02 November 2023

Becoming energy-efficient with Interreg

Written by Elena Kolosova
Interreg transnational cooperation has incubated the transition to the energy-efficient and green Baltic Sea region. Cities and regions have worked together to address energy efficiency in a long-term perspective. They have developed common approaches and tested new solutions to become energy efficient. We reflect on 25 years of Interreg Baltic Sea Region cooperation for better energy efficiency.
Reviewing national energy policies

Energy is a crucial driver of economies and societies, but it is also a major contributor to global warming. Interreg projects have played a significant role in promoting energy efficiency in the Baltic Sea region. In the mid-2000s, projects reviewed national policies on energy efficiency in building stock and initiated renovation in residential buildings in Estonia, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.

Renewing residential areas

From 2009 to 2013, cities and towns learned to plan comprehensive energy renewal of residential areas and energy refurbishment of historical buildings. Project partners also constructed a sustainable, energy-efficient student dormitory in Klaipeda, demonstrating jointly developed engineering and building technology standards in new buildings.

Margarita Golovko, Monitoring Committee member from Estonia, Ministry of Regional Affairs and Agriculture

“Recently, one of the topics raised in Estonian newspapers was about renovating building stock and new regulations by the European Parliament.
It will be a challenge for many Estonian local governments to cope with energy-efficient renovation of buildings. But there is one municipality, the Rakvere city, which may soon become the first city in Estonia with most of the building stock already renovated. I tend to believe that such outstanding results are possible – to a large extent – thanks to Rakleve’s involvement in Interreg projects.

In 2005, Rakvere was involved in the project BEEN: Baltic Energy Efficiency Network for the Building Stock, financed by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region IIIB Programme. The project dealt with energy efficiency and refurbishment of residential buildings. Then they participated in the project Urb.Energy, which was about developing concepts and strategies for energy-efficient renovations of residential areas. Later on, they also participated in some more specific cross-border projects on the same theme.”

Implementing sustainable energy actions with residents 

From 2016 to 2021, cities in projects revised their sustainable energy action plans and trained building managers and energy auditors for retrofitting, upgrading, and deep renovation of buildings. They also installed modern LED lighting in walking and cycling areas to promote active mobility and energy savings of up to 50%. Cities strengthened their work with residents, educating them on how to lower energy consumption. They set up local energy efficiency groups involving public organisations like schools, transport agencies, businesses, homeowners, and residents.

Jens Kurnol, Monitoring Committee member from Germany, Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development


We also had some good local and regional energy projects, for example Urb.Energy, Area 21 or BEA-APP. The knowledge gained in these projects on neighbourhood energy concepts helps a lot in the accelerated transition from fossil fuels.”

Moving toward climate neutrality

On the policy level, projects developed recommendations on how to mainstream climate into new European Structural and Investment Funds to accelerate the transition towards climate neutrality. They proposed measures such as improving energy efficiency through the reconstruction of buildings and district heating systems on a wider national and regional scale.


This year, our Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme is celebrating its 25th anniversary. For more examples of #MadeWithIBSR project results and testimonials of great people who have helped shape the regions with us,  visit our birthday celebrations page!

Want to know more about the projects that have been helping cities and regions become energy efficient? Flip through the project examples below:


Baltic Smart City Areas for the 21st century
The Interreg project AREA21 involved local and regional public authorities, energy providers, public property owners and citizens from six countries and improved cooperative planning processes by applying ICT-based tools for visualisation of energy consumption and upscaling good practices in energy saving to a district level.
Read more about the project

Act Now

Act Now: Action for Energy Efficiency in Baltic Cities
The Interreg project Act Now tackled energy efficiency in the existing building stock in cities across the Baltic Sea region and applied self-assessment and customisation of capacities in energy management to ensure increase in energy efficiency.
Read more about the project


Effective Financing Tools for implementing Energy Efficiency in Buildings
The Interreg project EFFECT4buildings enabled public building managers in eight countries around the Baltic Sea to better plan renovation projects to unlock investments and implement retrofitting, upgrading and deep renovation and, by this, to save energy.
Read more about the project

Green PE

Power Electronics for Green Energy Efficiency
The Interreg project Green PE demonstrated that advanced power electronics are technically feasible, reliable and cost efficient in test applications of electric car engines, wind energy production, as well as smart buildings and compiled a roadmap to accelerate their market uptake.
Read more about the project


Lighting the Baltic Sea Region - Cities accelerate the deployment of sustainable and smart urban lighting solutions
LUCIA helped municipalities in the Baltic Sea region save energy by the deployment of smart urban lighting solutions.
Read more about the project

CAMS Platform

Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Synergies in Energy Efficiency Projects
Local authorities and energy auditors learned how to provide higher quality, quicker, and more holistic energy audits harmonised across the Baltic Sea region based on the knowledge synthesised from a dozen of EU funded projects.
Read more about the project


Co-elaboration of a transnational certification standard and of a tool-box to promote energy transition in green industrial areas
The project GreenIndustrialAreas empowers public authorities to increase the share of smart and climate-neutral industrial areas and co-develop a transnational certification standard.
Read more about the project

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