Key policy messages, conclusions and recommendations

Based on the previous chapters, the following lessons learnt, conclusions and recommendations can be drawn on for use by other regions and by policymakers and practitioners at the regional, national and European levels.

Innovative approaches

Community involvement is an effective way of bringing change. The IMEA project has made use of promoting local role models, involving local groups and provides 1:1 follow-up support with individuals who have received energy efficiency advice. This helps address the lack of information and motivation barriers.

Involving a diverse range of players promotes credibility and uptake – but it requires work on creating a ‘common language’. Involving the local supply side of energy efficiency, e.g. builders in the IMEA project, is an effective way of helping to deliver change, e.g. involving them in designing and delivering local schemes. This approach also brings credibility and dynamism to public sector led schemes. Including a wide range of players helps to promote action. This can be effectively achieved via a bottom up approach, i.e. asking each stakeholder what they want and what motivates them, as used in the RENERGY project, which involves local citizens via the Energy labs and in the PLUS project through the involvement of local authorities. This helps to create a common language between the players, so all are clear on what their objectives are and why and how their motivations fit in.

Awareness raising and behaviour change need to be target group specific, practical and carried out at the local level.  A diversity of delivery methods helps. For example, the LoCaRe project uses schools as a way of cascading information on energy efficiency within a local community, and a number of projects use targeted communication tools (videos, web based information etc.) to appeal to specific audiences (e.g. EnercitEE, IMAGINE). It is also important to recognise that there are many ways to deliver behavioural change, and many routes (e.g. media types) to influence and engage, for example, a number of projects used videos to help persuade people.

Political and local authority officer awareness often needs improving – the projects have reported that they are often willing and interested if the arguments are presented appropriately and practical tools are developed. The needs of local authority policy officers in terms of designing and implementing policies to improve energy efficiency are recognised and addressed in the REGREEN and the IMAGINE projects. This helps address the information barrier.

Recommendations to Projects

Assessing transferability is key. Projects need to evaluate the transferability of the techniques and approaches they investigate and include / develop guidance within a project on how to tailor these techniques and approaches to local needs, e.g. reflecting the timescale (as the IMAGINE project plans to) but also reflecting technical differences (as shown in the PLUS project).

Some sectors and applications are more transferable than others – energy use in public buildings appears to offer some good transferability. The SERPENTE project is focussed on this issue and while it has found that there are variable aspects in buildings across Europe, it has also found that there are many aspects where common approaches will work.

Process related approaches are often easier to transfer than technical solutions. Examples include the ways in which plans can be turned into action within the IMEA project the community involvement promoted by the EnercitEE and LoCaRe projects, and the development of local authority toolkits for developing and testing policies in IMAGINE and RE-GREEN. These approaches are focused on the administrative and institutional barriers to the uptake of energy efficiency.

Transferability is affected by the nature of the recipient - their progress and if they have a regional energy policy. The CO2FREE project reported that the more advanced regions in terms of energy efficiency take up tended to be less receptive to receiving new ideas. They also stressed the importance of having a local baseline and strategy on energy efficiency to make a partner region more likely to recognise what examples of good practice are relevant to it and better able and more likely to take them up. The benefits of a local/ regional energy plan reflect the requirements of the Covenant of Mayors programme, where signatories are obliged to produce a Sustainable Energy Action Plan.

Not everything can be readily transferred. It should also be recognised that some approaches will have important limitations on their transferability, for example GreenITNet, pointed out that local data openness polices can limit the use of traffic and travel data.

Light pilot actions are effective – but they must be resourced and the project partners must be ‘willing to fail’. The benefits of testing technologies in place, even if only on a very small scale, was mentioned by a number of projects (IMAGINE, IMEA and others). This approach helps overcome information and institutional barriers, however it was also pointed out that even a small trial is often not possible without some political commitment – which demonstrates the need to address political buy-in and the cross-cutting nature of energy efficiency – as mentioned elsewhere in these conclusions. Having political support makes it easier to try something that might not work.

Energy Services Companies (ESCOs) are an important mechanism in enabling larger scale investment in energy efficiency, particularly in the public sector – some of the projects could consider post project applications for assistance from sources such as ELENA, Convergence or national schemes. ESCOs help address the barriers of lack of available finance and can also help in addressing technical and commercial knowledge gaps within the public sector as well as the separation of expenditure and benefit/ split incentives barrier – because the initial capital outlay is reduced. Their importance is recognised in projects including STEP, REnergy, IMEA and REGREEN and in policy mechanism including the ELENA programme and others. There could be post project potential for applications to project development assistance schemes, such as ELENA and others.

