Local communities have many key roles in energy efficiency. They are large energy consumers via municipally owned buildings (e.g. public administration, schools, hospitals) and facilities (e.g. street lighting). They are often owners or co-owners of energy companies supplying e.g. electricity, district heating and gas. Furthermore they are often owners of a social housing stock. In European legislation municipalities are expected to set a good example and show leadership in energy efficiency, as evidenced, for example, in requirements toward local authorities in the Energy Services Directive (2006/32/EC) and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2002/91/EC).
Typical barriers of local communities are:
- Tight public budgets (large indebtedness) that do not allow for major investments in energy savings measures
- Conflicting interests e.g. between investments in energy savings measures (e.g. refurbishment of public schools) and investments in the cultural or social sector; attention is often diverted to other, more pressing concerns than energy savings
- Bureaucratic fragmentation, separate budgeting for energy savings investments and related operating costs (that might be lowered through such investments)
- Lack of trained staff, low status of energy or facility managers
- n many municipalities, dependence on income from energy sales (e.g. to cross-subsidise public transport)
These challenges give rise to a number of opportunities that should be considered when targeting municipalities in demand-side management (DSM) programmes:
- Consider other financial tools, such as ESCOs, third-party financing and energy performance contracting
- Energy management should be organised on a systemic level, including appointing a responsible energy manager, and creating separate budget for energy saving investments and creation of a savings programme
- Monitoring, auditing and/or metering of energy consumption in public buildings and by facilities
- Integration of energy efficiency into urban planning.
- The provision of advice and education, awareness-raising campaigns, and the development of partnerships with local residents and business, energy agencies and other government agencies
- Regular feedback to electorate