Elbasan's Pilot City Activity - GreenElb: Green and Sustainable Energy in Elbasan Buildings

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Background

Elbasan’s first greenhouse gas emissions inventory, conducted in 2023, shows that 28.3% of emissions are from energy consumption in buildings and 15.9% from non-electric energy, with 96.8% of emissions specifically attributable to private residential buildings. This high proportion not only contributes to climate change but also poses a significant financial burden on residents due to elevated energy costs.

Elbasan faces the following barriers to retrofitting buildings:

  • Institutional – inadequate financial resources for climate initiatives, insufficient cooperation between public and private sector and other stakeholders impeding the development of comprehensive strategies;
  • Structural – absence of business models, financing mechanisms, overburden of users with high energy costs and low investment profitability hindering large-scale retrofitting projects;
  • Technical – lack of consistent data collection and analysis, lack of knowledge and understanding in implementing modern technical solutions, low awareness of policy frameworks;
  • Socio-economic and educational – low public awareness of the need for decarbonisation, social resistance, low awareness of benefits of retrofitting, low community participation in decision-making processes.

To overcome these challenges, GreenElb proposes a set of innovative solutions including establishing strong partnerships, implementing financial mechanisms (for example, green bonds), fostering a sandbox policy approach, improving data collection, enhancing technical expertise and utilising advanced tools such as Fraunhofer EPC software for informed decision-making. Furthermore, GreenElb seeks to understand human behaviour and cultivate a culture of sustainability through stakeholder engagement and training programs. By integrating participatory budgeting principles into the decision-making process, GreenElb seeks to empower the community to embrace energy-saving practices and actively participate in decarbonisation efforts.

The pilot will focus in the Vullnetari neighbourhood, one of the city’s most vulnerable areas, facing social, accessibility and energy efficiency issues.

Description of Activities

GreenElb’s activities approach integrates cutting-edge technologies, expert analysis and community engagement to optimise energy consumption in buildings.

  • Fraunhofer EPC software for diagnosis and assessment to create digital representations of the built environment of the Vullnetari neighbourhood, improving data collection and promoting informed decision-making.
  • Development of customised retrofit packages and guidebook, ensuring cross-sectoral engagement and systemic implementation of energy-efficient measures across diverse building typologies.
  • Designing business models to support retrofitting initiatives, including comprehensive analysis of market dynamics, regulatory frameworks and funding mechanisms.
  • Conducting a scientific study on human behaviour and energy consumption patterns to understand behavioural interventions for promoting energy efficiency.
  • Designing a Sandbox Energy Efficiency Regulation as a testing ground for innovative regulatory frameworks to foster collaborative development in energy efficiency policies, drawing upon behavioural research insights and best practices.
  • Developing a community leadership model, engaging youth volunteer observers, serving as ambassadors of energy and leading participatory budgeting principles into the decision-making process.
  • Training sessions on energy efficient technology, policy and decision making and community energy assessment.

Objective

To retrofit energy-inefficient buildings, turning them into nearly zero-emission buildings, thus significantly reducing their contribution to the city’s energy consumption and carbon footprint.

Are the pilot activities building upon or part of a previous and/or existing activity?

Elbasan has been actively engaged in advancing energy efficiency and sustainability through a range of initiatives. For example, conducting audits  on public education buildings to identify areas of improvement. Additionally, it has executed projects to reconstruct buildings facades with insulation systems and integration of solar panels. It has also taken proactive steps to facilitate the adoption of renewable energy technologies, particularly through simplification of procedures for photovoltaic panels installation.

Moreover, Elbasan is in the process of finalising its Sustainable Energy and Climate Actin Plan (SECAP), underscoring the municipality’s commitment to address climate change by introducing mitigation and adaptation measures.

Detailed measures have included installing photovoltaic panels and energy efficient lighting with LED lamps on Unaza and Rinia Streets, which at the same time also serves as a promenade for the residents. From the installation of the new lighting system with 71 LED lamps, 125,000 kWh of energy will be saved per year, which equates to financial savings of €14,330. While the system with 36 photovoltaic panels installed in the Ymer Tola dormitory building has generated 25,000 kWh this year equating to €2,800 in revenue. Such projects aim to increase awareness of the benefits that come from the use of renewable energies as well as the environmental education of the community, especially for young people. In addition, 15kWh of photovoltaic capacity is being installed in schools in the municipality.

Which emissions domains will the pilot activities address?

