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Bratislava - Vrakuňa - Slovakia

Vrakuňa – becoming a stable part of Europe (a leader from the periphery)

Background

Vrakuňa is one of the 17 municipal regions of Bratislava, lying to the east of the capital. There are 18,000 inhabitants living in the district. Originally a small village at the outskirts of the city, it grew substantially during the Communist era into an anonymous commuter zone with many large, badly built apartment (multi-residential) blocks with poor energy performance. The remaining empty spaces are now being filled with newly built family houses of the growing urban sprawl. Most of the inhabitants are on relatively low incomes, having to spend a comparatively larger part of their income on living expenses, including energy bills. This problem is also worsened by energy wasteful habits from the past, when energy prices were negligible.
The area also suffers from a degrading public transport system, anonymity and a lack of public participation in matters concerning the community.

The municipal council decided to tackle this situation and to turn the area, typical for many post-Communist urban suburbs, into an active community, an attractive residential area of Bratislava with good quality housing and modern infrastructure, including a good transport system, culture and sports facilities – simply a good place to live.
In 2004 the municipality set itself an ambitious new development programme called the ’New Face of Vrakuna’. Based on the real needs of the district’s inhabitants it formulates a vision for the future, which will be inspiring both for the council and the citizens. The vision is based on the key concepts of co-operation, public involvement, mutual trust and intensive communication.

The main mission of the municipality is to secure conditions for dignified living, creating opportunities for self-expression, active leisure and satisfied living ("spokojné bývanie" in Slovak).


Concept of "satisfied living"

To materialize the concept of "satisfied living" the council set up a municipal building management company under the same name – Spokojné bývanie Ltd (SB). The company is in charge of over 4200 individual flats (98 multi-residential buildings), both municipal and private, mainly in Vrakuňa, but also in other parts of the city, serving over 20,000 customers. The council’s commitment to the principles of co-operation, transparency and public involvement is also reflected in the marketing strategy of SB. Its aspiration is to become a modern and efficient municipal company, giving their clients an assurance that their interests and satisfaction will be put before commercial profit. This strong pro-client orientation is based on mutual partnership, individual approach, reliable and experienced service and transparent administration. In line with this strong drive for their clients’ well-being SB strives to improve the energy performance of their buildings and reduce the living expenses both through modern technical improvements and active efforts to achieve behaviour change. It is SB’s ambition to become a flagship of the Vrakuňa municipality, setting an example both to private companies administering buildings in Vrakuňa and to other municipal companies in charge of publicly owned buildings elsewhere.

The Display® Campaign goals of transparency, public involvement and tackling energy efficiency fit in perfectly with the council’s own vision. The municipality of Bratislava-Vrakuňa signed the Display® charter on 27.2.2006, as the first and so far the only active Slovak municipality. The campaign was introduced to Vrakuňa by the manager of SB. SB as an administrator has direct access to energy consumption data and the municipality therefore decided to hand over the campaign management to the SB´s marketing department and let them pilot the project. After the first successful results of the Vrakuňa campaign, Henrieta Peškovičová, the marketing director of SB, has also received a mandate to co-ordinate the campaign in the whole country.

Within several months, thanks to SB’s active approach, Vrakuňa managed to become "The Best Beginner of the Month May-June 2006", and currently they are the tenth most active municipality of the whole network with 149 registered buildings.
The Vrakuňa municipality has gained prestige and credit as the most active campaign member in Eastern Europe. Display® has simultaneously become an ideal tool for delivering the council’s own vision.




Project Description

Political Support The Vrakuňa campaign was initiated by Marek Hargaš, manager of SB. "This campaign is to help residents realise that by changing their habits and using more efficient technologies they can reduce both their expenditures and also the burden on the environment. This project can also significantly contribute to identifying energy inefficient public buildings, such as schools, offices and other institutions. These often present an unnecessary strain on municipal budgets," says Marek Hargaš and confirms that "the implementation of energy saving measures and improved supply of heat and hot water to the apartments have reduced the energy expenses of the Vrakuňa residents." As the first heat generating company in Slovakia, we reflected the real costs of heat generation in the price, saving approximately 5 million Slovak Crowns to our clients. It is no surprise that since the change of management in 2003 not only we have not lost any clients, but their number rose by 60%. The openness and transparency in communication and the style of work result in the increased trust of our clients." In this way the Display® Campaign helps to deliver the council’s political goal of satisfied and affordable living. It is no coincidence that Marek Hargaš has been recently re-elected a Vrakuňa councillor, strengthening the support for the campaign from the council level.

