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5 tips for communities to deal with the energy crisis

  • Tuesday, November 8, 2022

  • The price of energy has risen dramatically: the price of gas has increased between 10 and 20 times between the beginning of 2021 and today. The situation is similar in the electricity market. This puts many local authorities and companies in extremely difficult financial situations.

    • How can communities implement effective strategies to control expenses and energy consumption?
    • How can we make citizens responsible for these critical issues for the future of our territories?

    The Fluicity team conducted the survey based on the testimonies of its partner cities and the website FutureProofed.

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    In the context of managing the energy crisis, not all communities are on a level playing field in designing and implementing their sobriety strategies. Larger cities have more investment capacity but face more stakeholders and decisions may be slower. Small and medium-sized cities will need to focus on the major emitters of CO2 such as households, mobility and the service sector. More generally, cities will have to make three types of decisions:

    • careful management of the budget & freeze on future recruitments in 2023
    • immediate reduction of certain energy expenditures in the public space
    • sustainable investment in equipment and devices to reduce energy consumption

    Here is a list of actions published by the website and has been proven effective in other cities.

    1. Start with municipal buildings

    💡 Review the lighting of the administrative buildings.

    This involves making the lighting in municipal buildings more efficient.

    Example of action:

    • Switch to LEDs and save tens of thousands of euros
    • Temporarily moving buildings that are too expensive to heat (example of a college in Avignon in the Vaucluse)

    🏢 Insulation of municipal building roofs.

    Insulating the municipality's roofs saves energy, reduces emissions and sets an example for citizens.

    Action example:

    • Save tens of tons of CO2 per year by insulating municipal roofs.

    🚛 Reducing emissions from the municipal fleet.

    This encourages more efficient use of the existing fleet.

    Related Action:

    • Have municipal employees trade in cars for bikes, setting an example for more sustainable mobility.

    2. Alternatives for the mobility sector

    🚗 Private transportation.

    Promote the use of bicycles or walking instead of cars.

    Sample action:

    • Make it safer for cyclists to park their bikes in the city. Carpooling. No more one-man shows in the car. Sharing is caring. Sample action:
    • offer a car to share to employees of a company or help organize carpooling to the train station or to work.

    🚆 Public transportation.

    A modal shift to public transport (without train). The promotion of the use of public transport can be possible from the municipality.

    Example of action:

    • offering a free bus through the city center.

    3. Focus on household consumption

    🏡 Home insulation.

    Undertaking a complete renovation is desirable, but probably not financially attractive. Roof insulation is the most cost-effective measure for homes. Wall insulation and floor insulation come second and third.

    Sample Actions:

    • Offer a platform to visualize energy consumption (ex: Linky in France),
    • Give incentives for insulation (e.g. MaPrimeRénov' in France), Organize an information session around complete renovations.

    🔌 Purchase of 100% green electricity.

    Buying green electricity is becoming the norm for many households. Your city can speed up this process. For example, by negotiating discounts with electricity suppliers.

    🍽️ Reduction of electricity consumption through more energy efficient appliances.

    Replacing inefficient appliances with more efficient ones can save a lot of money and energy.

    Example Action:

    • Offer free tips to identify the most inefficient household appliances.

    🚛 Reducing emissions from the municipal fleet

    The municipality can subsidize the purchase of household composters or plant shredders to reduce the number of trips made by dump trucks.

    🤓 Develop coworking

    The downside of telecommuting is that households must keep the heat on to work from home.

    Examples of actions:

    • create coworking spaces (e.g., in the city library) to reduce household heating expenses,
    • like carpooling, help to set up "co-working" in order to work every other day at the neighbor's place. Bonus: it creates links!

    4. Investing in renewable energy

    Renewable energy production is a critical backbone of any climate action strategy. Here are the most interesting options:

    🌞 Photovoltaic panels on the fireplaces.

    This is cost-effective and further reduces emissions from the household sector. The cost of solar energy is now among the cheapest.

    Example of action:

    • organize grouped purchases for its inhabitants for example in firewood and wood pellets.

    🌬️ Wind turbines.

    Each wind turbine is cost effective and offsets a lot of carbon emissions. If it is organized with citizen participation, it is more likely to succeed.

    Action example:

    • citizen participation in small and large municipalities.

    🏢 Photovoltaic panels in municipal buildings with energy cooperatives.

    Democratizing access to renewable energy production is possible through energy cooperatives.

    Action example:

    • open the roofs of municipal buildings to citizen cooperatives.

    5. The participatory mode to empower citizens

    Adapting your municipality to climate change is inevitable and essential. This adaptation depends on each place and each context, specific to your territory. To make the right decisions and strengthen their implementation, it is important to develop citizen involvement in your energy efficiency plan.

    Example of action: set up a citizen participation platform to consult your citizens on their expectations and capacities in terms of energy sobriety. This method has also proven its effectiveness: on the one hand, to make citizens responsible for complex decisions, and on the other hand, to engage them in a sustainable way in this collective effort. In concrete terms, it is possible to:

    • launch a citizen questionnaire to ask citizens about your Climate Plan,
    • organize a "reverse participatory budget" allowing citizens to vote and prioritize the most desirable spending cuts for their city
    • give citizens the means to propose original levers for reducing their energy consumption in their territory.

    Votation Sables d'Olonne

    As an example, the city of Les Sables d'Olonne decided to launch a questionnaire on the citizen participation platform Fluicity to engage citizens in their crisis management policy by inviting them to position themselves on related projects.

    This approach makes it possible to make citizens aware that these decisions - which touch on habits that are anchored in our daily lives - will be difficult, even unpopular, and that a collective effort will be necessary for them to have an impact on our energy autonomy.

    More and more cities are relying on the participatory approach to implement these profound transformations.

    This is the case of European capitals such as Bruxelles or Strasbourg who have set up dedicated platforms. So why not you?