Developing green master craftsmen to save energy and generate jobs

The Green Business Growth in SMEs project in the region of Southern Denmark is successfully creating new jobs by helping small businesses undertake energy efficiency renovations in residential and office buildings.

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Green Business Growth, which was launched in July 2009, is targeted at small businesses and in particular the master craftsmen, who are being retrained in the techniques of energy-saving renovation.

The project takes its inspiration from the EU Directive on energy efficiency which encourages public authorities and private business to focus on measures to aid energy efficiency and to help achieve the EU’s goal of three million new green jobs by 2020.

Green Business Growth is a public-private partnership between three municipalities and fourteen private partners, covering businesses involved with production, consultancy, entrepreneurship, finance and education.

Greener businesses

The local initiative has targeted the energy efficiency of single family detached homes by deploying energy concepts and new business models which support SMEs wishing to work in the energy renovation sector. SMEs showing an interest are offered a full support package designed to provide them with the required skill sets for undertaking energy renovation and the marketing of their services.

The project has targeted the creation of 300 new, green jobs over the period of 2010-2013 within businesses promoting energy efficiency in existing buildings.

In the three municipalities involved (300 000 inhabitants) the retraining approach for local master craftsmen has been tested and refined. The innovative aspect of the strategy is to re-train the master craftsmen so that they can operate as ‘energy ambassadors’ towards customers and internally within their companies. They are encouraged to develop, innovate and self-manage their business, and also to team up and arrange partnerships cross-professionally.

As part of the service provided by Green Business Growth, energy fairs targeted at private homeowners and owners of large buildings are organised, where potential customers can learn about energy efficiency and the trained master craftsmen can offer their services though a free energy check-up of buildings.

Energy efficiency strategies for enterprises

To support the marketing effort, different demonstration projects have been set up to show potential customers the scope of energy efficiency.

‘Project Lowenergy’ transforms a 1970s single family detached house to a low energy standard through a radical low energy renovation of the façade, windows, heating and ventilation. Also available is advice on financing and loan options so that each customer only needs one partner to 'energy renovate' all parts of his house. Under ‘Project Coathouse’ a 1940s two-story brick house has been renovated to low energy standards using locally manufactured glass fibre composite components on the façade.

Ultimately the SMEs should be capable of developing their own business strategy including energy efficiency programmes and products aimed at customers covering private households, companies and public buildings.

‘The approach has now been tested and refined and is available for easy adoption by other cities, municipalities or businesses.The up-scaling of this concept to the national level could mean a potential of 6 000 jobs nationwide in Denmark in three years,’ says Lotte Lindgaard, Project Manager of Green Business Growth.

By the end of the project in 2013, some 165 new jobs were created. Energy master craftsmen who participated in Green Business Growth experienced 29 % income increase in 2010-2012 vs. status quo for similar businesses in DK. After the end of the project the activities were continued in a new public-private partnership and later merged into the Danish clean-tech cluster Clean.  Here the project continues to promote energy efficiency in buildings. All in all 225 energy master craftsmen were trained, 21 energy events with 20.000 participants were held and 300 house owners were offered either energy check-ups or education in evening courses.

The Green Business Growth master craftsman retraining approach is now well developed and shown to be economically sustainable with a participant fee. The energy fairs are now such great success that exhibitors are willing to pay to join. The ambitious goal of three million green jobs in the EU by 2020 related to energy efficiency and renewable energy can, we believe, be met by adopting whole or partial concepts tested and developed by Green Business Growth.’
Lotte Lindgaard, Project Manager, Green Business Growth

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