Many municipalities want to make their energy supply substantially independent from fossil energy in terms of heat, electricity and mobility while at the same time retaining value-adding activities, income and jobs in the region. As part of klimaaktiv, e5 provides consultancy and certification services to towns and municipalities that are committed to energy transition and climate protection. A network of highly qualified e5 advisors and a standardised rating scheme across Europe make it easier for the e5 municipalities to define measures in six central core areas of operation and also to allow their progress to be rated by independent experts.
“e” stands for energy
The e5 programme was developed by Energieinstitut Vorarlberg during the 1990s based on the Swiss “Energiestadt” (energy town) model. In 2004, the federal states which were already participating, i.e. Salzburg, Tirol and Vorarlberg, in partnership with klimaaktiv, formed a national e5 office to develop and disseminate the programme across Austria. 20 percent of Austrians now live in e5 municipalities and regions, and seven out of nine Austrian federal states are participating in the programme.
The “e” in e5 stands for energy. The higher the implementation level for energy and climate protection measures in a municipality or town, the greater is the number of “e” awarded – much like stars in the restaurant industry.
The awarding follows a standardised audit and certification process so that there is an objective measure available for the work in the municipalities across Austria. Yearly accounting by e5 demonstrates regularly what the municipality has achieved in terms of energy and climate protection. The more measures have been implemented from the e5 set of measures, the better the rating. The municipality is rated as a minimum every three years by an independent commission.
The six areas which municipalities are required to address in the e5 programme are:
- Municipal development and spatial planning strategy
- Municipal buildings and facilities
- Supply & disposal: energy, water, waste water, waste
- Internal organisation
- Raising awareness, motivation, communication and cooperation
To participate in e5, the municipality signs a basic agreement with the agency delivering the e5 programme in the respective federal state. In this agreement, the municipality commits itself to the principles and rules of the programme. In return, it receives technical and organisational support and advice from the respective agency delivering the e5 programme. Subsequently an e5-team is set up which is responsible for implementing the programme in the municipality. This team works independently from political parties and consists of the municipality’s administrative members, committed citizens, experts, business representatives, environmentalists, etc. In the first step, the e5-advisor checks by referring to a set of measures which opportunities for improved energy use are already being implemented in the municipality. The findings from this analysis and the resulting profile of strengths and weaknesses form the basis for the e5 team’s further work.
Europe-wide success story
Austrian communities taking part in the e5 programme for energy-conscious municipalities are automatically part of the “European Energy Award” programme – the European e5 counterpart, which evolved in 2004 from the Austrian e5 and Swiss “Energiestadt” (energy town) programmes. If more than half of all possible measures to increase energy efficiency, supply renewable energy and for climate protection have been implemented, the municipality is awarded the “European Energy Award”. Where a municipality actually manages to implement more than 75 percent of all potential energy and climate-related measures, it is awarded the “European Energy Award Gold”. In 2017 as many as 19 Austrian municipalities out of a total 122 European municipalities already held the gold European Energy Award – Austria is therefore among the front-runners in Europe. The target at present is for half of all Austrians to be living in e5 municipalities and regions by 2025.