Surpassing Energy Targets through Efficient Public Buildings

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Energy efficiency in Upper Silesia

Interview with Dawid Kostempski, President of the board of Metropolitan Association of Upper Silesia, Mayor of Świętochłowice.

SERPENTE Project: What are the discussions about Energy efficiency in your region?
Dawid Kostempski: The discussions are focused on the problems associated with coordination of local energy policy and its implementation and the newly introduced Act on the energy performance of buildings. This Act defines the provisions regarding preparation of  energy performance certificate, control system of heating and air conditioning in buildings,  keeping the central register of energy performance and the development of a national action plan aimed at increasing the number of buildings with low energy consumption.

The number one subject in the cities of Metropolis, as well as other municipalities in Poland is however a low emission. And energy planning system in Poland is unsatisfactory and still leaves much to be desired.Therefore, in response to the urgent need to improve the implementation of activities related to the low-carbon economy in the municipalities, the leading Polish organizations dealing with this subject, such as The Polish National Energy Conservation Agency and The Foundation for Efficient Energy Use, formed the Coalition for the Establishment of the National Sustainable System of Energy Management.

Some of Silesia Metropolis’ cities joined the Coalition: Jaworzno, Chorzów, Mysłowice, Sosnowiec, one of the meetings of the Coalition took place in Katowice in June this year and was combined with a meeting of SERPENTE project stakeholders.  This meeting was an excellent opportunity to exchange experiences between  different units interested in energy efficiency in Poland.

In 2007 the EU member states committed themselves to achieving by 2020 and the so called 20/20/20 rule (20% reduction in energy consumption, 20% reduction of Greenhouse gases, 20% share of renewable energy). National indicative energy efficiency targets taken together show that currently the EU is not on track to achieve the energy efficiency goal. How do you face that in your region?

20/20/20 initiative is quite essential for cities of "Silesia" Metropolis, since it is an opportunity to improve air quality through the implementation of energy efficiency initiatives.
All of Metropolis cities undertake actions to reduce emission, and one of the cities i.e.  Dąbrowa Górnicza  joined the Covenant of Mayors (in 2012). This city has already adopted the Action Plan on Sustainable Energy in order to achieve this goal.
Other cities also try to implement the EU provisions , but it is not easy. Most energy saving initiatives are very cost consuming, and the cities of Metropolis, which are degraded by industrial activity, particularly mining, does not have sufficient financial resources to be spent on this type of projects.
However, of course, attempts are being made.  Katowice (the largest city of Metropolis and the capital of Silesian Province) has developed a low-carbon economy plan for 2014-2020.
The document - after collecting all accessible efficiency projects - assumes reduction of  CO2 emissions by 4.3% by 2020, which will cost over 500 million euro, as a city wide investment  (including more than 35 million from the budget of the city of Katowice). Achieving 20% reduction is simply not possible due to lack of sufficient funds.

What kind of incentive can be used in your region to quicken the process up towards energy efficiency?

It seems that financial incentives are the most desirable for an effective awareness campaign, education, and most of all, for the introduction of technical solutions that can reduce energy consumption in public buildings. Financial incentives may be direct or indirect, e.g. 50/50 initiative, where students in exchange for energy savings received an award. However, the accelerating factor of all changes is the economic factor.

What are the biggest advantages or obstacles of the energy efficiency investments in your region?

Currently, the main source of low emission is the transport and residential buildings, including public buildings, mostly historical buildings or from the nineteenth century. Therefore, in the cities of Metropolis, the biggest challenge in this range is to connect these buildings to district heating network and to eliminate old coal furnaces and replace them with other source of heat.
The real difficulty is to ensure the sustainability of this project, enabling the residents to meet the bills for heat. Our cities, although getting richer still have to combat the energy poverty.

How has the approach to the energy efficiency changed during the last five years in your region?

In the last five years in "Silesia" Metropolis there was a significant increase in public awareness of reducing energy consumption. The financial resources from EU aid schemes, as well as from national funds (e.g. National or Regional Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management) contributed to those changes. These funds are spent on public education in this field and the implementation processes of thermal modernization of the buildings.

The change can also noticed in the quality of new buildings that have been recently built in  Silesia Metropolis. Modern buildings use energy-saving technologies. It is worth mentioning that the first passive building in Europe was built here in Katowice. It is the building of the Upper Silesian Industrial Park, which encouraged other investors to implement similar initiatives.

On the other hand when it comes to local administration, in some cities of Metropolis, the increase of awareness and knowledge of energy efficiency contributed to creation of special teams or at least a single post of energy engineer, i.e. a person or people responsible for energy planning in cities and energy management in public buildings. Local government administration, with its exemplary role within the scope of energy efficiency, more and more frequently aims for modern solutions during the construction or modernization of public buildings. And so in the last five years in the Metropolis new buildings, partially powered by solar energy, were constructed, covered with green roofs  or equipped with LED lighting systems.

Why do you think projects like Serpente are worth participating in?

The participation of Metropolitan Association of Upper Silesia  in SERPENTE project contributed to increasement of energy saving knowledge, but also enabled the exchange of information about different methods of electrical energy efficiency in public buildings.

For us, significant benefit of the project was the ability to organize 7 thematic meetings: workshops, seminars and training sessions. We have also organized an international conference with the participation of visitors from project partner in Bordeaux, France.

The figures  speak for themselves: in total  these events were attended by approx. 280 people: managers of public buildings and those responsible for shaping of the urban energy policy.
We cannot disregard the significance  of direct participation of a number of local government employees  in the meetings during the project. The exchange of experiences during meetings with other partners of the Project, as well as among different cities of Silesia Metropolis and conducted training contributed to undertaking a number of measures to reduce consumption of electricity and heat in buildings. The most significant of these are in Sosnowiec, where all preschool and school buildings were connected by one computer system of energy management  and in Katowice, Jaworzno, Mysłowice and Tychy, where a number of measures were introduced  to verify the ordered power of electricity and heat and a few cities initiated electronic monitoring of energy consumption to capture the potential loses and causes of malfunction .

The elaboration of Context Analysis, during the project,  for Silesia Metropolis was really significant. Collected data concerning legal, financial, organisational and technical aspects regarding energy planning and management in the cities allowed to recognise our strengths and weaknesses.

Collected good practises in the field of thermal modernization of public utility buildings convinced us that we have some good practices here, and identified shortcomings enable to plan the activities for upcoming years. It is particularly important when entering the financial perspective and it proved the possibility to apply for UE funds. 

What do you expect to happen in the future in the field of energy efficiency in Europe?

The future of energy efficiency initiative is considered in the context of close financial perspective. We are pleased that the Regional Operational Programme for Silesian Province for the years of 2014-2020 was a priority on energy efficiency and low emission limitation.I think that cities will go after these funds during the "fight" with low emissions. Measures dedicated to local government units for thermal modernization of public buildings are extremely important. But taking into account that the program also envisages connecting buildings to district heating and green transport, including the development of a network of cycle routes, it seems that, at the end of the current perspective, Silesia Metropolis  has a chance to get closer to the idea of green cities. I do hope that the fastest changes will appear in ecological awareness of our region, what clearly influences the intensification of actions connected with energy efficiency improvement.

Thank you.

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