Project summary

What is LOCARBO?

LOCARBO is an interregional cooperation project for improving low-carbon economy policies. It aims to improve  policy instruments targeting demand-driven initiatives to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewables in buildings, through innovative ways of supporting energy consumers’ behaviour change.

Many of Europe's local/regional actors struggle with developing targeted, implementation-oriented policies addressing low carbon challenges. This holds particularly for energy wasting buildings irrespective of their ownership or use. Since buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption in the EU this is a highly relevant issue in the European context. The challenge to involve and motivate stakeholders (especially energy consumers) is perceived broadly as a major problem for public authorities. Motivation and awareness of consumers are of high significance to influence their behavior and support more conscious energy decisions.

Policy Change

LOCARBO is unique in focusing its activities on bottom-up initiatives and mainly because of the approach to combine and roll-out innovative practices linked to three strongly interrelated thematic pillars (services, organizational structures and technological solutions).

The expected result is the development of 7 fully feasible Action Plans with the focus on improving 7 policy instruments (5 ERDF, 2 other funds) influencing EUR 100M of funds.

Interregional Learning Approach

The 7 partners from Hungary, Italy, Lithuania,Portugal, Romania and the UK are aware that regional policies on energy efficiency can only be successful if pieces of the puzzle are brought together. This is achieved through inter alia intense local stakeholder group involvement, interregional site visits and the compilation of a good practice inventory.

Discover further details about the learning phase and interregional cooperation process through the LOCARBO promotional video:

Who will benefit?

By implementing the action plans an enlarged circle of end-users will benefit from making conscious decisions on energy efficiency and implementing investments using smart technologies. They will be assisted by new-type of services and innovative cooperation models promoted by local authorities.  


from 1 Apr 2016
to 31 Mar 2021

Low-carbon economy

What policy instruments does the project address?

The TCP is a planning tool developed at provincial level under the normative framework of the Basilicata Planning law (L.R.23/99) defining the territorial link between Municipal Planning (100 Municipalities in the Province) and the regional and national ones by integrating policies in several strategic domains including energy and climate change adaptation. Relevant objectives of TCP:

- promoting the reorganization of territorial governance, effective local development policies and services; - encouraging energy policies supporting EE and exploitation of all forms of renewable energy sources (RES); - supporting and implementing development programs in line with EU 2014/2020 strategic goals with focus on RES in urban rehabilitation and rural development, production and infrastructures.

Concerning energy policy the TCP identifies priority issues as: - reducing energy consumption through increasing efficiency of public and private housing and by exploiting RES; - overcoming financial difficulties of local governments by attracting private investments; - setting new energy-management procedures in a public services;

Successful TCP implementation requires less bureaucracy, more stakeholder involvement and public awareness raising, better and smarter designed programme procedures providing for more demand driven solutions in implementation. Calls to be launched should take advantage of LOCARBO adapted good practices (e.g. prioritizing ICT based solutions, smart technologies).  

Which partners are working on this?
  • Province of Potenza

The ROP ERDF 2014-2020 proceeds in the implementation of the S3 Strategy. Priority Axis IV - Energy and urban mobility fits the scope of LOCARBO and we expect contributions in order to improve the implementation process at regional level. The priorities selected for an effective integration of LOCARBO are: Priority 4B. Supporting the transition to a low carbon economy in all sectors promoting EE and renewable energy use in enterprises; and Priority 4C. Supporting the transition to a low carbon economy in all sectors supporting EE, intelligent energy management and RES use in public infrastructure, including public buildings, and 'housing’. We look at an integrated policy making which considers the socio-economic development tools (regional, national, EU) and ongoing process concerning territorial governance, planning, and internationalization - the Prov. of Potenza represents a model for integrating actions in sustainability, risk prevention and EE. Currently procedures of the policy instrument are complicated and lengthy, involvement of communities is moderate resulting in limited reach of the instrument and application of smart technologies are not promoted to a sufficient extent. The demand for innovation aims at improving the procedural framework in order to achieve effective impacts in mid term. This implies to promote new technological solutions, benchmark analysis in EU contexts, communities involvement methods in decision making, learning from good practices.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Basilicata Region

The Policy Instrument (PI) addressed is included in Thematic Objective 4 - Shift towards a low carbon economy in all sectors, Priority 4c – Support energy efficiency, smart energy management and use of renewable energy in public infrastructures, i.e. public buildings and the housing sector, and Specific Objective 3.2.1 – Increase energy efficiency in public infrastructures of local administration, supporting the implementation of energy efficiency integrated measures and rationalizing consumption funded by ERDF (Regional Operational Program – North region).


The instrument is to support the implementation of actions promoting energy efficiency and the increase of renewable energy in the consumption of local administration, contributing to enhancing energy efficiency in public buildings and reducing the energy bill.


Envisaged actions include: energy audits/plans for rationalization of energy consumption; investments in energy-driven rehabilitation of buildings; investment in equipment for the promotion of energy efficiency in public lighting, etc.