  • Consumption of electricity generated for buildings, facilities, and infrastructure

  • Consumption of non-electricity energy for thermal uses in buildings and facilities (e.g., heating, cooking, etc.)

Systemic transformation – levers of change the pilot activities will exploit

  • Technology/Infrastructure  

  • Governance & Policy

  • Social Innovation

  • Democracy/Participation

  • Finance & Funding

  • Learning & Capabilities 

  • Data & Digitalisation 

Stakeholder types that the city would like to engage in the pilot activities 

  • Academia  

  • Citizens

  • Business

  • Local NGO, Associations

  • Agency for Energy Efficiency, Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy, Albanian Association of Municipalities

Transferable features of the pilot activities to a Twin City/ies 

  • The multifaceted approach to studying human behaviour and energy consumption can provide valuable insights applicable to diverse urban settings. By understanding the complex interplay of factors influencing energy consumption, such as building characteristics, occupant behaviour, and the effectiveness of various interventions, cities can design more effective policies and programmes to reduce energy waste and promote sustainable practices.
  • Strategies for harnessing social norms to stimulate energy-saving behaviours can be adapted and implemented in other cities, fostering a culture of sustainability and responsible energy use.
  • Retrofit models for different building typologies and business models and exploring financial mechanisms offer replicable models for cities with similar sustainability goals. A guidebook of different solutions for various types of buildings will be created. Cities facing similar challenges can learn from these experiences and adopt similar approaches.
  • Fraunhofer EPC software for energy assessment introduces an innovative and transferable approach applicable to various urban contexts.
  • Developing a community leadership model, engaging youth volunteer observers, serving as ambassadors of energy, leading participatory budgeting principles into the decision-making process. The model can be easily replicated in various cities and other levels of government.
  • The comprehensive approach to gathering data, conducting energy assessments, and involving stakeholders ensures that initiatives are tailored to meet the specific needs and priorities of the community. Other cities can replicate these community engagement strategies to build grassroots support for energy efficiency initiatives and drive meaningful change at the local level.

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.

Enabling conditions that will support the successful replication of your pilot activities in the Twin City

The successful replication of this GreenElb project in the Twin City would be supported by several enabling conditions across various domains.

Infrastructure: The availability of advanced metering infrastructure, smart grid technologies, and involving a diverse mix of building types would facilitate data collection, energy management, and the applicability of retrofit solutions. Skills and attitudes within the local administration: Capacity building programmes for local officials, positive attitudes towards sustainability among decision-makers, and openness to collaborate with external experts would each enhance the technical knowledge and commitment needed for successful replication.

Governance and legal frameworks: Supportive policies, streamlined permitting processes, and the establishment of a dedicated cross-departmental taskforce would create an enabling regulatory environment for energy efficiency.

Economic context: Funding mechanisms and demonstrable cost savings associated with energy efficiency measures would provide the financial incentives and resources necessary for replication.

Stakeholder engagement and awareness: Active engagement with key stakeholders, public awareness campaigns, and sharing of success stories from the pilot project would build confidence and momentum for wider adoption of energy efficiency practices.

By fostering these enabling conditions, the pilot activities can be successfully replicated in the Twin City, leading to significant emissions reductions and long-term environmental benefits.

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.

What does the city want to learn from Twin City/ies?

The pilot identifies the following five learning interests to explore with the Twin City:

  1. Learning how the Twin City effectively engages with diverse stakeholders, including residents, people with disabilities, seniors, and vulnerable groups, to identify their needs and motivate participation in climate initiatives. This includes understanding methods to encourage private businesses, entrepreneurs, and individuals to invest in climate action.
  2. Exchanging knowledge on best practices for consistent and reliable data collection, as well as strategies for enhancing awareness of modern technical solutions, policy frameworks, and environmental costs among stakeholders.
  3. Acquiring insights into the Twin City’s successful financial models, financing mechanisms, and strategies for attracting private capital to support large-scale retrofitting projects and other climate initiatives.
  4. Learning from the Twin City’s methods for conducting thorough monitoring and evaluation of building renovation, energy transformation, and resilience-building initiatives, including the selection of appropriate indicators to measure success.
  5. Extracting valuable lessons from the Twin City’s experiences in cultivating a culture of mutual learning, knowledge sharing, and effective collaboration among diverse stakeholders, including successful strategies for overcoming institutional, structural, and socioeconomic barriers.

By focusing on these learning interests, the Pilot will gain valuable insights and knowledge from the Twin City, addressing key challenges and enhancing the effectiveness of climate policies and initiatives.

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.