Shaping a brighter future: Braga's holistic approach to tackling energy poverty
19 January 2024
Portugal's rankings in European statistics on energy poverty reflect a significant challenge, with 17.5% of Portuguese households struggling to maintain adequate warmth in their homes (Eurostat, 2020). The Municipality of Braga is actively seeking comprehensive solutions to address this critical issue.
Altino Bessa, Municipal Councillor for the Environment and Climate Change, highlighted: “In the municipality of Braga, the main priority is citizens, particularly the most vulnerable. Alongside this maxim and practice, our daily work is based on the incessant search for methods and strategies that allow us to provide greater comfort and well-being to the entire population when it comes to energy issues. We have developed work that allows us a fruitful symbiosis between the strategies outlined and applied in the energy aspect and knowledge. We believe that only from these two elements (practice and knowledge) can we offer more economical and sustainable options to citizens.”
In a bid to make tangible progress, Braga has engaged in various initiatives. Collaborating with Coopernico, an external service provider, the municipality conducted impactful training sessions on energy poverty and renewable energy communities. House visits and energy-saving guidance for vulnerable households yielded positive evaluations, underlining the programme's effectiveness.
Renovation efforts are underway in social neighbourhood buildings, targeting increased energy efficiency through insulation of facades, roofs, and window frames. However, extending these improvements to other areas faces challenges in community engagement, emphasizing the need for simultaneous rebuilding and training initiatives.
Braga's support programmes for citizens, including subsidized purchases of energy-efficient lightbulbs and facilitation of energy efficiency renovations, have garnered widespread popularity. The overwhelming demand highlights the necessity for streamlined processes and increased budget allocation, prompting calls to the national government for wider implementation and reduced bureaucracy.
To bring these endeavours forward, Braga joined the Sun4All Community of Practice in 2023, underlying its commitment to addressing energy poverty comprehensively. Within this collaboration, the Municipality of Braga and its partners are dedicated to multifaceted objectives:
- Mitigating energy poverty in social neighbourhoods
- Establishing an inclusive model for broader intervention within and beyond the municipality
- Engaging in community training and environmental awareness initiatives
- Combating energy illiteracy and fostering behaviour change
- Reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions through strategic interventions
The municipality's specific targets emphasize social well-being and energy self-sufficiency in neighbourhoods like Andorinhas and Praceta Sena de Freitas (representing ca. 350 inhabitants). They aim to install photovoltaic panels for 75% of residents in flats owned by Bragahabit, the Municipal Housing Company of Braga. The overarching goal includes enhancing thermal comfort, minimizing health risks associated with temperature exposure, and reducing monthly bills and consumption for these residents.
Braga's comprehensive efforts reflect a community-centric approach, signalling a dedicated commitment to addressing energy poverty while fostering a sustainable and equitable future for its residents.
Image (Braga Municipio)