The Swedish Energy Agency's programme for a Sustainable Municipality is a unique cooperation between the Agency and 37 of the country's municipalities. It is based on the participating municipalities' ambitions to make their local communities more sustainable. The Swedish Energy Agency contributes with knowledge, information and networks which facilitate and make the work done by each municipality more efficient. Together we can make energy use more efficient and in that way contribute to a better climate.
The municipality is an important operator which can achieve sustainable energy use within an energy system which is safe, cost-effective and has a low negative impact on health, the environment and climate. When the municipality is thinking of building, planning a new part of town, renovating properties and so on, a long-term and systematic handling of energy issues is an important element for sustainable development.
The municipality invests in long-term solutions which save both money and the environment, factors which make the municipality more attractive to live in. The municipality can also help its inhabitants and companies to save money and the environment by rendering more effective their use of energy.
The municipality's efforts to develop a more energy and environmentally-aware business and industry, can create work and economic growth when the market continues to demand sustainable products and services.
Cooperation is the key to sustainability
Energy issues are dealt with in most parts of the management of the municipality's operations. By clarifying them and treating them as key issues for the future, the conditions are created for a sustainable development. Through cooperation, both internally and with other operators on the market, the municipality can increase their knowledge and in this way both in the long-term and systematically, integrate an energy perspective in the day-to-day work carried out by the municipality.
The Swedish Energy Agency and other authorities contribute with their expertise and know-how. The municipalities that participated in previous stages of the programme, participate in the form of Nestor municipalities contributing with their experience and knowledge. Researchers and universities contribute with methods and tools which are developed within the programme and elsewhere. But success is based on initiatives taken by the municipality itself. It is the will and motivating force of the municipality that determines how much their participation in The Sustainable Municipality will be.
An important aspect of the programme which forms the substructure of the cooperation is that the municipalities can learn from each other's experiences, can give and provide support and discuss the various possibilities or obstacles. Good examples of the work done by the municipalities form a central part of the programme and the Swedish Energy Agency's task is to collect together, administer and disseminate these examples to selected target groups.
Focus on theme areas – where is the potential?
The Sustainable Municipality focuses on several different theme areas where the municipality plays a key role and has a lot to gain by adopting a long-term and systematic approach. These include for instance making municipal operations more energy-efficient and by organising information campaigns directed to its inhabitants and companies as well as energy-related information regarding physical planning, the municipality's properties/premises and housing accommodation, planning and organisation prior to crises with regard to electricity and heating supplies, trade and industry development in cooperation with other affected parties, municipal transports and public transport, municipal engineering supplies, schooling and energy plans.
The municipality itself focuses on the areas which agree with the local energy and climate strategy.
In 2003, The Sustainable Municipality started as a five-year feasibility study with five municipalities. After almost five years, the programme was evaluated and the results were positive. The Swedish Energy Agency then submitted an enquiry to the country's remaining 290 municipalities and asked them if they were interested in taking it a step further. More than 60 municipalities were interested, which is more than one fifth of all of Sweden's municipalities. All those municipalities that sent in an application expressing their interest have been given the possibility of participating.
The present phase is being implemented during the period June 2008-June 2011. At the same time a new attempt is being made to integrate the regional level with municipalities in a pilot county council.