The ELENA program started in 2009. It has awarded around EUR 100 million for energy projects. As a result, cities and other public and private entities around Europe have invested nearly EUR 4 billion in energy renovations.
"We were not prepared"
In Ljubljana, an energy-consumption survey of about 300 sites found that renovating buildings could cut up to 40% in energy use and save about EUR 3.5 million a year in heating costs.
To get ready for the renovations, the city hired more staff and brought in consultants. The ELENA grant helped pay for this, including preparing contracts and soliciting bids for projects. The grant also helped compare the savings that would come from using various renewable energy technologies. The project created more than 400 jobs. It was the biggest Slovenia energy efficiency renovation to date.
“We had used energy poorly and we faced problems that were going to be very time-consuming,” Loose says. “We were not prepared to take on a project of this size.”
Forty-nine buildings have been renovated so far. Kindergartens, primary schools, public libraries, health centres and sports halls received better insulation and heating units. Cultural monuments like the Plesni dance theatre or the castle received new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, as well as new electrical wiring. The city installed thermal heating units that use less energy. Electricity for city buildings now comes from renewable energy sources.
Rewards for people and environment
“The occupants of buildings are already noticing the savings,” Loose says. “This is better for the environment and more comfortable for people working in these places.”
The Slovenian government released guidelines to make it easier for others to copy the renovations. After all, ELENA grants are selected based on the potential for the project to be replicated in other places. The Slovenia energy efficiency programme could be a model for other European cities.
In the end, maybe retrofitting a Medieval castle isn’t the toughest part of the job. The EIB’s Six agrees: “The hardest part sometimes is just getting started.”