Local authorities can choose between many opportunities to increase their energy efficiency, reduce energy costs and protect the climate. Different kinds of measures, technologies or operative processes are available to achieve positive results. It is not easy to maintain the overview and identify all possible actions. What has been achieved? Where is still room for improvement? How to discover and develop unused potentials?
For this purpose, the European Energy Award (EEA) provides effective support in Europe for many years. The quality management and certification system for regions and municipalities follows a systematic approach in achieving continual improvements in energy efficiency, energy use and consumption as well as climate protection. It supports local authorities to establish expedient planning approaches and implements effective energy and climate policy measures.
End of 2014, 1,346 municipalities are taking part in Europe. The overall population of participating municipalities is about 40 million people. The European Energy Award is proposed to improve and bring recognition of efforts and results relating to climate protection and energy efficiency with a long-term view. It also helps to translate the national goals efficiently into local policy recommendations and offers guidance for municipalities to achieve maximum efficiency in their measures. Energy targets can be identified, defined and achieved within the structured EEA process.
To improve the energy sustainability and climate protection, six spheres of activity are covered. This includes mobility, internal organisation, cooperation and communication, supply and disposal, buildings and facilities as well as development and spatial planning strategies. An external advisor supports participating municipalities and offers organisational and technical support throughout the process. EEA advisors are qualified energy consultants which are accredited by the national EEA organisation.
Certified municipalities can use of the award for local marketing purposes. It encourages other municipalities to take part and drive forward climate protection. The active members of participating countries are Austria, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Monaco, Liechtenstein, and Italy. Pilot countries are Ukraine, Romania and Morocco. The smallest participating municipality is Chamios and the largest is Cologne. The European Energy Award originates from Switzerland and is organised on an international, national and local level.
The entire EEA process includes the following steps:
Step 1: High level commitment
Step 2: Energy team formation
Step 3: Initial energy review
Step 4: Energy policy programme
Step 5: Project implementation
Step 6: Auditing
Step 7: Certification and Award
Similar to other management systems, the European Energy Award is based on a continuous improvement process. Every four years the activity programme will be evaluated and adjusted. The evaluation is carried out with a standardized catalogue which consists 79 climate and energy measures. Every measure can be awarded with a certain number of points. The amount of achievable points depends on the degree of implementation of a measure. The relationship between the achieved points and the total number of achievable points of the 79 measures leads to the degree of fulfilment. At least 50 percent of the achievable points are required to get certified with the European Energy Award. A municipality is certified under the European Energy Award Gold with at least 75 percent or more of the achievable points. Appropriate incentives to drive forward climate protection and energy efficiency measures. The system is comparable with building certification programs like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or Green Star in Australia.