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Recap of the event ‘Accelerate energy renovation for low-income households’, sponsored by Mirova Foundation and Watt For Change

To mark France’s national week of actions to combat fuel poverty, Mirova Foundation and Watt For Change, VALOREM endowment fund, organised an event dedicated to this theme. Held on Monday the 20th of November 2023, the winners of our joint call for projects launched in June 2023 were also unveiled at this time.

Opening speech

A conversation between Philippe ZAOUATI, CEO of Mirova and Chairman of Mirova Foundation and Pierre GIRARD, Chairman of Watt For Change:

It was in 2021 that Watt For Change and Mirova set up their first partnership to fight fuel poverty in France and promote access to energy worldwide. Since then, the partners previously launched an initial call for projects, focusing on energy-efficient home renovation for low- and very low-income homeowners which resulted in funding for around 15 associations. Today, the partnership with the Mirova Foundation endowment fund has taken a bold step forward, with a call for projects amounting to €1.5 million over three years. Projects to combat fuel poverty take time to be implemented effectively, which is why, by joining forces and pooling their expertise, Mirova Foundation and Watt For Change want to help local players and support their projects over the long term. The aim is also to build collective momentum that can increase resources in the future and finance more solutions to accelerate energy renovation for the most vulnerable.


Overview of fuel poverty in France by Maïder OLIVIER, Advocacy Officer at the Fondation Abbé Pierre.

‘Fuel poverty is on the rise and now is not the time to reduce our efforts.’

Key figures:

  • 26% of French people suffered from the cold in 20231
  • Nearly 700,000 homes had been renovated thanks to MaPrimeRénov’ at end 2022, but only 10% of these are comprehensive renovations.
  • 66,000 homes had been fully renovated by end 2022, however, this is far below the National Low-Carbon Strategy target of 370,000 very efficient renovations2
  • In 2022, there 254,000 households lacked access to energy due to unpaid bills. The Fondation Abbé Pierre has made a commitment alongside EDF to put an end to electricity cuts by ensuring access to a minimum power supply3

Round-table discussion ‘Accelerating energy renovation for the severely disadvantaged: challenges and solutions’

What can we learn from these discussions?

Carine DE BOISSEZON, EDF Chief Impact Officer:
‘For 30 years, solidarity has been at the heart of the Group’s policy, through local advisers who are understand people’s actual needs.’
‘Today, our challenge is to ensure that existing tools are actually used and to find solutions for scaling up efficient renovations, which is why we have partnered with an Ashoka fellow business, the Réseau Eco Habitat. As a result, €15 million has been earmarked to finance these solutions over 15 years.’

Anne BRINGAULT, Head of Programmes at Climate Action Network – France:
‘Climate change is having a very visible impact in France, with the heatwaves of recent summers and households suffering from fuel poverty in winter, struggling to keep warm and going without heat. These are often the same people who live in homes that become totally unliveable in the summer. There is a need to insulate these homes. It’s essential that we adapt these homes to the new climatic conditions’.
‘Who today can afford to renovate their home? The most affluent households. We need to develop renovation solutions that are accessible to the most disadvantaged households.
‘We need to escape this dilemma which pits the end of the month against the end of the world, by encouraging an increase in energy vouchers and subsidies for out-of-pocket expenses. When it comes to supporting low-income households, public authorities still find it hard to go all the way, so we need private players to supplement this funding.

Sylvain LE FALHER, Co-founder of Hello Watt:
‘Individuals currently receive very little support on issues relating to their homes and access to energy, and it’s very difficult to get reliable information to help them carry out the work.’‘Fuel poverty is a subject we are familiar with, through feedback from our customers who have the Hello Watt application. Access to information about their home’s energy consumption is the first step towards energy renovation.

Vincent LEGRAND, Chairman of Dorémi:
‘A third of all our energy consumption in France is used to heat our buildings. The fact is that we heat a building because it leaks, and if we put in heating it’s to compensate for the building’s losses. The challenge is to plug these leaks and get out of the heat leakage zone.
‘There is a distinction to be made between precarity and extreme precarity:

  • Precarity: household under stress, not in crisis, we can still put together a financial package that allows us to take out a loan (repayment of a 0-rate loan).
  • Extreme precarity: bills not paid, household has no heating—more than one million households in France are in this situation.’

Announcement of the winners of the call for projects

Presentation by Virginie JOYEUX, Head of the Watt For Change endowment fund and Anne-Claire ROUX, Executive Director of Mirova Foundation.

The selected associations work with households experiencing fuel poverty, providing everything from comprehensive support to solutions for financing the unsubsidised portion of costs related to renovation work.

