Time to Act Now!

Using 40% of the energy consumption, buildings are Europe’s biggest energy resource. Using energy more efficiently in the building stock is therefore a key objective for polices of different fields and levels. Municipalities are the key players for improving energy efficiency at the local level. They benefit from improved energy efficiency in different ways, including reduced GHG emissions, less energy expenses, improved working and housing conditions and many more.

With this learning platform, the Act Now! project seeks to share the methodology, knowledge and experience accumulated while it built energy efficiency capacities in several Baltic municipalities. Here, municipalities will find hands-on guidance to strategically improve their abilities to plan and implement energy efficiency projects in their building stock.

Who is this Learning Platform for?

This Learning Platform is primarily aimed at the following group of people:

  1. Members of municipality staff who are directly involved in activities related to energy issues inside their administration (urban planners, staff of construction departments, collaborators from property management and financial departments, energy management and local development).
  2. Staff of cooperating institutions or private companies dealing with energy efficiency (housing companies, utilities, energy service companies, engineering companies)
How to use this Learning Platform

This Learning Platform consists of five lessons:

  • Lesson 1 covers the two fundamental ideas of the Act Now! approach: The Local Energy Efficiency Work Group (LEEG) and the concept of customized capacity building.
  • Lesson2 builds upon the previous lesson and provides a step-by-step guidance how to establish a municipal energy efficiency strategy using a LEEG and including customized capacity building.
  • Lessons 3 -5 complement Lesson 2 by elaborating important aspects of the strategy: criteria-based decision making, financing and public private partnerships.

Each lesson comes with a introduction and video to provide a quick, first insight. If you like to dig deeper, download and work through the learning material that is provided for each lesson. Wherever necessary, we provided further material like tools, templates and examples.

Additionally, all learning material, tools and templates can be found in the repository under Tools and helpful Documents.
The section Municipality Reports contains reports on the actual energy efficiency projects developed by each municipality in the Act Now! project.
Should you have any questions about this Learning Platform, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Lesson 1aLesson 1bLesson 2Lesson 3Lesson4Lesson5

Lesson 1a: Building a Work Group (LEEG)

Energy efficiency is far more than just a technical issue. Energy is consumed at different points in different buildings, and making the consumption more efficient can affect many different people in different ways. E.g. new ventilation can be a matter of health and quality of life, while saving heating cost may have a impact in social housing. In Act Now!, we believe that any effective and robust energy efficiency activity must be a joint effort of all affected parties inside and outside the local administration.

Thus, we put the Local Energy Efficiency Workgroup (LEEG) at the centre of our approach to energy efficiency. It is a group of municipal staff from different departments (technical, finance, etc.) and organisations (schools, public transport, etc.) as well as representatives of other local stakeholders (businesses, home owners, residents, etc.). Being experts on each of their fields and well acquainted with the local situation, the LEEG aggregates perspectives and knowledge that would otherwise be scattered across different parties. Therefore, the LEEG is the core organizational unit of the Act Now! approach. Establishing a LEEG should be among the very first steps before taking on energy efficiency in your municipality. Ultimately, it is the very place where all the activities suggested by Act Now! shall take place.

Learning Material for this Lesson
Read more about the challenges & benefits of establishing a LEEG, different models and example cases in chapter 5 of the Act Now! Manual.
Download the Act Now! Manual

The Act Now! Manual
From SEAP to Investment

If you want to kickstart energy efficiency in your municipality, the Act Now! Manual is your starting point. It is the core document of the Act Now! Approach of capacity building for energy efficiency in the municipal building stock. It provides the foundation necessary to proceed with the aspects covered in the four Guidelines.

Download the Manual as E-book
(PDF, 6.3 MB)

High-quality files for professional printing
(ZIP, 12.2 MB)

Lesson 1b: Customized Capacity Building

While an energy-related action plan can be established using external expertise, its execution requires substantial internal resources in terms of personnel, structures, expertise and finances. This can be overwhelming, especially (but not only) for smaller municipalities. The Act Now! Approach is help for self-help. It focuses to build internal capacities that help municipalities to sustainably plan and implement energy efficiency measures in the long-run. This enables to accumulate and cultivate the necessary expertise and networks locally.

