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Passive House Regions: A Guide to Success
Several municipalities and regions have already implemented successful, cost-effective strategies to achieve high standards of energy efficiency using Passive House supplied as much as possible by renewable energies as the foundation.
Within the EU funded project Passive House Regions with Renewable Energies (PassREg), the key factors which have lead to the successful implementation of such concepts in these “front runner” regions are being analysed and made visible to help other aspiring regions become front runners themselves.
Comparative analysis of "front runner regions"
In its initial phase, the PassREg project looked to three European pilot regions: Hanover (Germany), Brussels (Belgium) and Tyrol (Austria). A comparative analysis was carried out to identify major trends and parameters and to communicate both achievements and failures on the road to success – the so called Success Models. Based on these findings, a Success Guide has been developed to encourage and assist other less experienced regions and municipalities to follow their example – thus becoming front runners themselves.
The comparative analysis of the front runner regions has produced an enormous wealth of good practices and solutions which, combined with the professional knowledge gleaned through the project and a pinch of imagination, have the potential to revolutionise construction practices all over Europe.
Three regions - three approaches
The achievements in all three front runner regions are remarkable, although the initial conditions and approaches taken are quite different: Hanover’s success is based on a longstanding political consensus on the strategic goals of the region. Brussels has recently seen an explosion of Passive House construction as a result of its ambitious new legislation and successful incentive schemes. Tyrol stands as a great example of regional and local initiatives and the pioneering role of limited profit housing associations.
Although different in nature, ranging from top-down approaches to bottom-up movements, all examples lead to the conclusion that a stable and coherent legal framework is a must, but can only work in combination with a working incentive system, accessible to all target groups. Close interaction between different levels of governance are another factor characteristic for the three regions. Sustainable networking activities among stakeholders, public awareness raising campaigns and local leadership, are another common denominator that as made these models extremely successful.
Capacity for change
The success factors identified lead up to what can be described as ‘capacity for change’. This set of ingredients includes all stakeholders, ranging from local authorities to educational establishments and professional networks with their information and knowledge, skills and abilities, interests and connections. Again, the approaches taken to address these groups can be different: the public dialogue provoked by Hanover’s Local Agenda 21 was initiated by the proKlima fund, the Climate Protection Agency Hanover region (CPAH) and existing local networks. The rapid growth of low-energy construction in Brussels Capital Region would not be possible without the combined efforts of the Brussels Environmental Department, the Exemplary Building programme and the Passive House Associations PMP and PHP. In Tyrol, national institutions and arrangements such as the Austrian Energy Agency and klima:aktiv might not be able to reach their regional targets without, for example, the efforts of Energie Tirol, IG Passivhaus Tirol and the research work undertaken by Innsbruck University.
Even at this early stage, the message is quite clear: appropriate national regulatory frameworks create favourable conditions, but do not reduce the need for the active involvement of regional and local authorities who, in turn, need to be supported by accessible incentive schemes (or provide support, depending on the administrative structure) . With all these mechanisms in place, building “capacity for change” by involving a wide range of local partners and stakeholders is key to their success. The competence of these actors is an important prerequisite for their effective contribution and the only way to create new sustainable industries and jobs, thus supporting overall economic growth.
Based on these findings, the Success Guide will help to produce many new ideas and solutions at local and regional level – which is where change actually happens.
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