Aim Participation in Display® is an important sign of the attention paid by the Vrakuňa municipality to the issues of energy efficiency and modernisation, open and active communication with citizens and care for the environment.

The DISPLAY® Campaign is a part of the wider effort of the municipality to improve the quality of life of local citizens. Despite the ongoing construction the council tries to maintain the amount of green spaces on the housing estate and adapt the local park to a centre of leisure activities. The council organises a number of cultural events, providing local inhabitants with entertainment and relaxation and also an opportunity to find out about the activities of the council. The aim is not only to communicate with the Vrakuňa community in general, but to focus individually on the life style of each resident living in the locality.

Key points Use of modern technology

_ Until July 2006 SB was in charge of heat generation and distribution, striving to deliver affordable warmth through a programme of energy efficiency, energy management and investment in modern technology.

_ The recently implemented improvements included the following measures :
- reconstruction of boiler plants ;
- creation of an automated heat supply management system ;
- reconstruction, improved regulation and insulation of the heat distribution system ;
- complete reconstruction and modernisation of buildings, incl. fabric thermal insulation and window replacement ;
- energy audits of all buildings.

_ As of July 2006 the company entered into a public-private partnership with Termming, an experienced energy company, concluding a 15 year lease of the heat supply system. The contract includes a commitment on the side of Termming to deliver heat in Vrakuna for the lowest price in Bratislava. This is to be achieved via an extensive programme of heat supply modernisation and building renovation. A biomass heat generation is also being considered as one of the options for the near future.

_ Despite handing over the heat supply to a private company, SB continues to work with their clients on ways of reducing energy costs and increasing energy efficiency of buildings.

_ Publicity campaign

_ The Display® message has been fully integrated into the publicity campaign on energy efficiency issues run by SB. The campaign tries to reach out to the clients using a range of innovative media channels, including :

- free energy efficiency advice to clients ;
- seminars and workshops for residents on energy efficiency and modernisation of buildings ;
- publicity campaigns in media (newspaper articles, TV shots) ;
- publication of ’Bývajme spokojne’ magazine on building and energy management ;
- website with information on energy, e.g. comparison of heat prices in Bratislava etc. The website will also show comparison of energy efficiency performances of buildings involved in DISPLAY® and lots of other related information ;
- promotion events and other public events ;
- satisfaction questionnaires.

_ "The need to do something about the inefficient buildings is a central topic of the free publicity seminars organised by SB and is partially also in response to the owners themselves", says Henrieta Peskovicova. "During many meetings with the residents we tried to emphasize the need for behaviour change and suitable investment in the energy saving measures."


_ SB do not limit their activities to residential flats, but attempt to also involve schools, nurseries and all the other municipal buildings in Vrakuna, not directly managed by them. They also try to include privately owned buildings in the campaign. To this purpose they organise seminars for private owners and housing associations, promoting to them the benefits of joining the campaign.

_ Results

_ At the general level, the Display® Campaign has significantly increased public interest in the issues of energy efficiency, shown for example by the growing demand for thermal insulation and energy renovation of apartment buildings administered by SB. The campaign has also brought the first visible positive change in one of the buildings registered in DISPLAY® - an improvement in water use from class E to D in the primary school at Rajčianska street. It was the first school in Vrakuna to join the campaign, placing two large posters on its building in November 2006.


_ "Education to environmentally conscious behaviour and responsible use of resources is slowly becoming a daily part of life of many pupils of our school. They take part in various competitions and campaigns organised also by non-governmental organisations," says Miriana Krajcikova, the school’s headmistress. "I believe that the Display® Campaign will highlight the need to invest in energy saving measures in municipal buildings. The children have started to convince their parents to behave in a more environmentally friendly way and save water and energy. This is a guarantee that the new generation is prepared to manage the planet in a more responsible way."

_ Thanks to the Energy Centre Bratislava and various financial partners a free energy audit of the school will be carried out and a set of measures will be implemented to further reduce energy consumption.
Due to its own limited budget the council seeks partners for the school modernisation programme. According to the school headmistress this will be the best way to find financial resources for the renovation of the school building. The school currently spends at least 70% of its budget on heating, water and electricity. By increasing the energy efficiency of the building the school could save up to 50% of resources allocated from the municipal budget. This money could be then used for other school activities.

