“The Power of Energy Audits” is the slogan of a new European initiative called innoveas that took off in Bologna, Italy, this week. The objective is to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to facilitate the access to energy audits – a comprehensive analysis of a company’s energy usage – to identify ways to increase their energy efficiency and thus reduce costs and CO2 emissions.
SMEs are companies of less than 250 employees and are often run by the owner. “SME managers have to address many issues with fewer resources than a large company and energy usage may not be at the top of their agenda“, says Patrick Crehan, from CKA, a management consulting company in Brussels, Belgium who is the project’s innovation manager. “We need to understand their needs, how they make decisions and speak a language they understand. We should appeal to their priorities and know if they are interested in energy, carbon, climate or a broader role in society?”, Crehan says.
Gabriele Quinti from Knowledge & Innovation, a research organisation from Rome, is studying the obstacles for SMEs to run energy audits and adopt energy efficiency measures. Lack of time and information could be some of these barriers, as well as a lack of capital funds to adapt the proposed energy efficiency measures after an audit. This is one of the reasons, why innoveas targets also financial institutions, who could support their customers in adapting energy efficiency measures.
The initiative, which consists of ten partners from six countries, plans to provide a three-step training scheme, using online tools, in-class training for companies and a preliminary energy audit for the companies interested in exploring this opportunity. Luisa Sileni is the coordinator of the innoveas project and works for IIPLE (Istitute Professionale Edile Bologna), an Italian institute that provides training to professionals in the construction sector. “The trainings will be organised by different partners in Germany, Poland, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Slovenia”, she explains, “and we are aiming to train more than 1.000 SMEs representatives to raise awareness about energy audits and their implementation. If everything goes as planned, this training initiative could trigger additional savings of primary energy usage of at least 8.000 GWh/year by 2027.