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Sustainable Energy for Rural Communities (SUSTAINCO)

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The project Sustainable Energy for Rural Communities (SUSTAINCO) aims to support the EU vision for the energy performance of buildings. The project will build capacity within the partner countries through exposure to best practice of to design and retrofitting of buildings. The project builds on the successful experience from the CONCERTO project SERVE. The main aim of SUSTAINCO is to increase the visibility of front-runners, for both new build and renovation. SUSTAINCO will directly select and facilitate development of 8 high profile proposed NZEB projects (1 per each participating region) and also provide support to 50 NZEB projects as follow ups to already launched pilot projects. The project will also provide training of key market actors, policy makers and also an extensive information campaign to rural communities' citizens. Another important aspect of SUSTAINCO project is the focus on rural communities, which are often neglected in implementing European or national schemes or programmes. Through the development of this capacity within the partner regions engagement of rural regions in the Covenant of Mayors will be facilitated.


  1. Target groups addressed and examined (WP1);
  2. Stakeholder database created (WP2);
  3. NZEB  Status in partner countries examinated (WP2);
  4. Technical and Financial toolkits created (WP2);
  5. 40 Case studies elaborated (WP3);
  6. Created Materials for Capacity building events & Training for Project Developers (WP4);
  7. 20 Capacity building events (for professional and non-professional) in seven countries (WP4);
  8. 13 Trainings for project developers (WP4);
  9. 13 pre-feasibility studies produced (8 was the original project target);
  10. Nearly 40.000 enquiries recorded via telephone and e-mail, four times more than expected.

Lessons learned

  • National legislation and standards are of crucial importance. Many governments have adopted national NZEB definition at the end of the project (e.g. November 2014 in Croatia).
  • The limited capacity of public administration, especially in rural municipalities, is a main barrier for greater NZEB uptake. Massive training and technical assistance is still needed in all project partners’ countries.
  • The perception of NZEB is often wrong and there is general reluctance to move away from traditional building design and technologies.
  • The limited financial capacity of local governments/municipalities is a serious barrier in many parts of the EU, as their low budgets compared to central governments prevent them from supporting NZEB projects.
  • EU structural funds were identified as potential new financial models to support greater NZEB development.
  • Main requests from the stakeholders include education and trainings of architects, building material manufacturers, builders, standardisation and national legislation.
  • Currently, there is little interest in going beyond low cost buildings following minimum EE standards due to the economic crisis, especially in rural areas. However, project results demonstrated that there is a space for new and innovative approaches. 

Partners and coordinator

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Regionalna energetska agencija sjeverozapadne Hrvatske
Contact point: 
Dr Julije Domac


Key documents

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In brief

04/04/2012 to 03/04/2015
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