Opening in Gembloux of the first "Smart Cities" project in Belgium
25 September 2015
New Gembloux Town Hall: first "Smart Cities & Sustainable Development" project completed under the unique EIB/Belfius financing programme
In 2007, the Town of Gembloux decided to bring all its services together under one roof in a new town hall, showcasing the resulting increased efficiency and the innovative and sustainable character of the new building. As it is fully consistent with the town's sustainable development strategy and the objectives of Gembloux 2020 and makes a clear contribution to the regeneration of the town centre, this project corresponded perfectly to the requirements of the "Smart Cities & Sustainable Development" financing programme, a European first, launched last year by Belfius Banque and the European Investment Bank (EIB). The new "smart and sustainable" town hall, which was officially opened today in the presence of the authorities and representatives of the EIB and Belfius, is the first "Smart Cities & Sustainable Development" project in the Walloon region - and in Belgium as a whole - to have been made possible by this unique financing programme.
As soon as the "Smart Cities and Sustainable Development" programme was launched by Belfius and the EIB, the Town of Gembloux submitted a financing application for its new town hall. During the appraisal of the dossier, it rapidly became clear that the project was based on an integrated, innovative and sustainable approach. It was therefore eligible to receive funds under this advantageous facility, particularly with respect to the following criteria:
accessibility for persons with reduced mobility;
energy performance: insulation, air-tightness, overheating protection, energy savings, ventilation, rainwater collection, photovoltaic panels, lighting etc.;
As a consequence, Belfius and the EIB felt that the project made a clear contribution to sustainable development and would help the Town of Gembloux to set an example to other municipalities.
According to Gembloux's Mayor Benoît Dispa, "by opting for a sustainable, innovative and controlled investment, the Town of Gembloux is entering into the 21st Century: this project is both exemplary and productive, in terms of development and service to the community."
Launched in June 2014, this joint financing programme of Belfius Banque and the EIB makes EUR 400m available to local authorities in Belgium for the implementation of "smart and sustainable" projects with a "Smart Cities" approach, focusing specifically on mobility, urban development and energy efficiency.
The objective of this programme is to minimise borrowing costs for municipalities, CPAS (rest homes) and inter-municipal utilities in order to support their innovative and sustainable approach. The EIB and Belfius will each provide half of the funds.
Just over a year after the programme launch, the outcome is already highly positive. The new Gembloux town hall is the very first project in the Walloon Region - and in Belgium as a whole - to have been implemented thanks to this unique financing programme. Many other "smart" projects from towns, municipalities and inter-municipal utilities are currently being examined, confirming that the "Smart Cities" initiative has well and truly taken off throughout the country.
Delighted with the success of the "Smart Cities & Sustainable Development" programme, EIB Vice-President Pim van Ballekom stated, "The 'Smart Cities & Sustainable Development' programme is a first for Belgium and also for Europe. It aims to provide impetus to the '"Smart Cities" approach so that it becomes the new norm for the construction of the towns and cities of tomorrow. 'Smart, inclusive and sustainable' projects, such as those promoted by the European Union's 'Europe 2020' strategy, are drivers of growth for these entities for the benefit of their citizens".
Dirk Gyselinck, member of Belfius Banque's Management Board, added, "Regardless of their size, towns have no other choice but to become smart in order to remain attractive. Even though there is no shortage of ideas, projects still run into financing hurdles when it comes to putting them into practice. It is precisely to facilitate the implementation of these numerous smart projects currently in pipelines or at the embryo stage throughout the country that Belfius has developed the ‘Smart Cities & Sustainable Development’ programme with the EIB."
The European Investment Bank (EIB), the bank of the European Union, will provide €50 million to Slovenska izvozna in razvojna banka (SID Banka) to create a new source of more affordable financing for investments in small infrastructure projects promoted by Slovenian municipalities. SID Banka will match the EIB investment with own funds, unlocking a total of €100 million for investments in municipal development in Slovenia.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed a finance agreement with the Ministry of Economy and Finance to create a Fund of Funds for an initial amount of €772 million under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan for operations under the remit of the Tourism and Interior Ministries. The EIB will channel these funds to firms via financial intermediaries that will be selected following calls for expression of public interest.