Peer learning – sharing knowledge and benefiting from one another

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AESS Energy Agency (IT) strenghtens expertise on one-stop-shops and energy-efficient retrofits through mentoring programme

Exchange, learning from each other, inspiring each other – these are core values of a network. These ideas are also integral to Climate Alliance, which now connects almost 2,000 municipalities from across Europe. In 2022, the Climate Alliance team supported new member AESS (IT) in the framework of a six-month mentoring programme with Italy’s Piedmont region.

Climate Alliance coordinated the mentoring programme via the EUROPA project, which aims to promote energy-efficient retrofits in residential buildings. With the programme, Climate Alliance matched EUROPA pilot regions with interested stakeholders so as to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and skills from mentors to the mentees. Thematic focal points included energy-efficient retrofits with performance guarantees and one-stop shops, or the bundling of key renovation services in one place. Together with other stakeholders, the Agency for Energy and Sustainable Development (AESS) was a mentee in a peer group for which the Italian region of Piedmont acted as a mentor.

Even before the programme started, AESS was already actively working on energy efficiency, retrofits and one-stop-shops. Nevertheless, the energy agency wanted to gain more competence and inspiration from colleagues. "We were eager to learn more. Much has been done in the last years in terms of retrofits in Modena, but there is still a lot of room for improvement, especially in the private building sector," comments Lisa Sentimenti, project manager at AESS on the agency’s motivation for participating in the mentoring programme. AESS's mentor, the Piedmont Region, is Italy’s largest region and places a focus on renewable energies, energy efficiency and energy certificates. With a regional one-stop-shop, the region offers homeowners and property managers a single point of contact with multidisciplinary expertise, including advice on energy efficiency, concrete technical and financial solutions.

The mentoring programme was designed to highlight just these experiences, including a wide range of activities such as educational events, video training modules and Q&A sessions as well as dedicated networking opportunities and a 1.5-day visit to the mentors. AESS benefited greatly from the direct exchange with Piedmont, especially in the field of one-stop-shops. "For us, it was particularly interesting to learn more about the different business models related to sustainable one-stop-shops in Italy," explains Lisa Sentimenti. "A key insight was thus confirmed. To tackle energy issues in an area, an integrated approach is absolutely crucial!" The impressions from Piedmont have thus also influenced AESS’s strategy. Combining funding opportunities with available sustainable energy tools and projects is critical to the success of a territorial strategy. "In concrete terms, this means that one-stop-shops should ideally address various topics, such as support for energy renovations as well as for the creation of renewable energy communities," explains Lisa Sentimenti.
This insight is a great asset for the energy agency and AESS can also benefit from future cooperation with Piedmont. Even after the end of the mentoring programme, the peer group to which AESS belonged and the Piedmont Region plan to continue on as an informal network of one-stop-shops and to keep exchanging ideas – sustainable added value for all involved!

The example of AESS and the Piedmont Region shows just how fruitful and influential exchanges between local authorities can be. In this respect, networks and initiatives like EUROPA’s mentoring programme can serve as catalysts, connecting municipalities in a lasting way. These partnerships facilitate mutual learning and can be truly inspirational, with the power to support climate action efforts for all partners.

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written December 2022