Contact person and interviewee
Since 2004, Marc works as senior expert for sustainable development, energy and climate issues in the Strategic Unit for Urban Development of the City of Liège.
He has been involved as local manager in several projects and is the contact point for various international networks, programmes or initiatives related to these matters, as Energy Cities, the Covenant of Mayors, the Sustainable Development Commission of the AIMF (Association of French Speaking Mayors), the Milan Pact or the Horizon Europe programme.
Please introduce your organisation.
Ville de Liège (VDL) is a medium-sized city of approximately 200.000 inhabitants. As a local authority, the city assumes a wide range of duties including economic and ecological city development. VDL is involved in various (city) networks such as the transboundary MAHHL+ city network (major cities situated in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine area) or the E.G.T.C. Euregio Meuse-Rhine. It is also member of the board of major international city networks such as “Energy Cities” or the International association of French speaking mayors “AIMF”.
VDL has over 1000 years of history, therefore it has one of the oldest building stocks of Belgium which leads to a need for important refurbishment investments both in residential and non-residential buildings.
For several years, the City of Liège has been quite active within the realm of INTERREG programs A and B since INTERREG III with various participations in projects such as “Sustainable Cities”, “HST-connect”, “Sustainable Urban Neighbourhoods”, Value-Added, N-Power, …
The City of Liège joined the CAN-Capitalisation project partnership in 2021. Prior to that, VDL was subpartner to “Liège-Energie” within the initial CAN project.
What motivated you to join CAN?
Ten years ago, VDL participated actively to the meta survey Urbiscoop, managed by the BENELUX General Secretary, aiming at considering the existing building stock retrofitting challenge and needs at scale of the Benelux and surrounding territories in Western Germany and Northern France.
A Memorandum of Understanding has been adopted by all parties, including cities, regional and national political levels.
This enabled VDL to propose some of the most reflected and ambitious action lines of the previous CAN project submitted in INTERREG VB NWE 2014-2020. The role of CAN-partner was endorsed by the NPO “Liège-Energie” which is part of the “Maison de l’Habitat” (House of Housing) in order to stimulate the local consortium in charge of accompanying the retrofitting process in the housing sector at neighbourhoods’ scale. The City of Liège stayed involved as sub-partner due to its experience in INTERREG projects management and reporting and to the expertise of its housing and economic development Department in the field of energy advising.
Beside CAN, the City of Liège was also involved as project partner in the INTERREG VB NWE67 “ACE-Retrofitting” targeting the condominium sector with its very complex governance and technical constraints and developed within the partnership a relevant accompanying methodology for boosting the willingness to change, supported by the dedicated interactive web-platform Reno-Copro (https://www.reno-copro.liege.be/ )
The idea to build on the experience gained within CAN and ACE-Retrofitting motivated us to use the acquired know-how in order to address the specific target audience of the private tertiary sector, i.e. SMEs and shopkeepers. This sector went through a very rough patch due to the sanitary crisis and the lockdowns. Furthermore, the current worldwide energy crisis is strongly impacting the tertiary sector and threatens its profitability. Above that, quite often, the building hosting their activity does not respond to the energy performances that will soon be mandatory.
Therefore, CAN-Capitalisation and its target audience fully corresponds to the ambitions of the City of Liège – help SMEs and shopkeepers to reach the climate objectives and to get stronger in the aftermath of the sanitary crisis facing the competition with the e-commerce and the energy crisis.
Our experience within transnational projects has been very beneficial. As a matter of fact, as partner of such a project you are able to share experiences and learn a lot from one another. The transnational aspect has been proven essential to acquire the best possible results.
When CAN-Capitalisation was proposed to target SMEs, it appeared relevant for the City of Liège to endorse the role of project partner, to reinforce the expertise both in project management and in energy advising with a strong involvement of its Communication Unit and to capitalise on other kinds of local stakeholders dedicated to work with this target group or involved in circular economy supporting programmes.
Especially, the Commerce Office, with its dedicated tool of the “Commerce Observatory” linked to the GIS platform of the Land-Use Department, manages a strong database of location and characterization for about 4,700 SMEs and shops with a sorting regarding their sector of activity.
What are your objectives for the next two years?
Capitalizing on both CAN and ACE-Retrofitting approaches and tools, we aim at developing an integrated accompanying process of our local SMEs sector in order to enable it to get out of the Covid crisis in a positive way and to enable its positioning in the energy and climate transition and circular economy processes.
So, the realisations and initiative of proactive SMEs and shopkeepers “Early Birds” will be highlighted as success stories and the various active networks and operators as “Multiplicators” in order to boost the willingness to act of the target group.
Please describe briefly your planned activities.
In order to meet in the best possible way the needs of our target audience, we will implement a bottom-up approach in order to find out their precise needs, the obstacles they are facing, … Therefore, a questionnaire – both digital and ‘paper’ version – will be elaborated.
The results of this consultation will be analyzed in order to set up workshops, info sessions, flyers, etc, addressing the target audience. Face-to-face consultations responding to the precise context a shopkeeper, an SME is confronted with will be organized.
A communication campaign based on “early birds” and “best practices” will be developed since the impact of “peers” has proven to be a most efficient way to convince (f.eg. Engage campaign).
Since a large part of shopkeepers and SMEs are tenants, a specific approach will be implemented in order to reach the owners of the buildings.
On the other hand, in order to inform the target audience on the existing means, a web platform will be built offering information on the available tools (incl. financial aid, energy audits, etc.), potential suppliers for energy refurbishing, etc. This platform is bound to evolve throughout the duration of the CAN-Cap project and even afterwards because it will “grow” as we get a better knowledge of the needs and barriers encountered, learn from the other Project and Associated Partners, get better acquainted with the local organizations and tools.
What results do you expect? How can other municipalities/agencies benefit from your experiences?
Since we will be collaborating with organizations active in larger territories than the city’s (EKLO, UCM, Province of Liège, Sowalfin, National Association of Real Estate Owners, Chambers of Builders, etc.), we are quite confident to be able to roll out the results obtained through the project to other municipalities within the Province of Liège (84 municipalities), the Walloon Region (262 municipalities) and the transboundary Euregio Meuse-Rhine area.