_ As the Rajčianska school was the first municipal building to join the campaign and it supports the environmental education of its pupils, it has been chosen to serve as an example study of the practical impact of the Display® Campaign. In co-operation with the national campaign co-ordinator the schools organises a number of publicity events. The information on the campaign will also be published on the school’s website.

_ The school also shows a wider commitment to environment issues, e.g. by including various educational eco-programmes in its curriculum, which is another reason why it has been chosen to serve as an example study of the practical impact of the Display® Campaign.

_ Nationwide campaign


Henrieta Peškovičová would like to involve other Slovak municipalities in the campaign and spread the use of Display® to the whole country. For this purpose an umbrella organisation has been set up called Global Trade Slovakia Ltd. which is in charge of data collection, publicity and sponsorship matters.

_ In February 2007 SB, together with the Vrakuňa mayor, Ladislav Fatura and the Energy Centre Bratislava, organised a workshop introducing the Display® Campaign. The workshop was attended by approximately 20 representatives of commercial companies from abroad and also representatives of smaller Slovak municipalities. Global Trade Slovakia is planning to run an active campaign, approaching most of the municipalities in Slovakia and organising seminars in every region introducing Display®. The target is to involve a minimum of ten larger municipalities by the end of 2007.

_ Global Trade Slovakia is also seeking partners from abroad, which can become part of the framework of the Display® Campaign to help smaller municipalities develop or even financially support their energy saving projects.

_ According to Henrieta Peškovičová "Display® is an excellent indicator of the energy efficiency of buildings. The data on actual consumption will create pressure on energy savings. A preliminary comparison of costs between 2005 and 2006 shows that thanks to energy efficiency measures the residents saved hundreds of thousands of Crowns.“

_ The Vrakuňa campaign serves as an example not only for Slovak municipalities, but also for municipalities from larger European cities. It is also a way of becoming an active part of the European Union."
"We are proud of the recognition shown to us by other European participants of the campaign", she adds.

_ Student training

_ As a part of the campaign’s expansion Global Trade Slovakia is also planning to train up specialists for the municipalities from university students studying public administration and environmental management. The students will be trained to implement the project, communicate the campaign in their municipalities and collect the necessary data.

The campaign managers will be principally recruited amongst the students in the last year of their studies. The trained students will not be employed directly by the municipalities, they will rather act as consultants. The hope is these students will consequently stand a good chance of getting a job in the emerging area of municipal energy management.

Reason for inclusion as Shining Example The example of Vrakuňa has been included for the following reasons :

- the Display® Campaign forms an integral part of the council’s wider vision aimed at increasing the quality of life for local inhabitants. As a communication tool Display® becomes an ideal vehicle for delivering the council’s goal of affordable warmth by involving the public in energy efficiency issues and contributes thus to the change of behaviour and community renewal ;
- the Display® Campaign is also an important expression of the council’s own efforts for the modernisation of public administration in line with the principles of transparency and communication with the public ;
- by tackling the energy issues in its own estate the council tries to take a lead on sustainability issues and initiate changes among the wider public. In line with these efforts the campaign led by SB focuses not only on municipal buildings but also private ones and strives to awaken the interest of the whole community ;
- the municipality runs a very active publicity campaign using a range of promotion methods ;
- thanks to these sustained efforts the campaign has started to deliver concrete results (the Rajčianska school and several privately owned apartment blocks) ;
- the campaign also brings an additional educational element by providing training to university students.

Costs&Benefits

Costs &

funding

The total costs of the campaign so far have been around 3700 Euros. SB as the building administrator provided free DISPLAY® posters to its clients. It invests in the promotion articles in the information magazine and educational seminars on energy savings and building modernisation.

Partners&Roles

Partnership details - Bratislava-Vrakuňa Municipality
- Spokojné bývanie
- Rajčianska Primary School
- Energy Centre Bratislava
- Termming

To know more

Organisation

name

The Vrakuňa campaign (The National Campaign)
Contact Henrieta Peskovicova
Phone +421 903 225 961
Email display@spoby.sk

gts@stonline.sk

 
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