Technically focused projects need expert involvement and in-depth guidance. For projects with a technically advanced focus – deep-dive visits (as used in the PLUS projects where technically knowledgeable officers from partner regions visit their peers in other partner regions) and reviews are a good idea. This approach allows technically advanced participants to evaluate good practices, show what their know and present the ‘cutting-edge’. Another example of the benefits of technically specific, but practical, advice is the guide for users of low energy school buildings promoted in the EnercitEE project. Both of these examples are concerned with addressing barriers on the credibility of energy efficiency technology.

Policy recommendations

Technology is usually not the problem – applying it in practice is the real issue. It is apparent that the majority of the projects are concerned with non-technological issues, such as awareness and finance. This reflects the continuing and increasing policy focus on these issues at EC and MS level.

Energy efficiency is a truly cross-cutting and cross-sectoral issue – so projects need to consider multiple barriers, drivers and players if they are going to have a positive effect on the uptake of energy efficiency. This is reflected in the broad scope of very nearly all of the projects and in the increasing desire in policies and programmes to consider multiple applications across a number of fields at the same time. For instance, the GreenITNet project includes a clear example of an application that combines ICT, transport and energy efficiency, which is a very good match with the European Commission’s Smart Cities and Communities (SCC) initiative. The involvement of energy businesses and the focus on raising awareness and stimulating the desire to act among local politicians, which is evident in a number of the projects, is another example of the diverse issues that are key to success.

Making European Commission energy policy locally and regionally elevant and applicable remains a genuine need – local energy strategies are a great help. Regional / local energy plans help to focus and drive the transferability and uptake of good practices. These plans need to include baselines, roadmaps, indicators, and be realistic in order to be effective. They also need to capture local strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. This experience is apparent in a number of projects including REnergy and REGREEN. Transfer works better between regions with (strategic) energy efficiency plans.

INTERREG IVC helps disseminate the results of other energy efficiency programmes. A number of INTERREG IVC projects use / promote examples funded by other EC schemes concerned with (inter alia) promoting energy efficiency, e.g. IEE, FP and LIFE+ . This approach should be viewed as positive as it produces good practice examples which should be of a certain quality (as they have received EC funding) and also helps disseminate the results and outputs of these projects to a wider audience.

Links between energy efficiency and regeneration and social inclusion are real, and bring social as well as energy benefits. This is demonstrated in the SERPENTE and IMEA projects, with their inclusion of energy efficiency in social housing and the use of local citizens as role models to encourage their peers to consider and adapt energy efficient lifestyles and choices. These benefits reflect the decision to include energy efficiency projects in structural funding – with its desire to achieve social as well as economic and environmental benefits.

Innovation can be relative, and INTERREG IVC has an important role to play in promoting transfer. It is important to recognise that the level of progress and awareness on energy efficiency varies from region to region. A key strength of the INTERREG IVC programme is arguably that it is designed to engage and support all levels of uptake, ranging from cutting-edge energy efficiency technologies (e.g. in PLUS) to the replication of well-known building energy efficiency techniques. Recognising this diversity of progress is key to addressing knowledge barriers.

The desire to save money remains a key driver for energy efficiency, although capital costs can still deter investments, especially during the downturn. Cost efficiency savings are the most important argument for the majority of people who need convincing (from politicians to companies to individuals). However, it is not the only way in which investments can be justified. Some projects pointed out that CO2 cuts can still motivate some groups. Interest in pursuing energy efficiency among local politicians and the public can be at risk of dwindling during an economic downturn, as it is seen as discretionary (i.e. not compulsory) spending with a capital outlay designed to enable future revenue savings. Moreover, many energy efficiency investments can produce very quick returns and improvements are often possible through behaviour change, which costs nothing. Educating politicians and consumers on this point is a key step in enabling energy efficiency.

Green public procurement is an effective way for the public sector to lead by example and to help create a demand and market for energy efficient products and services. This approach helps to address to the barriers of lack of awareness and technology credibility. It also illustrates the positive effect of drivers such as the potential for creating green jobs. This approach is promoted in a number of the projects, including REGREEN. SERPENTE, IMEA, IMAGINE and is also an approach that the EC is making continued efforts to promote.

Policy and practice in many areas affects energy efficiency - and can be changed to help. The example given in the GreenITNet project regarding the constraints involved in transferring energy-saving information about transport options to users, namely because of data-security concerns, highlights the fact that there is still potential for good regulation in related areas which could help enable to energy efficiency, e.g. access to data on traffic for transport planning. Another example of this issue comes from the PLUS project where health and safety guidance was found to be a constraint on energy efficiency in street lighting.

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