Offering low-income households access to energy efficiency improvements

A win-win business model allowing independent electricians to renovate households affected by fuel poverty



Région PACA
2017 to 2018


Project description   

In France, many households are in urgent need of maintenance works or energy retrofits to ensure their thermal comfort and help them manage their energy bills. Its work in the field enabled GERES to observe that these households don’t have access to an appropriate solution to help them fund these works, whether in the public or the private sector.

In response to this emergency, the association decided to gather volunteer electricians, social workers and local NGOs together to develop a new business model allowing contractors to make a profit when renovating low-income households.

In order to build a sustainable and affordable energy improvement offering allowing households in fuel poverty to renovate their homes, GERES conducted its project using an action research approach. The project thus aims to express the needs identified in the beneficiaries’ homes, the contractors’ involvement capacities, and existing and future aids and devices. 

The project started with a first phase of needs, obstacles and opportunities analysis, as well as a benchmark of the renovation works available, in order to identify any deficiencies or possible improvements. In a second phase, GERES researched the market and non-market service offering. A survey conducted with contractors and households allowed the association to identify the existing barriers and levers, helping it to create recommendations for the development of an offering tailored to low-income households.

Benefits of the project 

As a first step, GERES analyzed, established and implemented this new business model in Marseille. The association is now sharing its experience and replicating the model nation-wide.

Project impact 

During its first year, the pilot project has helped to: 

  • Improve the living conditions of 40 households in fuel poverty (91 people)
  • Mobilize professional expertise for the development of new services: electricians, associations holding construction funds, an employment company working in the building field, an online collaborative platform, Municipal Centers for Social Action, social housing entities, a charity, and a local association. In all, more than 140 people and stakeholders contributed to or benefitted from the implementation of this project.
  • Reduce energy and water bills by €300 and save about 250 kg of CO2 on average per household and per year.

More on Geres 

Set up in Marseille in 1976 following the first oil crisis, GERES – Group for the Environment, Renewable Energy and Solidarity – is a development NGO specializing in sustainable energy and environmental protection. It has been working completely independently for more than 40 years to improve community living conditions and preserve natural resources.

With its team of more than 200 professionals, GERES develops technologies and services to build sustainable economic value chains, bringing in the human, social and cultural dimensions of its areas of operation. Based in Aubagne close to Marseille, GERES implements innovative sustainable development projects in France (primarily in the PACA region), Europe, Africa and Asia. The association initiates development and solidarity projects in the fields of energy and environment in both North and South, in partnership with local stakeholders.





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