„Practical Approaches to more energy efficiency for European Cities and Citizens“

On 24 April 2013 EnercitEE hosted a quite special dissemination event at the Committee of the Regions (CoR) Building in Brussels.

The idea of such an event was to ensure that interested European, regional and local authorities/stakeholders get to know EnercitEE, its activities and achievements and take this knowledge back to their regions. Therefore the EnercitEE partnership organised a lunch reception in connection with a meeting of one of the CoR commissions – the Commission for Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE).

The ENVE Commission allows for representatives from local and regional authorities to discuss the formulation of policies and to promote best practices in their fields of competence: Environment policy, climate change adaptation and mitigation; renewable energy, trans-European networks in the energy sector and new energy policies; and space policy. The ENVE commission cooperates with the European Commission, especially DG Environment, DG Climate Action, DG Energy (http://cor.europa.eu/en/activities/commissions/enve/Pages/enve.aspx)

The lunch reception offered EnercitEE and its project partners from Haute Savoie, Emilia Romagna, Lower Silesia, Smaland and Saxony the great possibility to give an overview of their personal commitments, ambitious tasks, challenges and outcomes of the project. Besides short statements from 5 European regions, the audience was provided with material, achievements and practical approaches from the project and the 11 sub-projects:

  • EnercitEE’s Good practice guide
  • Summaries of EnercitEE’s interregional symposia
  • Information on EnercitEE’s policy maker exchange to Växjö
  • Outputs of EnercitEE’s subprojects: the master manual for builders (LEEAN), a conception for energy saving competitions for schools (E-Foxes); guidelines on mobility management in rural areas and small cities (SustraMM); Energy Performance of Buildings Directive – implementation in 4 European Regions (RIEEB); Climate change planning for regional and local authorities (CLIPART), Contribution of students from 4 European countries to boost energy efficiency in communities (PraTLA).

More than 130 participants joint the reception and seized the opportunity to talk to EnercitEE partners about the project’s achievements. All in all a successful day for EnercitEE’s partnership – spreading the great results and valuable outcomes reached by a European cooperation network.

Dr. Gruschwitz from the Saxon Liason Office in Brussels and Werner Sommer on behalf of the Lead Partner of EnercitEE – the Saxon State Ministry of the Environment and Agriculture welcomed the audience to the lunch reception.

Werner Sommer pointed out that EnercitEE is contributing to the improvement of local and regional policies in the European Union and provides valuable assistance in the transfer of knowledge on energy efficiency and sustainable transport. Seeing the exchange of experience as essential part of the mini-programme – EnercitEE partners compiled policy instruments, examples of good practices and case studies from their regions. Therefore the outputs and results of EnercitEE, the collected good practices and strategies could now be transferred to other European regions.

To illustrate the mini-programme, structures and outcomes of EnercitEE, the newly finished animated movie of EnercitEE was shown for the first time to a greater audience.

During the following 20 minutes the audience not only got an overview of the ambitious tasks, challenges and main results of the project, but also an impression of the partner regions’ commitment. Partners from all EnercitEE regions highlighted their specific added value to EnercitEE for their region.

--- Presentation of the EnercitEE regions --- 

Arkadiusz Suliga from Lower Silesia pointed out the benefits of implementing a European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) project for Polish regional and local authorities. Polish authorities can get up to 85% co-funding from the European Union for their project-related activities, but providing the missing 15 % still remains a problem for smaller municipalities. Nevertheless a significant aspect is the knowledge and experience, which they gain over the course of a project working closely with their partners. By watching their partners they can learn from them, to e.g. avoid mistakes that otherwise would be made. Precious time, money and labour are saved in this regard. Thus, the institutions acquire experience that is also helpful in developing or amending local or regional policies to ensure that the results are “stored” for future use. And finally ETC projects are also about the promotion of regions. For many smaller Polish municipalities it is often the only way to “go abroad” and make themselves known hoping to build up cooperation networks for the future.

Communication and motivation to increase Energy Efficiency was introduced by Anne-Sophie Masure from Prioriterre in Haute-Savoie. She explained that raising awareness as well as behaviour change motivation is needed. Sharing experience and the exploration of various ways and adapted tools for good communication and motivation will help to increase energy efficiency in European regions.

Therefore it is very important to connect the profound knowledge of energy experts and communication experts. To reach such goals the subproject ActEE tests several communication tools and provides energy savings advices and education material to local actors. E-Foxes focuses on raising awareness especially among pupils to think about energy saving and efficiency. Furthermore other EnercitEE sub-projects are eager to develop trainings for municipalities – for example EEMTE with the eco event training or RIEEB with the energy efficient buildings monitoring.

Stefano Valentini from ASTER in Emilia Romagna continued with “Improving the Policies – European Good Practices for a better regional energy policy”. His main statement was that energy policies are very important but difficult to handle: both for politicians and for citizens. Because they are costly, require efforts and the benefits are coming only on medium long term. They often impose limitations and restrictions (e.g. energy efficiency in buildings). Emilia Romagna region is one of the first regions in Italy that developed its first law on energy in 2004. The region has learned a lot since then – also thanks to the territorial cooperation.

Stefano compared the development of this policy with making a meal or a cake. What you need for both is a good recipe and the right ingredients:

  • provide sound and scientific information on techniques and technology (work together with academia and experts)
  • monitor: know where you are, measure the impacts, the results, do not be afraid of making mistakes, next time you will perform better
  • get inspired :concrete examples are inspiring for you and for others, see practical implementation and results of other cities, regions, countries….
  • diffusion/contamination involve politicians and citizens in this path, make them part of the process

EnercitEE’s policy maker exchange to Växjö was presented by Gunnar Nordmark from the Regional Council of Southern Smaland. More than 30 mayors from Poland, France, Italy and Germany travelled to Växjö/Sweden in May 2012 to visit several examples of Europe’s greenest city and to exchange energy efficiency solutions at the local level. As Stefano, Gunnar also emphasized the importance of regional and local energy policies, which are an important fundament for change towards sustainability.

But also the exchange between different European regions boosts progress. Learning from each other one can take and implement the best practice from each region. Further it is essential and a key for the future to give local authorities and their citizens the opportunity to make climate smart choices. “The consequences for mankind will be terrifying if we are not able to stop climate change” concluded Gunnar. “It is time to think global and act local.”

Last but not least Christina Mante from the Saxon State Agency for Environment, Agriculture and Geology concluded the short presentation with showing the remarkable added value created by EnercitEE subprojects in Saxony, which brought Progress towards more energy efficiency. Four main thematic priorities were distinguished. The most important priority – energy efficient buildings was covered by LEEAN, EEMTE and RIEEB. Within LEEAN a so called master manual for builders was created – a folder addressed to private builders compiling all relevant information around building and refurbishment and energy efficient measures to be applied. The Subproject EEMTE trained municipal staff on how to use a passive house in terms of specific behavioral needs for heating and aeration. Also a user manual for passive house schools was created. RIEEB evaluated the implementation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) in Germany and developed policy recommendations for improvements. Further awareness raising and behavioral change, financing programs and models for energy efficiency measures and diverse local administrative practices were brought forward.