When we think of funding the energy-efficiency projects, we often focus on funding the measures themselves, such as isolating walls, roofs, and floors, and improving good ventilation at homes. The Dutch CEFS takes a much more strategic approach by prioritizing the establishment of a solid structure for a collective sustainability. This approach sets the foundation for more robust and far-reaching results. I spoke to Joost Verheijen, the coordinator of the programme at Energie Samen.

Urszula Papajak: Could you briefly explain how the CEFS works?

Joost Verheijen: The project is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Internal Affairs who has entrusted the Participation Coalition (comprising Energie Samen, HIER, De Natuur en Milieufederaties, Buurkracht, and LSA-bewoners) with 250 neighbourhoods. Energie Samen is overseeing a fraction of that group. We work with 15 energy cooperatives, they then identify 75 neighbourhoods that need support on energy efficiency. Our main goal is to create structures for collective sustainability.

UP: What does that mean?

JV: We want to make sure that in all our neighbourhoods a collective action on energy efficiency is possible. In many of these neighbourhoods energy communities are still non-existent. So the structures for a collective action is missing. We first want to help everyone interested in setting them up and make sure they have the necessary support to implement the energy efficiency measures.

UP: When did you start?

JV: The program started on January 1, 2023, initially planned for one year. Due to its success, we have received financing for this year and have a positive outlook for next year.

UP: What is your role in the project?

JV: Energie Samen's role is to manage the process, monitor the progress, and facilitate knowledge exchange through bi-monthly "communities of practice" events. We also publish materials to share the experience we have gathered through the project with all our members.

UP: How do you monitor the success of the projects?

JV: We have a monitoring system where cooperatives fill out a spreadsheet monthly, which we then discuss with them. The Participation Coalition also regularly discusses the progress of each partner.

UP: How does the fund work?

JV: It's a grant from the Ministry of Internal Affairs distributed among the five partners of the Participation Coalition. Energie Samen then distributes the grant to 15 cooperatives. They then use it for setting up and coordinating energy communities.

UP: What is your success rate?

JV: Last year we set up energy communities in all the neighbourhoods where they did not already exist. A large part of these communities are now able to operate independently.