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Going green

From EPSA - European Public Sector Award

Smart Public Service Delivery in a Cold Economic Climate | Opening Up the Public Sector Through Collaborative Governance | Going Green – Concrete Solutions from the Public Sector


Europe 2020 highlights the EU’s future growth strategy for the coming decade. In a changing world, the EU has to create a smarter, more sustainable and inclusive economy. Sustainable growth in this context means being more resource efficient, greener and more competitive; this is also a challenge for the public sector. Changes have to be triggered by:

  • supporting a competitive low-carbon economy that makes efficient, sustainable use of resources;
  • protecting the environment and preventing biodiversity loss;
  • capitalising on Europe’s leadership in developing new green technologies and production methods;
  • helping consumers make well-informed green choices.

As already mentioned, the notion of ‘sustainable growth’ and ‘green technologies’ will be a focus of the EU’s future development strategy for the coming decade.

Already today, ambitious policy objectives range from CO2 reductions to halting the loss of biodiversity. These objectives are translated into the latest changes of the ‘green’ acquis of the EU, with more than 200 directives or regulations. Public administrations at all levels play a crucial role in the enforcement of environmental legislation. As indicated by the annual reports of the European Commission, non-implementation and enforcement of waste, water, air or horizontal environmental legislation is a permanent problem. Recent problems such as those in the waste sectors have gained a lot of media attention. Some administrations have responded to this implementation challenge with concrete and innovative ideas and practices.

EPSA 2011 seeks to present these innovative practices in enforcement of environmental legislation. Proper enforcement is a prerequisite for the overall credibility of EU, national and regional policies. In addition, public administrations are playing a decisive role in innovative solutions for their own environmental management and procurement practices. In policy fields such as waste, water, renewable energy, energy efficiency and biodiversity, ‘green’ innovative instruments are being developed at all levels. EPSA 2011 invited administrations to present their concrete contributions for making sustainability a reality within their own premises, with respect to the products and services bought or means of transport used, etc.

In this context, EPSA was looking for both, showcase projects based on innovative practices in the enforcement of EU legislation by public administrations (e.g. a special local project on waste collection), as well as innovative examples of environmental management by public administrations (e.g. internal practices, procurement, awareness raising, etc.).

Specific criteria Theme 3:

  1. Link between innovative projects and EU environmental legislation/objectives.
  2. Convincing balance of environmental measures and cost-effectiveness.
  3. Internal and external communication and awareness raising.

Award winners

ProjectsCountryOrganisationLevel of governmentSectorShort english description
Ökokauf Wien - Ecobuy ViennaAustriaCity of Vienna Department for Environment Protection – MA 22Regional levelEconomic affairs, competition, SMEThe aim of the ‘ÖkoKauf Wien’ programme is to enhance the environmental compatibility of the city´s procurement system in line with the principles of climate protection and EU procurement regulations.

Award nominees

ProjectsCountryOrganisationLevel of governmentSectorShort english description
ECO2 - Eco-efficient tampere 2020FinlandCity of TampereLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryIt implements the climate and energy objectives of the City of Tampere, as well as changing city development practices to promote a low-carbon and carbon-neutral urban structure and supporting sustainable businesses.
Porto, a water sensitive city - Sustainable management of urban water cyclePortugalÁguas do Porto, EEMLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThe establishment of Aguas do Porto, in October 2006, brought a new perspective of water as a resource, with a determinant impact on life quality and socio-economic development of Porto city.
More forest for more lifeRomaniaArad County CouncilLocal levelPublic administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reformYet ACC managed to maintain a low cost for the afforestation – about €1200 spent over three years for the whole campaign, with great benefits to the quality of life of the county inhabitants: the equivalent of 270 million cubic meters of air has been restored.
The SITxell project - Integrating natural values and ecosystem benefits into land planningSpainBarcelona Provincial GovernmentLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThe aim of the ‘SITxell’ project is to set up a territorial information system covering the open areas of the province of Barcelona.