Public interventions at local level can be seen as demonstration projects or “leading examples”, promoting positive externalities for the society as a whole.


Deficiencies of the policy instrument’ governance should be improved: e.g.: energy management systems based on ICT are not widely known and/or recognized by stakeholders, public awareness is poor, involvement of local and sub-regional stakeholders is rather low.   

Which partners are working on this?
  • Municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia

European Regional Development Fund Operational Programme 2014-2020

• Investment Priority 4b: Promoting energy efficiency & renewable energy use in enterprise

> SO 4.2 – Increase energy efficiency in particular, in SMEs, including implementation of low carbon technologies. Action – Promoting innovation in businesses in order to deliver best practice in energy management to include innovation in EE and energy cost reduction to improve businesses competitiveness and resilience.


The OP presents an opportunity to use the ERDF to support improvements in the EE of companies, including the buildings, however in its current form, EE measures leave room for improvement: 1/ They do not reach do not reach those SME that offer the most potential due to narrow focus of measures in terms of potential beneficiaries and restricted scope of supported activities Through new-type of actions a better reach could be achieved to grow the low carbon sector and further develop innovative technologies. 2/ New measures on changing accepted practices results in a positive energy culture contributing to a wider adoption of renewable technologies. 3/ Supported activities should be broadened to improve EE of buildings using a mix of innovative low carbon interventions including: (1) installation of smart technologies and (2) behaviour change type of activities like (specific advice, support, information delivery) that help end-users be more conscious in energy decisions and clear up misconceptions.   

Which partners are working on this?
  • Durham County Council

Lithuanian energy-intensive economy has to change in order to increase energy efficiency (EE) and the use of renewable energy resources (RES): this is the overriding objective of investments under thematic objective 4. It will address both climate change and challenges related to environment and energy provision safety. Investments into EE of public and residential buildings are expected to save up to 1/3 of heating energy. Reaching as many objects as possible with limited funds, as well as raising interest and making stakeholders inc. inhabitants committed to planned measures will require an active role from intermediaries that provide energy saving services.


This priority axis includes interventions related to promoting and stimulating RES and EE in different sectors (heating, electricity, and industrial enterprises); modernising heating and electricity networks; promoting EE throughout the energy chain. Actions to be supported under investment priority 4.3: (1) Renovation and modernisation of multi-apartment buildings through EE enhancement measures. (2) Renovation and modernisation of buildings used by state, municipal authorities and institutions. (3) Improvement of energy production efficiency and use of RES in households. (4) Modernisation and development of district heating networks. Priority Axis 4 needs improvement since demand-driven initiatives are not emphasised properly although they have the potential to increase the efficiency of the planned measures.     

Which partners are working on this?
  • Kaunas University of Technology

Priority Axis 4 (“Energy”) of the Economic Development and Innovation OP (EDIOP) contributes to the strategic objective of stimulating competitiveness. The priority supports shift towards a low carbon economy by improving competitiveness of SMEs through their cost effective energy production and consumption. The instrument is linked to thematic objective 4 - Shift towards a low carbon economy in all sectors, Priority 4b – promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy use in enterprises. The specific measure addressed is the support to development of enterprises targeting energy efficiency increase and more extensive use of renewable energy. The concept of the priority is based on the fact that Hungarian SMEs are lagging behind their Western-European competitors in the field of EE. They use approximately 40% more energy in their everyday operation resulting inconsiderable environmental and business disadvantages on the competitive market. The most important savings potentials have been identified in the energy consumption of buildings. Objectives of the priority include improving energy awareness of SMEs, raising EE of buildings by reducing their primary energy consumption, supporting the extensive use of RES.


Currently the policy instrument does not promote spread of smart technologies adequately and energy conscious behaviour of SMEs is not addressed as a focal issue – topics at which improvement is required through LOCARBO activities.  

Which partners are working on this?
  • Hungarian Innovation and Efficiency Nonprofit Ltd.

In the current programming period Romania has access to ERDF through the Regional Operational Programme (ROP) 20142020, a national program, implemented at regional level and managed by the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration through 8 Regional Development Agencies. 

The overall objective of ROP 20142020 is increasing economic competitiveness and improving living conditions of local and regional communities, by supporting the business environment, infrastructure and services for sustainable development of regions, so that they can effectively manage their resources&potential for innovation and assimilation of technological progress.

ROP Investment priority 3.1 aims at supporting EE, smart energy management and renewable energy use in public infrastructures. This priority supports green measures for public buildings targeting renovation, incl. thermal insulation, rehabilitation and upgrading of heating systems, lightning and energy management system of the buildings.

The policy instrument (PI) is very relevant for the rehabilitation and modernization of the existent public buildings and represents a necessary support for the municipalities in order to improve EE, lower energy usage and implement green energy technologies.

This PI can be improved through measures that stimulate innovative actions preparing authorities for future energy challenges, while interconnecting with other similar policy instruments at national level, in a smart and efficient way.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Alba Iulia Municipality