4 years of cooperation – EnercitEE partner regions reflect on their experiences

Reflections from Småland, Sweden

Working together with other regions really opens your eyes. Swedes have a tendency to think they already have the best solutions and systems. In EnercitEE we learned a lot about new solutions and methods and also compared policies. For example we realised that the Swedish building regulation is unbelievably weak compared to other countries and it was even questioned if it complies the building directive.
Another eye-opener was the well-developed communication projects that were introduced as sub-projects to EnercitEE. The exchange of information and experience in the sub-projects really made us take a big leap forward. The sub-projects were also an efficient way to make local level participate in EU-projects, which they normally find too difficult to administrate. In EnercitEE, we could assist them.
The Good Practice Guide has become an important source of information and inspiration in the region. Another important tool for the local level is the Handbook on climate planning that was developed in one of the sub-projects. It shows how to plan both for mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
It has also been very interesting to learn more about the situation in different countries and we realise how important the structural funds are to bridge the gaps and make EU more coherent.

To look over the edge - benefits from interregional cooperation in Saxony

To learn from other European regions and to share existing knowledge - this was Saxony´s motivation to participate in an INTERREG IVC project. A four year project provides excellent opportunities to work intensively on the topic chosen. Further, as EnercitEE was established as a mini-program, it allowed accompanying several sub-projects which further focussed on specific topics related to energy efficiency and climate change, for instance communication on energy efficiency, low energy buildings, training or incentives.

Amongst other topics, Saxony´s field of competence within EnercitEE “energy efficient buildings” was successfully evolved and existing know-how transferred to other regions by experience exchange on partner and on sub-project level.
Many Saxon municipalities were encouraged by EnercitEE to further strive towards more energy efficiency or to set this topic on their agenda in the first place. The following numbers illustrate the broad effect, EnercitEE had with its many activities in whole Saxony: 26 municipalities and 3 rural districts, 2 universities and the Saxon Energy Agency were directly involved either as a partner in one of the ten sub-projects Saxony participated in or as actor being trained etc. More than 1.660 people participated in workshops; public information events, seminars and study visits and more than 20 publications, guidelines and training materials were developed.

Discussion with Saxon Sub-Project Participants during the Regional Final Event on 13 June 2013 (left)
Saxon municipalities directly involved in EnercitEE activities (right)
Activities and results proven successful within EnercitEE are included into the action plan of the combined Saxon Energy and Climate Program or municipal strategies. Additionally, some of them will be considered during setting up the framework for the new European funding period 2014-2020 on regional level. EnercitEE´s great success in Saxony will endure beyond the project´s duration: many initiatives that have been started within a sub-project will be continued and further developed - a long lasting effect as a sign of a valuable and fruitful project!

Reflections from Lower Silesia:

When the region of Lower Silesia was asked a couple of years ago to participate in a joint application for an INTERREG IVC project on energy efficiency, nothing was really clear and easy. Back then mini-programs were a mystery and Lower Silesian municipalities looked at the energy-related initiatives with a lot of suspicion. So we felt there was definitely hard work before us.
Now, towards the end of the project, we can strongly say that we succeeded. We managed to involve Polish municipalities in eight different sub-projects, providing them with co-financing and guidance throughout the duration, to reach tangible and lasting results. Regional and local policies were highly influenced by recommendations generated either by sub-projects or external experts taking part in project seminars. Various meetings, e.g. working groups, interregional symposia, study visits and training sessions, helped to bring people together to confront their own views and get acquainted with new solutions, as there is nothing better than personal contact. The project also produced different useful publications, of which the Good Practice Guide and the Final Handbook are especially noted.

The quality of cooperation is another story. The longer the project’s duration, the more probable that something might go wrong. Fortunately, this was not the case with EnercitEE as all the partners were very open and willing to help at all times. There was always opportunity to learn something from each other, which kept the cooperation running at high level. Undoubtedly, the project effort was well worth it. We have the impression EnercitEE is really paving the way for Lower Silesian local authorities to undertake energy efficiency activities in international partnership with EU funds. Our feedback is that the municipalities will definitely look there for potential ventures and inspiration. Being the regional authority, that seems the biggest achievement for us. From an uncertainty, a lack of knowledge and the doubt to comprehension, we reached appreciation and involvement. We surely have gone a long way.