Municipalities’ energy efficiency projects are slowed down by a lack of resources – help from engaging leadership and improving the comparability of tenders
The “Making municipalities’ energy efficiency viable” workshop in Helsinki brought together a large group of experts in the field, as well as representatives of municipalities and companies. One of the themes discussed at the workshop was the municipalities’ relatively scant resource situation in terms of energy efficiency issues. The working group discussed the typical problems surrounding the issue, and also tried to find suitable solutions for those problems.
One of the themes discussed was the limited human and budgetary resources allocated to municipalities’ energy efficiency projects. The participants were divided into groups, and one group’s discussion focused on this issue. On the basis of the discussions, a few problems were identified, to which the group also tried to find solutions.
PROBLEM: The lack of resources (workforce, time, information) prevents the implementation of energy efficiency improvement solutions in municipalities.
SUGGESTED SOLUTION: Municipalities should have a person responsible for coordinating energy and climate issues in a centralised way, like the Hinku contact persons in Hinku municipalities. In order for decisions and action to actually be taken, the leadership of the municipality must also be engaged. Municipal decision-makers need training in energy and climate issues. Longer-term goals and probable changes in legislation must also be taken into account.
PROBLEM: When a solution is offered, the representatives of municipalities may be very interested and willing to make use of it, but in the end the solution does not get implemented. Municipalities hesitate to carry out even zero-investment solutions if the future of the building is uncertain, or they are afraid of making mistakes because of a lack of information. They don’t know how to put to tender the solutions offered.
SUGGESTED SOLUTION: The solution must produce measurable results which make it easy to justify the procurement. The calculation of the savings created by different measures should be harmonised in order to make it easier to compare tenders and solutions. In some cases, making energy efficiency solutions part of some other project would make the procurement process easier.
PROBLEM: Planners can’t offer the newest solutions because they don’t know about them.
SUGGESTED SOLUTION: Planners must be trained and kept up to date. It is always worthwhile to invite the planner to be a part of the discussion with the municipality and the solution provider, so that everyone can be heard already early on.
PROBLEM: Technology develops quickly, and it is hard to keep up.
SUGGESTED SOLUTION: More resources for gathering information in order to find the best practices. A calculator maintained by a neutral party is needed to compare HVAC solutions. For example, Lahti and Lappeenranta (www.energiavalinta.fi) already have a calculator inhabitants can use to compare the savings of heating systems, in terms of energy as well as emissions.