and more energy efficient.
  • There is an interest among local communities to invest in a CMB as a means to fund the energy upgrades in their community buildings.
  • To launch the CMB in Bristol, the municipality would first need to run energy audits in more buildings to increase the value of the investment portfolio, and organise another round of face-to-face engagement on the CMBs.
  • There is an appetite to explore alternative ways of financing energy transition.

Read the Bristol City Lab report here.

Bristol, UK

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