The benefits of increased energy efficiency have been discussed for years, but until the ECF got involved around 2008-09 this discussion was largely confined to technical experts and narrow sectoral perspectives (e.g., mineral wool insulation manufacturers). Early on, we recognised the need to frame energy efficiency in tangible ways that people would care about, to link energy efficiency to the bigger picture – including climate change, economic competitiveness, job growth, poverty, and the reliance on imported fuel – and to make it a political issue, not strictly an environmental issue.

Advocating for Change with a United Voice

With that objective in mind, we set out to bring together a broad spectrum of constituencies (trade unions, industry and consumer groups, NGOs) in a coalition that could effectively advocate for policy change with a united voice. The result was the Brussels-based Coalition for Energy Savings, co-founded in late 2009 by the ECF and eight progressive industry groups.

It took a few years to build trust among the members, but by 2011 the coalition was ramped up, ready, and well equipped to coordinate advocacy efforts on the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) legislation. Over the course of that year it became a one-stop shop for the European Commission as EC policymakers sought input and support for the EED.

Many More Now on Board

The Coalition for Energy Savings now comprises 26 member organisations representing more than 400 associations, 150 companies, 15 million citizens, 1.5 million employees, and 1,000 cities and towns in 30 countries across Europe.

As membership has grown, the organisational model has changed as well. It has evolved from a 50:50 funding split between the ECF and industry members in the early years to a sustainable business model based on membership fees and an effective governance structure that others seek to emulate. The RAP and BPIE serve as technical advisors, while ECF-supported NGOs and consultants provide the horsepower for the Coalition’s advocacy and communication strategies.

What Next?

Looking forward, we understand that the projected savings under the EED will be realised only if countries implement the legislation to its full intent. Making this happen will require continued pressure and expert input by the ECF and our partners in the field. The Coalition’s Online Guide for Strong Implementation is designed to help stakeholders navigate the requirements of the EED and provides a “top 20” checklist for effective implementation.

Meanwhile, the debate on a 2030 climate and energy package for Europe has begun, and we are striving for a coherent and mutually reinforcing framework – with a binding target for reducing energy demand front and centre. Based on our experience with the EED, we know that it’s never too early to start building consensus on issues that may seem very far down the road.

To learn more, please visit the Coalition for Energy Savings website.

Read the Coalition’s October 2013 position paper calling for a binding 40% energy savings target for 2030.