Energy education for sustainable urban localities

Working together for a green, competitive and inclusive Europe

Photo by Matt Jones on Unsplash

April 26, 2024

Small urban localities in Romania often find themselves on the periphery of national discussions about energy transitions, yet these communities face unique challenges that demand focused attention and support. The ENERTOWN project, funded by Innovation Norway and spearheaded by the Centre for the Study of Democracy in partnership with the University of Stavanger (Norway) and the Circular – ECERA Association, alongside Servelect, has been taking an active role in this discussion from April 1, 2023, to April 30, 2024.

Over the past year, ENERTOWN has facilitated interactions between project experts and community members in four pilot cities: Turda, Câmpia Turzii, Gherla, and Huedin. These interactions were part of an extensive exchange of best practices, highlighted by a visit to Norway in October 2023, which provided profound insights into efficient local governance and community-driven energy solutions.

The project’s strategy was built around several phases: raising awareness, diagnosing issues, building competencies, assisting in local policy development, and their implementation. Initially focusing on raising awareness, ENERTOWN contributed to the community’s understanding of energy transition. George Jiglău, president of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, reflected on the series of community meetings that proved to be the most enriching.

Despite the variability from one local context to another, a collective discontent was evident concerning the often non-transparent and uncoordinated manner in which central actors (governmental entities or private companies) communicate with local administrations. “These meetings with citizens were the richest in content, helping us also enrich our level of understanding of how such macro dynamics are perceived locally,” said Jiglău.

One notable example discussed was Huedin’s transition to natural gas, contrasting with broader European and national trends moving away from gas. The switch from wood to natural gas generally had a positive impact on local life quality. Jiglău mentioned the importance of flexibility in energy sources, especially in mountainous areas where winters can be severe.

Key takeaways from the project include:

Communication, coordination, cooperation: There’s a critical need for more transparent and coordinated communication between central and local levels and enhanced cooperation among cities to undertake joint projects for funding.

Resources and funding: The importance of equitable distribution of European funds and cooperation among small city municipalities to access these funds.

Role of schools in community development: Active involvement of schools in educating about sustainability and energy transition within the local community.

Drawing from the project’s extensive field experience, the ENERTOWN team has produced informative materials synthesized in the ENERTOWN Guide. This guide addresses the challenges of modernizing buildings to improve thermal efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions, outlining available technical and financial solutions. It emphasizes the impact of energy poverty, the need for well-targeted policies, and investments in sustainable technologies.

As the project wraps up, the ENERTOWN team is committed to continuing its dialogue with local authorities to support the development of local policies focused on enhancing energy efficiency and combating energy poverty. They are also exploring ways, including financial, to replicate this experience in other small urban municipalities.

This initiative represents a vital step forward in the sustainable transformation of small urban areas across Romania, promising to extend its impact into future community and policy-making endeavors. The full version of the press release (in Romanian) can also be consulted here.

The project “Energy Education for Sustainable Urban Areas – ENERTOWN” is funded by Innovation Norway through the Norwegian Grants 2014 – 2021 ( – Working together for a green, competitive, and inclusive Europe), under the “Energy Programme in Romania,” with funding of 195,774 EURO and a grant value of 174,696 EURO.