However, there is obviously no one-size fits-all solution. Municipalities in the Baltic Sea Region and beyond are not only bound to different national legislation, but operating in highly specific local circumstances. Each of them has different administration structures and decision-making procedures, political background, local business structure, population and many more factors to take into account.

Taking this into account, we developed a methodology to identify the capacity gaps in any given municipality and derive a customized capacity building scheme to be applied.

Learning Material for this Lesson
Read how to identify and close capacity gaps for increasing energy efficiency in the municipal building stock in the Act Now! Manual chapters 3 and 4.
Download the Act Now! Manual

The Act Now! Manual
From SEAP to Investment

If you want to kickstart energy efficiency in your municipality, the Act Now! Manual is your starting point. It is the core document of the Act Now! Approach of capacity building for energy efficiency in the municipal building stock. It provides the foundation necessary to proceed with the aspects covered in the four Guidelines.

Download the Manual as E-book
(PDF, 6.3 MB)

High-quality files for professional printing
(ZIP, 12.2 MB)

Additionally, Act Now! has prepared tools and tamplates to assist your customized capacity building process. Please consult chapters 3 and 4 of the Act Now! Manual, how to apply each of the following materials.
Status Quo Questionnaire

Self-Assessment Questionnaire for Municipalities
Energy Management & Energy Strategies for Municipalities: State-of-the-Art Assessment

The questionnaire is thought to be completed by municipal administrative and operational staff in close cooperation with the energy department (energy working groups if existing) and finally approved by the municipal council.

The aim is to evaluate and understand their current situation, to identify areas of strength for building upon, and also to identify areas where improvement may be desirable or even necessary.

For further details how to use this questionnaire, see the Act Now! Manual, Chapter 3.1.

Download the empty questionnaire
(DOCX, 1.1 MB)

Download a filled-out example
(DOCX, 1.5 MB)

SWOT Analysis & Self-Assessment Tool

SWOT Analysis and quantitative self-assessment tool for Local Authorities

The SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis helps you to assess the gaps between your current status and the desired future capacities.

The quantitative self-assessment tool provides an in-depth evaluation of the energy efficiency capacities in your municipality and outputs suggestions for your capacity building schemes.

Both tools are implemented within one Excel-workbook considering requirements of the ISO 500001 energy management standard.

For further details how to use the tools, see the Act Now! Manual, Chapters 3.2 and 3.3, as well as the Act Now! Guideline „Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings“.

Download the tool (XLSX, 1.4 MB)

Detailed methodology description (PDF, 3.5 MB)

Filled-out example (XSLX, 1.4 MB)

 

Download the tool in Finnish language
(XLSX, 1.4MB)

Capacity Building Scheme Template

Capacity Building Scheme Template

This is a simple template you could use to document your customized capacity building scheme.

Download the template
(XLSX, 973 kB)

 

Lesson 2: Setting the Strategy

Increasing the capacities for energy efficiency enables a municipality to strategically tackle energy efficiency over the long-term. With the necessary know-how and organizational infrastructure, projects can be developed, implemented and evaluated systematically under a common, strategic umbrella. This ensures consistent and effective action in order to make the most of the work and money invested.

Each strategy and resulting action plan requires a different set of capacities in the executing municipality. Thus, Act Now! encourages municipalities to develop their energy efficiency capacities hand in hand with their energy efficiency strategy for buildings. We suggest an approach that combines the core-ideas of Act Now! (see Lessons 1a and 1b) with well-established procedures of strategic energy planning.

Learning Material for this Lesson
Read how to set up an energy efficiency strategy for municipal buildings in the Act Now! Guideline „Energy Efficiency Stratgey for Municipal Buildings“.
Download the Act Now! Guideline 'Energy Efficiency Stratgey for Municipal Buildings'

The Act Now! Guideline
Energy Efficiency Strategy for Municipal Buildings

This Guideline explains how to make a strategic approach to improve energy efficiency in municipalities. While this Manual focuses on the municipal capacities needed, the Guideline focuses on what a municipality should do in order to set up an energy efficiency strategy.

Download the Guideline as E-book
(PDF, 4.3 MB)

High-quality files for professional printing
(ZIP, 8.2 MB)

Best practices from the Act Now! project are reported in a separate annex, downloadable below.
Annex: Best Practices from Act Now! Municipalities

Annex
Energy Management & Energy Strategies for Municipalities: State-of-the-Art Assessment

This Annex includes reports of the best practices from the implementation of the Guideline “Energy efficiency strategy for municipal buildings” in municipalities participating in the Act Now! project.

