The National Conference "Zero Energy Buildings: the Future is Now" in Burgas was held with multiple sessions and participants

During the conference, the Bulgarian national platform for climate and energy was announced

The National Conference "Zero Energy Buildings: The Future is Now” was organized by the Center for Energy Efficiency EnEffect, the Municipal Energy Efficiency Network EcoEnergy and with the support of the Municipality of Burgas.  3eNews is a media partner of the conference for the second consecutive year.

The conference was packed with numerous sessions, discussion forums, individual thematic presentations and a specialized nZEB exhibition, which was attended by representatives of national and local authorities, energy agencies, interested citizens, financial institutions and associations with various activities in the sustainable energy and climate sector.

During the first day of the event, topics related to knowledge and skills for energy efficiency in buildings, professional qualification of those working in the sector, opportunities for the implementation of renewable energy projects, including the recently opened programme for renewable energy in households and the programme for building renovation in Bulgaria, were presented, and the event coincided with the deadline for the submission of the first stage of project proposals for the renovation of multi-family buildings in the country.

In this regard, an appeal was made by the Deputy Mayor of Burgas Municipality, Vesna Baltina, to the committee in the regional ministry, which will evaluate the renovation projects, to return the projects with gaps for completion, rather than they be automatically eliminated from the ranking. By the deadline, 200 projects worth about 445 million leva had been submitted by Burgas municipality, the deputy mayor also said. She added that there is a great interest from the citizens to apply for the programme, but at the same time there are outstanding issues with companies that prepare the energy audits and technical passports of the buildings. The deputy mayor also recommended that other municipalities should create one-stop-shops for citizens' assistance, such as the one that has been functioning in Burgas since last year - the Burgas Energy Office.

On the second day, the focus was on the financing of building renovation, with another edition of the BeSMART National Round Table on Financing Energy Efficiency Investments. During the meeting, Silvia Rezessi from DG Energy explained the current preparations for the revision of the Building Directive, including the transition from near-zero to zero energy buildings by 2030 based on the specificities of distinct climate zones. The changes also include stronger incentives for the deployment of renewable energy, more investment and stimuli for deep building renovation and the introduction of a potential global warming index for new buildings. For existing buildings, the new changes aim to achieve the following: energy class A to cover zero-energy buildings after renovation, and a final G class to bring together the 15 percent of existing buildings with the worst energy performance. In this direction were presented the possibilities for financing and overcoming energy poverty through the Social Climate Fund, the implications for Bulgarian renovation policies in relation to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, instruments for attracting market financing, with presentations from financial institutions EIB, Fund of Funds, as well as energy companies such as Veolia Bulgaria and EVN Bulgaria.

The central theme of the conference during the third day of the event was the role of local authorities in the implementation of European and national climate and energy policies, with the participation of representatives from the SEDA, the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, the Covenant of Mayors Office, NTEF, Fund FLAG and the European Investment Bank. Representatives of the municipalities of Gabrovo, Burgas, Sofia, Botevgrad, Lom, etc. actively participated in the different sessions.

The possibilities for financing municipal projects through the different types of instruments were discussed, in particular the Development of Regions Programme, the open procedures of the NTEF related to schools and kindergartens, the Flag Fund's Flag-FICET project for energy efficiency in municipal buildings (incl. RES on cultivated municipal landfills, street lighting, geothermal energy, etc.). Mr. Assen Gasharov (EIB) presented in detail the terms of the European instrument for financing activities (in the sectors of sustainable energy, residential buildings and public transport) for energy efficiency ELENA, which is gaining popularity in our country, with grants reaching 90%.

At the end of the day, the Bulgarian National Platform for Energy and Climate was announced, which aims to bring together representatives of the different hierarchical administrative levels (state and local authorities) and stakeholders in a permanent forum for multi-level governance and dialogue. In this regard, Eng. Ivaylo Alexiev added that in addition to multi-level governance it is necessary to pay attention to multi-level planning in the sphere in order to achieve real results.

Parallel to the main conference, numerous sessions, discussion forums, training seminars took place during the event, such as:

  • The transition towards owner co-financing in the implementation of national building renovation programmes;
  • Financial instruments to support new energy efficient buildings;
  • Good practices from overseas: policies and measures for decarbonisation of the building stock;
  • Tandems project meeting related to the promotion of good practices for initiating energy communities among citizens;
  • Discussion on the future of energy communities in Bulgaria;
  • Specialised Building Exhibition;
  • Workshop on the RES programme for households;
  • Workshop for energy auditors;
  • Workshop on renovation of existing buildings;
  • Children's Celebration on 1st of June.