Covenant of Mayors
  Covenant Newsletter September 2013  
Almada’s local energy forum and climate fund
{{{Interview with Mayor Maria Emília Neto de Sousa.}}} Almada’s long term commitment to sustainable energy objectives makes it one of the most prominent climate champions among Portuguese municipalities. The signing of the Covenant of Mayors in 2009 was another stepping stone in the sustainable development direction, leading to greater synergies between the municipality and the various members of the local community. While an energy forum was created for this purpose, Almada also made sure to back up ambitions with adequate means through the creation of a carbon fund.

You joined the Covenant of Mayors in 2009. Four years on, what are the most notable changes in Almada ?

I have signed the Covenant of Mayors in February 2009, following a unanimous decision taken by the City Council of Almada. However, our work in the field of energy efficiency dates back to the late 1990’s, with the creation of the Local Energy Management Agency of Almada, AGENEAL, which was a decisive step to embrace more effective energy and climate policies. With the support of AGENEAL, Almada was the first Portuguese municipality to develop a Local Strategy for Climate Change, acknowledging the need to reduce energy consumption and mitigate CO2 emissions from the activities undertaken in its territory. An energy reduction and CO2 mitigation plan by sector was drawn up and put in place to implement this strategy. This pioneer work was completed back in 2002, which meant joining the Covenant of Mayors in 2009 was a natural step for Almada. The Covenant of Mayors allowed the establishment of a broader and stronger framework for the development of energy saving measures in Almada.

Adding to the good results achieved so far in what respects the reduction of energy consumption (12%) and CO2 emissions (10%), a very relevant change brought about by the Covenant of Mayors was the fostering of stronger partnerships between the Municipality of Almada and the various relevant stakeholders, reinforcing the role of the local energy agency.

What measures have you introduced to incentivize citizens and businesses to change behaviour and adopt greener practices ? Can you give some very concrete and innovative examples ?

I can proudly say that two of the most relevant positive impacts of the Covenant of Mayors’ implementation was the increased involvement of local stakeholders in Almada’s Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) and the creation of Almada’s Carbon Fund “Almada Less Carbon”, in 2009. Almada’s Carbon Fund supports local energy efficiency investments, serving as a benchmarking instrument for the actions of other key players in the mitigation of GHG emissions, whether from the public or private sector.

In parallel, the promotion of a Local Energy Forum, bringing together the most relevant local stakeholders with a strong influence on the offer and demand of energy (private contractors, energy suppliers, service companies, transport operators, technological park, universities, among others), has turned out to be an effective approach to disseminate sustainability and eco-efficiency principles across the municipality. In the framework of this forum, some of the participants have even decided to develop their own SEAPs. Following this experience, the scope of the Local Energy Forum is now being enlarged to accommodate adaptation measures and resilience objectives, thus becoming a broader climate platform.

What has been the most cost effective measure you have implemented so far ?

Almada has managed to implement energy efficiency measures to mitigate carbon emissions in a wide variety of sectors. Some landmark initiatives include the switching to 100% LED traffic lights, refurbishment of municipal buildings, incentives for the refurbishment of the private building stock, use of electric vehicles in the municipal fleet and public transport system, promotion of public transport use and of more efficient service schemes such as demand responsive systems, to name just a few examples.

To highlight one particular initiative in more details, I would like to mention the solar system for hot water production installed in all sports facilities of Almada (swimming pools, football fields, athletics tracks, etc.), whether new or existing. This measure implied an important retrofitting effort that comprised also other energy use aspects, such as lighting and HVAC* systems. This integrated intervention allowed for a significant energy consumption reduction in the targeted municipal buildings and is being extended to the complete municipal building stock of Almada.

Another very important measure is the ongoing implementation of a telemanagement system to manage the public lighting infrastructures of the municipality. This cutting edge initiative, whose investment is 100% municipal, paves the way for very significant electricity reductions, which can reach 50% of the standard consumption, through lighting flux regulation, as well as maintenance optimization of the system. It also contributed to substantial municipal savings, leading to a better use of public resources and thus to an improved local governance. Both these measures have been supported by Almada’s Carbon Fund.

*Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning

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  The sole responsibility for the content of this newsletter lies with the Covenant of Mayors Office. It does not necessary reflect the opinion of the European Union. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein. The Covenant of Mayors was set up with financial support of the European Commission and consists of five associations of European local authorities: Energy Cities, Climate Alliance, Eurocities, CEMR, Fedarene, and ICLEI Europe.

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