The development of the STEP project in Portugal has boosted collaboration between STEP partner DECO and local municipalities to tackle energy poverty. In September 2021, DECO took the opportunity of the local elections to create the Consumer Agenda for Local Authorities, which demanded action from municipalities in four essential areas, including sustainability and housing. The agenda called for:
- Local renovation programmes to improve energy performance of social housing
- Promotion of the use of renewable energy as well as self-consumption solutions via energy communities
- Adoption of self-consumption solutions in social housing and disadvantaged communities
- Building retrofit projects in which municipalities play a key role, linking with the rental and tourism sectors
The work that has been done in co-ordination with the municipalities will lead to the establishment of energy and housing support desks – essentially, the one-stop-shops that will be key to energy retrofit projects across Europe. The work of the one-stop-shops will be a collaboration between DECO and local authorities, financed by the municipalities. The one stop-stop-shops will share information on energy poverty and energy efficiency measures, renovation projects and guidance for consumers, including vulnerable and low-income consumers.
As an example, the Municipality of Évora is in talks with DECO to create a one stop shop dedicated to multi-unit buildings and social housing. This one stop shop would integrate energy poverty into its support, as well as tackling the governance of multi-unit buildings, which can often have many barriers to renovation. While these measures have to be passed by municipal assemblies, DECO remain hopeful for a positive result.
“We believe that one stop shops are an essential tool, not only to guarantee the energy transition at a local level but also to ensure universal access to housing,” commented Paulo Fonseca of DECO. “The STEP programme highlighted the importance of one stop shops, and we jumped on the opportunity to develop a role for DECO within them, as well as improving and deepening our relationship with municipalities.”