Best practice award winners

ProjectsCountryOrganisationLevel of governmentSectorShort english description
Klima:aktiv - Going Green: Buildings, mobility, energy efficiency, renewable energies!AustriaAustrian Energy Agency Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water ManagementNational levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThe programme fosters a competitive lowcarbon economy based on the efficient and sustainable use of resources, the protection of the environment, and the establishment of innovative green technologies and production practices.
Environmental management programme in the vienna city administrationAustriaCity Administration of Vienna Programme PUMALocal levelPublic administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reformThe programme aims for the City of Vienna to be even more environmentally friendly in the fields of energy consumption, waste management, procurement and more.
Subsidised loans for the purchase and installation of solar thermal collectors by housholds and residential communities programmePolandNational Fund for Environmental Protection and Water ManagementNational levelPublic administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reformUnder the programme, household owners or residential communities get a loan from one of the six partner banks for the purchase and installation of solar thermal collectors, and a subsidy which reimburses their costs (the loan) up to 45%.
The barcelona more sustainability city council programmeSpainBarcelona City CouncilLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThe priorities for the period 2016-2020 will be to deal with energy and water consumption by implementing the Municipal Buildings Energy Efficiency Plan or by reinforcing the installation of water saving systems. Other specific objectives for every department, district and autonomous municipal agency will also be defined for this period.
ECOGPPxLA - Implementation of ecodesign in green public procurement of urban furniture for local authoritiesSpainBarcelona Provincial CouncilLocal levelotherThe urban furniture Programme is a specific way to support the local authorities of the Barcelona Province. Its goal is to contribute to the improvement of local public space (squares, streets, parks, etc.) through the distribution of high quality, useful, comfortable and innovative urban furniture items.
A step change - Aberdeen city council's leadership for a low-carbon economyUnited KingdomAberdeen City CouncilLocal levelPublic administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reformThe Aberdeen City Council takes seriously the European Union signals regarding the environment and in particular Climate Change.