Download the annex as E-Book
(PDF, 0.8 MB)

Lesson 3: Picking the Energy Efficiency Measures

Energy efficiency can potentially be increased at almost any point in a given building. The building envelope alone offers a multitude of options, while heating, water, electricity and ventilation are other major areas where energy consumption can be shaved off. the question is not whether energy can be used more efficiently, but where, and where first.

However, choosing the right options for your municipality is anything but trivial. Although almost any technical energy efficiency measure might help to reduce the absolute amount of energy consumed, its effectivity in relation to factors like the resources invested, GHG emission reduction, and whatever is addressed in your municipality may differ largely between options.

Act Now! proposes a thorough discussion and criteria-based evaluation process in order to identify the most effective and appropriate energy efficiency measures to be implemented with priority. This ultimately helps to make a robust decision accountable to the taxpayer.

Learning Material for this Lesson
Read how to identify the most effective energy efficiency measure for your municipality in the Act Now! Guideline „Identification of Most Effective Energy Efficiency Measure“.
Download the Act Now! Guideline 'Identification of Most Effective Energy Efficiency Measure'

The Act Now! Guideline
Identification of Most Effective Energy Efficiency Measure

This Guideline provides assistance to municipalities struggling to make their first step. Assuming a SEAP, SECAP or other strategy document is already in place, the guideline helps picking the most effective energy efficiency measure among the many options on the table. Using a system of decision criteria, the guideline helps making a robust and accountable decision.

Download the Guideline as E-book
(PDF, 3.3 MB)

High-quality files for professional printing
(ZIP, 6.1 MB)

Lesson 4: Financing

A successful energy efficiency strategy does not only require good project management, but also financial resources. Energy efficiency often comes with constructional measures in the building envelope or technical installations, and therefore involves considerable investments. Given that many municipalities suffer from tight budgets, finding secure and sufficient financing for energy efficiency measures is critical for any strategic approach to the topic.

Most commonly, municipalities apply for public support programs for sustainable energy activities. However, this also means that municipalities tend to only pursue projects that are eligible for funding by regional and national governments as well as the European Union. Act Now! encourages municipalities to go off this beaten track and explore different, innovative financing models that suit their needs.

In this lesson, we would like to provide a introduction into the wide spectrum of financing methods, including private investments, community energy and crowdfunding, contracting models and more.

Learning Material for this Lesson
Download the Act Now! Guideline 'Financing of Energy Efficiency Projects'

The Act Now! Guideline
Financing of Energy Efficiency Projects

This Guideline takes a closer look on the financial dimension of energy efficiency in municipalities. It provides introduction to the basic principles of financial considerations such as appraisal methods and financing options.

Download the Guideline as E-book
(PDF, 5.6 MB)

High-quality files for professional printing
(ZIP, 10.2 MB)

Lesson 5: Unlocking the Private Sector

The private sector may seem out of reach for municipal efforts towards energy efficiency, at the first glance. However, representing the vast majority of the local building stock, the potential for energy saving and GHG emission reduction is many times greater than in the municipal properties alone. Act Now! recommends to unlock this potential by strategically develop PPPs (public private partnerships).

The Act Now! approach takes into account that PPPs require time and effort to mature. Mutual trust and shared vision among municipality and private sector can only be established and translated into action by careful development.

This lesson introduces a step-by-step model to establish PPPs facilitated by the LEEG (see Lesson 1a) in your municipality. It helps you to address private homeowners, housing associations, private rental homes, companies, utilities and sports facilities alike.

Learning Material for this Lesson
Download the Act Now! Guideline 'Public Private Partnerships'

The Act Now! Guideline
Public Private Partnerships

This Guideline describes, how the municipality can unlock the vast energy efficiency potential of the local private sector. It explores the courses of action municipalities have in order to engage with private stakeholders. Following the idea of the customer journey, it proposes a step-by-step approach to successfully scale up private retrofit activities through public private partnerships.

Download the Guideline as E-book
(PDF, 5.8 MB)

High-quality files for professional printing
(ZIP, 11.5 MB)