Doing our Homework – Public Private Partnership

03 December 2020 - Published by Deirdre Buist
The European Green Deal (2020) provides the vision and the political framework to make Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent. Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans remarked - during his speech at the presentation of Building a Climate Neutral Europe last October - that while the EU is on track for the current 2030 targets, …”we still have some homework to do, especially on energy efficiency”. As a consortium focussing on engaging and enabling homeowners to improve energy efficiency through renovations, Stronghouse has indeed been doing its homework and is, most importantly, exchanging the lessons learned with each other.

There are a lot of European co-funded projects working on very similar challenges. Many Stronghouse partners are also involved in other projects. ProjectZero and Bremerhaven, for instance,  also participate in Act Now!, an Interreg Baltic Sea project. Act Now! wants to help small and medium sized municipalities with improving the energy efficiency of their existing building stock. To this end, these municipalities look for knowledge about energy losses, competences for preparing investments, and skills to stimulate private investment in energy efficiency. The core idea of the Act Now! approach is to realize this through Public Private Partnerships involving experienced energy efficiency businesses, institutions and municipalities.

ProjectZero & Act Now!

For Act Now! ProjectZero has produced a Guideline for Public Private Partnerships. The guideline has been made for public officials in small and medium-sized municipalities around Europe looking for inspiration for an actionable and effective approach to improving energy efficiency in existing building stock.


undefined  Peter Rathje, ProjectZero CEO


Municipalities & neighbourhoods

This Guideline is relevant for the Stronghouse efforts: municipalities can play an important role in enabling individual homeowners to invest in energy efficiency. Also, municipalities can stimulate a neighbourhood approach, whereby energy renovation and social cohesion go hand in hand. There are several succesful examples of this approach already working well within the Stronghouse partnership  (for example with  Noordeveld and IGEMO). Moreover, private sector involvement is also essential for SME market access and adoption strategies. Here Stronghouse will use and build on the outputs of Act Now!.

Selected insights

For our Stronghouse stakeholders we have made a quick selection of insights and tips on how to approach and create a sustainable cooperation between public authorities and the private sector with regards to investing in energy efficiency in the local building stock:

  • Lack of consistency across relevant national policies means that local authorities can be the most effective in initiating energy actions. They are closely involved through planning and building permits as well as training of experts, designers and builders. Stronghouse builds on this insight with its neighbourhood approach.

  • The bigger potential lies not in municipal buildings but in private facilities so change should be driven by a local holistic focused partnership across sectors. Therefore, Stronghouse focusses on individual homeowners, starting with understanding their needs and possibilities.

  • Enabling the public and the private sector to take joint responsibility means addressing private facility owners and local citizens about cost-efficient measures and investments to reducing the energy consumption and stimulate private investment in energy efficiency, especially in neighbourhoods

  • Municipalities must set a positive and motivating example by sharing and communicating what they have learned and promote the effect of measures and investments. Interestingly Stronghouse partner Municipality of Noordenveld does so by also participating ‘as a neighbour’ in a local energy cooperative.

  • The private sector can be approached from two perspectives – private ownership of the building stock segments, and private businesses offering products and services. Stronghouse works with both: enabling individual homeowners to invest in energy renovation and improving access for SMEs to this market of individual homeowners.

  • Purpose and ambitions might differ from municipality to municipality; and the maturity and the political ambitions/outlook will determine how municipal staff will see opportunities, take initiatives by themselves and reach out to the private sector and catalyze new joint solutions.

  • The core of a successful PPP is a shared purpose, mutual trust and understanding between partners.

  • The level of positive experience and the motivation from both public and private partners defines the PPP maturity level and time required to move.

Creating trust in different cultures

Finally, Peter Rathje, ProjectZero CEO and author of the Guideline for Public Private Partnerships shares his views: “We need to create trust. The public and private company cultures are different. Municipal staff is not used to working together with the private sector – only as an authority. Awareness of climate change and a willingness to adapt behaviour is still low amongst private house owners, while scepticism can also be substantial hindrance at a business level. Building retrofit projects is also an investment in local and social welfare and comfort. The investment in partnerships and trust is of great value and will pay off over time.”

Act Now! Project Manager Till Scherzinger of the Klimastadtbüro Bremerhaven, adds: “The administration holds the key to greater energy efficiency in its hands. State offices, schools and hospitals are among the public buildings that already contribute to mitigating measures for climate change by saving energy and converting to renewables."




Act Now! Project Manager Till Scherzinger, Klimastadtbüro Bremerhaven

More homework 

Despite the current limitations of working from home, work within the Stronghouse consortium is progressing at a healthy pace. Partners continue to compare, share and build on the knowledge and experience of complementary European cooperation projects. There is quite a list!

If you want to kickstart energy efficiency in your municipality, Stronghouse strongly recommends this read on energy efficiency in the local building stock.

Download Public Private Partnerships Cooperation of public authorities with private investors

You can also visit the Act Now! learning platform where there is a wealth of material, primarily aimed at local administrations (e.g. urban planners, energy management, local development and financial departments) but also cooperating institutions or private companies dealing with energy efficiency.

https://Act Now!

The Act Now! Approach provides help for self-help. It focuses on building internal capacities that support municipalities to sustainably plan and implement energy efficiency measures in the long run.

Stronghouse contact for more information on the Interreg Baltic Seas project Act Now! : Peter Rathje CEO, Project Zero,