Award submissions

ProjectsCountryOrganisationLevel of governmentSectorShort english description
Solarpotentialkataster WienAustriaMunicipal Department 41 – SurveyorsLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThe location study of solar sites is one component in the context of the potential of renewable energy.
Lebensland KärntenAustriaProvincial Government of CarinthiaRegional levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThe mission statement of LLK is: ‘In the future, Austria shall make the use of electric vehicles as easy and convenient as any European country.’
Success at last - the struggle against dog waste in the city of ViennaAustriaVienna City AdministrationLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThe ‘Waste Watchers’, a mobile task force, has been established to make sure that Vienna is kept clean.
Pilot project - separate legal entity for clean energyBelgiumEOSLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThe main focus is on decreasing the usage of energy (SAVE).
Clean neighbourhoodsBelgiumIMOGLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThis activity backs the local authorities involved in keeping the neighbourhoods clean and seeing to a tidy and pleasant environment.
ARPIABelgiumMunicipality of HerzeleLocal levelSports, youth, culture and artThe concept of the project was sharpened through discussions and resulted in the boldly stated: Art with Landscape. During the summer, lots of activities were organised to enlarge the impact of the works of art and to connect them with performance, music, lectures, science, etc. in order to stay contemporary, alive and sometimes even kicking!
Laboratories and workshops of the department of mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering of the cyprus university of technologyCyprusCyprus University of TechnologyLocal levelEducation (higher and lower), training and learningThe Cyprus University of Technology (CUT), a newly established academic organisation, installed a solar heating/cooling (H/C) system in combination with a Geothermal Energy System (GES) in a sustainably restored historical building situated in the old town centre of Limassol.
Ministry of defence of cyprus strategic environmental planCyprusMinistry of DefenceNational levelPublic administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reformFor the effective implementation of its Environmental Policy, the MOD established an Environmental Management System (EMS) to manage, monitor and control all processes.
Achieving readiness for prompt recovery of orphan radioactive sourcesEstoniaMinistry of Economic Affairs and CommunicationNational levelPublic administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reformThe general objective of the project is to avoid and mitigate consequences of possible accidents caused by orphan radioactive sources.
Finland's first renewable energy public swimming complexFinlandCity of PoriLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThe project will facilitate the creation of new jobs in the solar energy business in the region.
Sustainable development strategy for the ministry of financeFinlandMinistry of FinanceNational levelPublic administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reformThe project was perfectly in line with a number of other objectives already set by the Government and the Ministry: the struggle to find budgetary savings, the decision to limit travelling expenses, the decision to save on real estate expenditures, and the need to find ways of implementing environmental targets set for the public sector.
ISSEOFranceIssy MédiaLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThanks to the innovation brought by ‘ISSEO’, Issy plans to contribute to the development of the Very High Environmental Quality (THQE) and at the same time bring solutions to the energy problem of the territory.
Pilot scheme sustainable buildingGermanyFederal Environment AgencyNational levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThe building is planned to exhibit a positive energy balance over the year, surpassing the standard of a zeroenergy building, and thus meet the requirements of Directive 2010/31/ EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on the energy performance of buildings.
The energy wood plantations in the agricultural domain bettenreute - The path to a carbon neutral energy supply in a prisonGermanyJustizvollzugsanstalt Ravensburg, Außenstelle BettenreuteLocal levelJustice, police, human rights and securityThe goal is to produce the complete heat supply of the agricultural branch ‘Bettenreute’ by the energy forest.
Iceberg model for enforcement of environmental legislation - Drinking water case studyIrelandEPANational levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThe model was successfully used in Ireland to tackle an EU infringement case (316/00) relating to drinking water quality; it has also been used in other infringement proceedings and has applicability across all environmental legislation.
Green customsItalyAgenzia Delle DoganeNational levelPublic administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reformThe initiatives concerning green purchases and the increase of separate collections of waste materials are aimed at increasing the Agency employees’ awareness about implementing those actions that have a lower environmental impact, both at the workplace and at home.
Natural-mente inpsItalyIstituto Nazionale Previdenza Sociale – Direzione regionale per l’UmbriaRegional levelPublic administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reformThe project, including feasibility studies, cost estimates and development of all the administrative documentation necessary to obtain the authorisation required by the law, was developed entirely by the technical office of the Regional Directorate INPS Umbria, helping to exploit the role and enhancing the level of professional knowledge.
Manifesto about safe - sustainable and autonomous - mobility during 'Home-School' routesItalyMunicipality of Reggio EmiliaLocal levelotherThe ‘Manifesto about safe – sustainable and autonomous – mobility during ‘home-school’ routes’ is a tool to involve all city schools in the topic of mobility.
Sustainable energy action plan (Covenant of mayors)ItalyMunicipality of UdineLocal levelPublic administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reformIn order to meet these goals, the municipality of Udine is using coordinated methods, both on the definition and implementation of a general framework for action and on specific tools in the energy field.
ERDF102 - Energy smart authorityMaltaMalta Housing AuthorityNational levelThe Housing Authority has undertaken many initiatives to perform more environmentally-friendly practices, both in its day-to-day operations as well as in its buildings and units.
MiljøpakkenNorwayMunicipality of TrondheimLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThe main objective of ‘The Green Partnership Agreement’ is to combat GHG emissions and climate change in transport.
Local accountability for kyoto goalsPolandCity Hall of BydgoszczLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryIn the face of climate change challenges that have been responded to by the European Commission, the need to reduce GHG emissions and change policies is undeniable.
One nature - many viewsPolandGDEPNational levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryIt aims to provide one place where all web services concerning the GDEP’s responsibilities are available through the main website.
The campaignPolandMinistry of EnvironmentNational levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fishery‘The Campaign’ came in second place in the competition for the most interesting public campaign in the area of environmental protection, organised by the European Environmental Communication Network (Green Spider Network).
