Like quality management systems from business and industry, the European Energy Award is also based on a process of continuous improvement, which ensures that eea municipalities continually increase their energy efficiency, the use of renewable energies and the sustainability of approaches to mobility.
However, in contrast to other quality management systems, the European Energy Award integrates two additional key factors for success:
1. Each municipality is assisted by an external eea advisor, who provides technical and organisational support throughout the entire eea process.
2. Certification under the European Energy Award or the European Energy Award Gold provides an incentive for other municipalities that are not yet certified, plus certified municipalities are able to use the award for location marketing purposes.
The process of implementation contains the following steps:
1) High level commitment. Municipalities take a top-level decision to enter the eea process. They set aside staff for this purpose and register with the national/regional eea organisation before they continue with the process. Both small and large municipalities from a wide range of countries have decided to pursue the eea process, which demonstrates that the eea is an attractive instrument of energy and climate policy for any municipality.
2) Energy Team Formation. The municipality creates a working group responsible for implementing the eea programme. This Energy Team comprises all of the municipality’s key players in energy and climate protection, i.e. various administrative and policy departments, possibly also committed residents, stakeholders etc. The national/regional eea organisation refers the municipality to an accredited eea advisor, who provides technical and organisational support to the municipality throughout the entire eea process.
3) A municipality’s scope of action regarding energy and climate protection policy covers all 6 areas of eea activities. The eea process ensures that all activities in each of these areas are systematically determined, assessed, continually checked, co-ordinated and precisely implemented.
4) Initial Energy Review. Using the eea-Management-Tool (EMT), the Energy Team and eea advisor review which measures within the municipality’s scope of action have already been implemented and identify areas that still provide potential for improvement. From this initial energy review a report is created that sets out the municipality’s individual profile of strengths and weaknesses.
5) Energy Policy Programme. Based on the results of the initial energy review, the Energy Team prepares an energy policy programme, which defines a binding programme of activities for subsequent years and sets out responsibilities and deadlines. This programme of activities helps maintain a clear overview of all energy and climate protection policy activities.
6) Project Implementation. The activities defined in the energy policy programme are implemented by policymakers, the administration and private individuals.
7) Monitoring and Auditing. The Energy Team and the eea advisor conduct anannual, internal audit in order to review the implementation of activities and establish whether goals have been reached. If the internal audit shows that a municipality actively utilises at least 50% of the scope of its energy and climate protection policy, it is referred to an external audit, which must be completedevery four years.
8) Certification and Awards. Once both the eea auditor and the national eea committee have confirmed the municipality’s exemplary energy and climate protection policy and implementation, based on the results of the external audit, the municipality is certified either under the European Energy Award (implementation of 50% of the scope of action) or the European Energy Award Gold (implementation of 75% of the scope of action).