How 2IMPREZS can benefit from Interreg Europe VIOLET Project
Energy efficiency through technical measures in buildings
With this year’s theme for the Interreg North Sea Conference being ‘’Interregional Cooperation’’, and as the Interreg Europe Programme unfortunately is coming to a close, it is important now more than ever for the 2IMPREZS project to share and reflect on past good practices from Interreg projects across Europe.
What sets 2IMPREZS apart from other Interreg projects is the goal to implement a ‘’joint energy saving programme’’ in 141 schools across the North Sea Region (NSR) in order to enable at least 30% reduction in carbon emissions. But what exactly is meant by a ‘’joint energy saving programme’’? In other words, a minimum 15% of the energy consumption savings will come from student-inspired behavioural changes in schools—through motivating Energy Challenges—while the other 15% energy savings will stem from technical changes in the school buildings’ infrastructure. While the 2IMPREZS project benefits immensely from the partnership with and experience of the Energy Challenges Foundation in terms of inspiring behavioural changes in schools’ energy consumption, there is still an anticipated 15% energy savings that will come from technical measures applied to the school buildings themselves. This is where the expertise of other project partners such the European Institute for Innovation (EIfI) comes in.
The European Institute for Innovation—Technology (EIfI-Tech), a sister organisation of EIfI focused more on topics related to technology modernisation and implementation, is currently involved in multiple projects aimed at achieving energy efficiency in buildings across Europe. Particularly important to the case of 2IMPREZS is the Interreg Europe project, VIOLET (preserVe tradItiOnal buiLdings through Energy reduction), which runs from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2021.
What is VIOLET?
VIOLET, with over € 1 Million in ERDF, preserves traditional and heritage buildings by integrating energy efficiency and cultural heritage into policy planning, management and monitoring, all thanks to interregional cooperation. Through cooperation amongst five regions at different stages of development and one expert advisory partner, VIOLET fosters a multisector, integrated planning approach, bringing together organisations in charge of energy efficiency and those in charge of cultural heritage at regional and EU levels. VIOLET creates long-lasting networks through local Communities of Practice (CoP e.g. the VIOLET stakeholder groups) of key organisations using a multisector approach. CoPs engage with MAs, policymakers, universities, professionals, businesses, and associations, regarding policy needs and make recommendations for energy efficiency in traditional buildings.
Photo: Interreg Europe project VIOLET faces the challenge to create a building culture that is sympathetic to modern requirements of reinstatement and conservation for improved energy usage and reduced carbon emissions—without endangering architectural heritage.
How can 2IMPREZ learn from VIOLET?
2IMPREZS aims to reach their goal of at least 30% total energy savings through establishing at least four nearly-zero energy pilot schools. One prospective nearly-zero energy school, a task overseen by the 2IMPREZS partner Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, is an old building with historical significance in Southend-on-Sea, United Kingdom. Built in 1909, Chalkwell Hall Junior High requires many of the same energy efficient technical changes as the buildings VIOLET works with; for example, old windows must be replaced, insulation added, lighting improved, and so on. 2IMPREZS also aims to renovate a nearly-zero energy school in Germany, where EIfI and EIfI-Tech are based, using not only the experiences of other 2IMPREZS pilot schools within partner regions but also EIfI’s and EIfI-Tech’s expertise gained from highly relevant and transferable Interreg projects such as VIOLET.
Hosted by EIfI-Tech in May 2018, the third international VIOLET Partner Meeting and study visit was conducted with the main purpose of exchanging good practices related to energy efficiency measures in buildings. The meeting took place in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany—home base for EIfI-Tech—where the VIOLET partners participated in a workshop involving German stakeholders focusing on “Best practices in conservation and energy efficiency in heritage and historic buildings in Germany”. EIfI-Tech’s expertise and knowledge shared during this meeting and study visit to historically significant buildings translates into increasing energy efficiency in buildings in the scope of VIOLET, 2IMPREZS and beyond. Put simply, the theme of interregional cooperation is embodied by the 2IMPREZS partnership’s ability to learn good practices from one another in a transnational context for a more sustainable Europe.
Photo: Chalkwell Hall Junior High (est. 1909) is prospected to undergo a series of technical improvements to reach at least 15% energy savings.
In conclusion, buildings in Europe currently consume 40% of Europe’s total energy and emit 36% of CO² emissions—a statistic the Interreg Europe VIOLET project is all too familiar with. However, unless Europe works together to find a common grounds for how to renovate older buildings with historical significance (i.e. through knowledge flow between Interreg projects), the EU 2020, 2030 & 2050 directives will be left behind.