A recent international project LC DISTRICTS, which was Energy Agency of the Zlín Region (EAZK) part of, has brought a significant impact on developing low-carbon areas in the Czech Republic as well as on a further improvement of national policy tool OP Environment (OPE), a basic subsidy program in the field of environmental protection at the national level.

The Zlín Region is a border region in the eastern part of the Czech Republic with 307 municipalities, many of which have less than 1,000 inhabitants and face insufficient own capacity in fulfilling the policy of reducing emissions and increasing energy efficiency. Both local and regional administrations face challenges regarding the efficient and at the same time user-friendly use of buildings and facilities belonging to them or to their organizations.

EAZK has many years of experience in the use of OPE and over the past 16 years it has developed and administered almost 600 projects with a value exceeding EUR 180 million, when OPŽP support made up a significant part of these investments in energy efficiency and renewable sources.
One of the challenges for the Zlín Region is to use this tool in the most efficient way possible and to try to provide feedback to the national level with suggestions for improving this tool.

LC DISTRICTS created a unique opportunity to connect the regional and national level through the cooperation of EAZK with institutions at the national level – Czech Technical University, State Environmental Fund or Ministry of the Environment.

Also, participation in the LC DISTRICTS project enabled both EAZK and the Zlín Region itself not only to capitalize on its experience but also to be inspired by examples from partner regions in Navarre (ESP), Småland (SWE), Ancona (IT) and Croatia, and to utilise all existing and new knowledge to engage into the process of determining the form of OP Environment for the following programming period 2021 – 2027.

Among conclusions that emerged during the project cooperation belong for example:
-    Modern passive and low-energy houses, built in the public sector of pilot areas, have great potential to become a model for other similar buildings in the private sector as well.
-    Subsidy support from OPE as part of the modernization of public buildings was increased for comprehensive measures and achieving maximum energy savings,
-    The supported measures were expanded, and the administrative complexity of the projects was reduced.
-    Subsidy support from OPE for the construction of new buildings was increased from the existing 30 to 32% and a maximum limit of CZK 50 million to 50% and a maximum limit of CZK 120 million for passive buildings and 70% and a maximum limit of CZK 140 million for active buildings .
-    The transfer of experience with the construction of passive buildings was successfully imported into other subsidy programs, e.g. IROP (Integrated regional operational program)
-    The use of functional examples from other countries in terms of ambitions, used materials and a comprehensive approach was an inspiration for the key subjects forming the final form of the national operational programs.

Thanks to the comprehensive concept of the LC DISTRICTS project and the action plan created for the Zlín Region within the project, EAZK will not only play the role of facilitator for municipalities and regions through the submission of targeted and carefully selected projects but will also play an important role in providing feedback at the national level for further adaptations of the program for its most efficient use for the benefit of the end users.