In 2007, the Municipality of Paris adopted its first Climate Plan, aimed at reducing the city’s GHG emissions by 75% by 2050. One of the Climate Plan’s goals is to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions in municipal buildings by 30% by 2020 from a 2004 baseline. Since Paris’ primary and pre-schools comprise more than a quarter of all city-owned buildings and represent around 38% of energy consumption of municipal buildings, a School Retrofit Project was included as part of the Climate Plan. This specific initiative is tasked with retrofitting 600 schools, with a target of 65 GWh of energy savings per yearxxxiii.

In order to guarantee the savings, schools involved in the project are covered by energy efficiency contracts, signed between the public authority and an ESCO. The ESCO guarantees minimum savings in energy and is penalised if these targets are not met.


The first contract (signed in December 2011 for 20 years) for 100 schools is being delivered through a private finance initiative (PFI). The ESCO pre-finances the initial work and starts being paid back by the public authority after all the works have been completed. The ESCO thus conducts the pre-work studies, carries out the work and delivers the maintenance and energy monitoring for the duration of the contract. The ESPC model Paris adopted involves partial sharing of responsibilities between the two contract parties. Thus, in 72 of the schools, the municipal technical employees are in charge of the maintenance, while the ESCO is responsible for providing their training. The ESCO is also required to educate school employees and pupils about eco-friendly measures.

An advantage of the PFI contract is that the 30% energy savings commitment is for the overall contract, i.e. a group of schools and not per school. This allows the ESCO to optimise its work programme across buildings and benefit from economies of scale. The retrofit of the first 100 schools is expected to lead to a reduction of 10.7 MWh of energy consumption per annum over the period 2014-2031, resulting in savings of 2,300 tonnes CO2 per annum. The first intermediate results indicate savings in excess of the 30% targets have already been achieved.xxxiv

Reasons for success

Bundling the city-owned school buildings into a single project has enabled Paris to benefit from economies of scale for the ESPC. The shared responsibility between the city and ESCO for buildings maintenance helped to transfer the ESCO’s expertise to municipal employees via training, building municipal capacity for future projects. 

C40 Good Practice Guides

C40's Good Practice Guides offer mayors and urban policymakers roadmaps for tackling climate change, reducing climate risk and encouraging sustainable urban development. With 100 case studies taken from cities of every size, geography and stage of development around the world, the Good Practice Guides provide tangible examples of climate solutions that other cities can learn from. 

The Municipal Building Efficiency Good Practice Guide is available for download here.  The full collection of C40 Good Practice Guides is available for download here.  

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  • Economic
  • Environmental
  • Social
Key Impact
100 schools retrofitted, with energy savings on average in excess of 30%
Emissions Reduction
2,300 tonnes CO2 per annum
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