Climate for changesPolandMinistry of EnvironmentNational levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryIn implementing its mission, the Ministry does its best to be a modern, professional institution, managing natural resources in a reasonable way, providing environmental education to the society and open to cooperation in the field of the environmental protection.
Administration of public funds allocated for environmental protection and water management using priority programmesPolandNational Fund for Environmental Protection and Water ManagementNational levelPublic administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reformPriority programmes are consistent with Polish and EU legislation, particularly in the areas of managing public funds (permitted public assistance) and environmental goals – section of national economy 22 (water management) and 41 (environment).
Field lessonsPolandRDOŚRegional levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThe project involved the participation of RDOŚ employees at major cultural events taking place over the weekends in Podlasie province and conducting ecological education there.
Complex thermo-modernisation of education institutions buildings in radzionków gmina (Municipal commune)PolandRadzionków City CouncilLocal levelPublic administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reformThe project consisted of thermo-modernisation works in educational buildings in order to decrease the cost of heating (including the cost of gas) and electric energy.
Plonsk - Ecological townPolandUrząd Miejski w PłońskuLocal levelPublic administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reformThe projects involved trainings courses for teachers, competitions for kindergartens, primary schools and middle schools.
Wroclaw - Towards the first low-emission city in central europePolandWroclaw Agglomeration Development AgencyLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryGoing green is more than just a trend, increasing urbanisation and associated industrialisation carry important implications which require planning.
ILUPub - Public lighting energy efficiencyPortugalAREANATejoRegional levelPublic administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reformThe aim of ‘ILUPub’ includes surpassing this stated goal, leading to a best practice at both national and European level. The development of such a characterisation constitutes an innovative method for gaining some control on public lighting energy consumption.
Eco campaignPortugalDGRHENational levelEducation (higher and lower), training and learningIn 2005 the Project ’ECO Campaign’ was launched, aiming at the development of collective responsibility awareness, uniting economy and ecology.
Get informed, be aware and protectRomaniaBucharest City HallLocal levelEducation (higher and lower), training and learningBucharest City Hall, through the Ecological and Civic Education Office, pays special attention to the achievement of responsible attitudes, both proper and lasting, concerning the importance of environmental issues.
Selective waste collection system in caracal cityRomaniaCaracal City HallLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThis project introduces a new system for this part of the county, the selective waste collection system.
Integrated waste management system in cluj countyRomaniaCluj County CouncilLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThe overall objective of the project is to support the preparation of a sound project pipeline in Cluj County for an integrated municipal solid waste management system, to be funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
One person, one idea - A better life for allRomaniaPrahova Labour InspectorateLocal levelEmployment, labour related affairs and gender equalityThe project implementation will result in two main types of outcomes: becoming an eco-friendly institution and being the promoter of green alternatives in its relations with companies.
Eco school patrolRomaniaRoman City HallLocal levelPublic administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reformIn 2010, the city launched the challenge of Roman ‘Eco School Patrol’, a local project with a real potential for regional expansion.
Radical innovation in energy policy and management of towns and cities in the province of Barcelona - The public-private partnership (PPP) as an opportunity for an effective climate protection policySpainBarcelona Provincial Council – Evironmental ServicesLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThis produces a double benefit, environmental and economic: a reduction in CO2 emissions, which must be more than 20% by 2020, a reduction in consumer spending bills, and increased revenue by selling new electricity produced by local authorities.
First cross-border urban ecology agency of the european unionSpainEixo Atlántico do NoroesteRegional levelRegional policy and development, decentralisationThe idea was to create an innovative instrument, which gives technical support to municipalities from the Galician – North of Portugal Euroregion, offering them management tools and specialised training, generating resources, developing studies and conducting dissemination and outreach activities.
Plan of municipal efficiency in public lightingSpainEuropean Grouping of Territorial Cooperation Duero-DouroLocal levelPublic administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reformThe Project for Energy Efficiency in Public Lighting of the Border is based on the 2000 ESE Plan which has as its primary objective to install a lighting system that is energy efficient, while also being environmentally sustainable.
Think green - The business case of renewable energies in spainSpainMinistry of Industry, Tourism and TradeNational levelPublic administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reformThe government’s zeal to impel renewable energy led to strong growth in the industry and in related employment.
Remote management, use of non-drinking water, and local legislation - A global solution for efficient water management in sabadell's green areasSpainMunicipality of SabadellLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThis project has been undertaken on a joint basis by the City Council’s areas of sustainability and maintenance and has arisen from an initiative, the first of its kind in Spain, for the remote management of irrigation and use of non-drinking water.
Construction of a non-drinking water network in viladecansSpainViladecans City CouncilLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fisheryThis project, proposing the use of new local water resources in Viladecans, implies using regenerated water and well water for irrigating the Viladecans green areas and cleaning its street, is an innovative project as it proposes the use of such resources to irrigate all the green areas covering a surface of 31.2 ha.
Masterplan cleantechSwitzerlandSwiss Confederation – Federal Office of Professional Education and TechnologyNational levelEconomic affairs, competition, SME‘Cleantech’ provides a huge opportunity for innovation and manufacturing in Switzerland, a means of creating jobs and maintaining living standards.
Bites ProgrammeUnited KingdomBelfast City CouncilLocal levelEnvironment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fishery‘BITES’ focuses upon five key modules consisting of (i) waste (ii) procurement (iii) water (iv) logistics and (v) energy, which businesses consider in a structured manner in order to test how they can improve their sustainability by reviewing their regulatory compliance and increase their competitiveness through new staff trainings and changing behaviours with contractors and suppliers.