Virtuos Communities


Virtuous Communities is a Fondazione Cariplo’s program encouraging energy efficiency upgrades in public administration and nonprofits’ buildings as well as in street lighting. By facilitating local players’ investments that lead to energy savings and also reduce public spending, this program aims to reduce fossil fuel consumption and cut down CO2 emissions.


The program encourages the adoption of a virtuous energy efficiency model whereby   upgrade projects are financed through the money savings attained by reducing energy consumption. This model hinges on:

  • A Public-Private Partnership (PPP): a form of collaboration between a government entity and a private sector company to finance and implement a project for operation of infrastructure assets or provision of public benefit services;
  • An ESCO: a company engaged to implement and manage an energy efficiency project and guarantee energy savings, which are used to pay back the project
  • An Energy Performance Contract (EPC): an agreement setting out the terms and conditions of the energy efficiency project, the guaranteed energy savings and the relationship between the PPP and the ESCO.

Through the Virtuous Communities program, our Foundation pioneers an innovative way of doing philanthropy whereby beneficiaries are not given grants but are supported through technical, legal and financial assistance for the selection of an Energy Service Company (ESCO) capable of implementing the energy efficiency project through its own financial resources or third-party finance.

Assistance to beneficiaries is provided by a team of professionals selected by our Foundation and consists of a package of services which for Public Administration beneficiaries includes energy audits, assessment of needs, determination of potential investments and also preparation of public tender documents.

Another upside of the Virtuous Communities program is that it facilitates pooling of public administration entities, where possible, and creation of economies of scale, maximizing benefits in terms of reduced energy consumption and bills and abatement of emissions.

Finally, importantly, this program helps public administration entities complete energy efficiency upgrades, such as installation of building envelope thermal insulation, LED lighting or more energy efficient windows and shutters, at NO cost. Their future energy bills will be equal to or lower than their historical spending and over the years money savings from reduced energy consumption will pay for the energy efficiency project.  

Main achievements

Started in September 2017, Virtuous Communities 2017 involves 13 public administration entities which are now finalizing their projects.

Of these entities, the Milan Metropolitan Area Administration in January 2019 published the public tender for energy efficiency upgrades in 144 schools. The total estimated value of tendered works was 53 million euros.  

In aggregate Virtuous Communities 2017 aims at:

  • reducing CO2 emissions by at least 14,000 tons/year;
  • setting in motion private investments of no less than 60 million euros;
  • improving energy efficiency in 280 public buildings.

Started in September 2018, Virtuous Communities 2018 involves 11 entities, namely 10 public administrations and 1 private nonprofit organization, which recently completed their energy audits and assessment of needs.

Companies and Finance  

To build a closer dialogue with companies and financial institutions a series of meetings was organized under the program, namely:

  • meetings on technical and financial aspects (October 2018) with the participation of business organizations and institutions to discuss current and future developments in the energy efficiency market;
  • Investor day (November 30, 2018), an event held to present the Virtuous Communities program and related public tenders to businesses and entrepreneurs.