  • Beneficiaries: over 1,000 households concerned
  • Geographic area covered: mainland France and overseas territories (Mayotte)

ALEC 07 – Ardèche Local Energy and Climate Agency
Ardèche Department of France
An association that helps low-income households limit their energy and water consumption to save money, has been chosen for its project, which aims to provide comprehensive support for energy efficiency renovation (including supported DIY renovation) to 24 low-income and very low-income households.
‘Alec 07 is the point of entry for all households with questions about energy renovation in the Ardèche. Thank you for providing us with the human and technical resources to set up these initiatives with other players in the region.’Philibert SABATON, Rénofuté Advisor

Somme Department of France
: This association, which aims to combat social exclusion linked to poor housing, has been chosen for its project to set up a scheme offering comprehensive support to 24 very low-income households in fuel poverty in the Somme department, assisting them in renovating their homes to make them more energy efficient.
‘Social support for households is essential, and this is coupled with technical support, adapted to the reality of the building, depending on the work planned. We need to develop a social engineering mission to coordinate all the stages of the project, with the aim of achieving €0 remaining costs, to avoid projects coming to a standstill because the homeowner doesn’t have the additional €5,000 needed’Philippe DUVERGER, Energy Renovation Project Manager

COMPAGNONS BATISSEURS NATIONAL – Project voted ‘Coup de cœur’ by Mirova and VALOREM employees
An association that provides support for households living in unsuitable or substandard housing, to help them escape fuel poverty and remain in their homes. The organisation was chosen for its project aimed at promoting and developing supported DIY renovation by training professionals, to provide overall support for 15 to 20 low-income and very low-income households and set up a works fund throughout France.
‘We’re convinced that we need to place actual people at the heart of home renovation. Thank you very much for supporting us in this project. The ‘Compagnons Bâtisseurs’ has been around for 65 years, and our movement has developed over the years to comprise 14 regional entities that will implement this project in regional France and strengthen our structure.’Alexandre LAGOGUÉ, Managing Director

Gironde Department of France
an association working to promote the energy transition, access to renewable energy, energy saving and eco-construction in the Gironde region, CREAQ was chosen for its project to support 40 low- and very low-income households in fuel poverty and to launch exploratory work in view to establishing a network of solidarity-based craftsmen in the Gironde region…‘We have been supported since 2019 by Watt For Change, and this latest funding will allow us to strengthen our organisation, particularly on the health axis, to ensure that renovations do not damage the health of occupants and allowing us to move towards use of renewable energy and bio-sourced materials.’Nathalie DUVIELLA, Director

an association whose aim is to help preserve the environment, limit climate change and improve living conditions for people in France and abroad. The aim of the project is to set up a programme to help 12 very low-income homeowners in the Marseille area carry out comprehensive energy renovation of their homes, and to develop technical adaptation solutions for the Mediterranean climate.
‘Thank you for your long-term support, which has enabled us to investigate solutions and test options in terms of summer comfort and to learn from these experiments thanks to the support of 12 highly motivated households.’Marie-Noëlle REBOULET, President of GERES

SECOURS CATHOLIQUE – Poitou Delegation
Deux Sèvres and Vienne departments of France
an association that fights fuel poverty and helps people renovate their homes, ‘Secours Catholique’ was chosen for its project to set up a new association dedicated to combating fuel poverty that will network with other associations in the Deux-Sèvres and Vienne administrative departments. The aim of the project is to provide support to 30 low- and very low-income owners of their primary residence.
‘Since 2018, we’ve been working to fight fuel poverty, and thanks to your support, we’re going to be able to shift up a gear with the creation of a dedicated association to structure this approach and scale it by eventually taking on two additional staff’. Pierre GUILLOT, Energy Poverty Officer

Territory: Mayotte
Presentation: an association dedicated to ensuring that all households have access to decent, affordable, energy-efficient and appropriate housing on the island of Mayotte, Soliha Mayotte was chosen for its project to facilitate access to energy-efficient home renovation by providing additional support to 120 low-income and very low-income owner-occupants and reducing the unsubsidised costs of renovation work.
‘Mayotte is the poorest department in France, with a full 77% of the population living below the poverty line. That makes it a priority to go a step further by helping households tackle fuel poverty at home in ways suited to a tropical environment.’Frédérique DEBRUILLE, Head of Innovation and Fundraising, Fédération Soliha

an association whose aim is to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged by renovating their homes, and to promote energy renovation on a mass scale, ‘Stop Exclusion Energétique’ was chosen for its project to expand a fund dedicated to financing the unsubsidised renovation costs for 800 low-income and very low-income households in France.
‘It’s our role to bring the ecosystem together and get everyone working together. Thanks to your support, we will be able to create and staff a new position and develop our business.’ – Gilles BERHAULT, Managing Director

Concluding remarks

Witold MARAIS, a member of Mirova Foundation Investment Committee and Investment Director at Mirova, concluded the event by reminding the audience of the importance for both Mirova Foundation and Watt For Change of offering comprehensive support and providing long-term resources to associations, in particular by financing structural costs and field projects.

This joint call for projects with Watt For Change is fully in line with Mirova’s strategy of financing the energy transition. The total of 1.5 million euros over 3 years to support solutions to help the most modest households with energy renovation is at once a great deal of money, and very little. Much more is needed to meet these challenges, and we need other private-sector players to join us and expand our approach.

Learn more about our partnership

Mirova Foundation and Watt For Change partnership

1 Fondation Abbé Pierre: State of poor-housing
2 The French Court of Auditors, 2023: Support for housing facing climate change and the aging of the population
3 Fondation Abbé Pierre: Despite the energy crisis, the number of power cuts is finally decreasing