The bank has joined forces with the French ministry for the environment and the banking group Groupe Caisse d’Epargne to distribute the money under the government’s Haute Qualité Energie Environnement (HQEE) programme.

It will finance the construction or refurbishment of public buildings to ensure they are energy efficient and surpass the country’s current environmental building standards.

The programme is the first of its type in Europe that the European Investment Bank (EIB) has been involved in and aims to meet EU policies on climate change and energy efficiency.

Buildings such as schools, crèches, sports and leisure centres, and administrative buildings across the country will be covered under the initiative.

Groupe Caisse D’Epargne will use the EIB funds to offer specially-tailored loans to developers on favourable financial terms.

EIB vice president Philippe de Fontaine Vive, environment minister Jean-Louis Borloo, and Charles Milhaud, chairman of the management board of Caisse National des Caisses d’Epargne signed a declaration of intent committing the money to the programme in Paris on Tuesday.

The project also aims to help the French government meet its own target of having 50% of its buildings constructed to high standards of energy efficiency by 2008.

Ministers also hope the programme will speed up the implementation of the French Climate Plan.

Last year the EIB lent Euro 3billion for capital projects in the energy sector within the EU and has lent more than Euro 6billion since the beginning of 2007.

Kate Martin

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