An accreditation registry

Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) can be complex, and because such contracts may last for many years, it is an infrequent activity for most buyers who are often executing a performance contract for the first time. In this context, accreditation is a valuable instrument which can facilitate the interaction between the ESCO and the buyer. A registry of accredited ESCOs provides a basis for contractor selection, with those on the registry having demonstrated the capacity to operate as an ESCO and thus increasing the assurance of future success.

The Global ESCO Network recommends that a national ESCO registry is established and that it contains at least the following information:

  • A list of accredited ESCOs with any accreditation classification they have earned
  • Performance feedback on ESCOs from users
  • Information about the process to become accredited
  • The Ethical Statement that accredited ESCOs have agreed to follow
  • ESCO primary contact information
  • A dispute resolution window

The accreditation body for the development of the registry can be either a public sector entity or a private one, for example operated by a national ESCO association. A registry maintained by a public body may provide more confidence to public sector buyers.

Several countries use accreditation as a quality assurance instrument, where being an accredited ESCO is a precondition for proposing and winning the right to perform a contract mainly in the public sector.

When accreditation is required by government oversight, it must be available to any company working as an ESCO. Further, it should be considered best practice that in order to maintain the accreditation integrity, all ESCOs must periodically re-submit for accreditation, effectively updating their ability to perform.

A registry can also help enforcing the definition of ESCO and thus the differentiation in the market between ESCOs in the registry and other service providers that do not meet the ESCO definition criteria.

Along with an accredited ESCO registry, there must be a pathway for feedback on ESCO concerns. This type of service is often termed an Ombudsman, or a person or entity that will receive concerns, evaluate the issue and provide recommendations to the registry manager.

Concerns raised against registries are that they may serve as an entry barrier to new ESCOs with no prior experience, and that any fee charged for registration serves as a tax on contracting with a public sector entity. These concerns must be balanced against the desire of the ESCO to keep and maintain accreditation as a powerful influence on market development and project dispute resolution. The first concern can be addressed either by allowing a grace-period for new entrants (with limited evaluation), by providing a gradual system of accreditation or by initially using non-ESCO projects to validate the new potential ESCO expertise and capacities. Some registries operate with a 3-tier approach. Despite the significant benefits of a registry to the EPC sector as a whole (ESCOs, clients, financing partners, etc), the second concern, fees, should be used only to cover the costs of maintaining the registry and should not be perceived as a barrier to enter the market and to maintain one position in it.