Five questions to Célia Morais Laranjeira

Célia Morais Laranjeira is the head of the Division of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Municipality of Águeda. She participated in the works of the Inter-municipal team of the agency for sustainability and Competitiveness projects, the Coordinator group of the Local Agenda 21 and the Covenant of Mayors team in Águeda.

Can you shortly describe the project where you applied the innovative financing models? What financing instruments did you use?
Águeda is a small but one of the most industrialized cities in Portugal. It used to be infamous for being polluted, however now it is recognized as one of the most sustainable cities in the country. We decided to develop a revolving fund for energy and water efficiency. This fund was established in order to finance municipal initiatives thus it is not accessible for private entities or individuals. Through this fund, we support various departments of our municipality in carrying out renovations of buildings that are owned by them. The fund helps to retrofit schools, libraries, stadiums and other municipal buildings. However, not all refurbishments can be covered by this revolving fund, only the parts of investments that are related to energy or water efficiency. Let’s imagine that you want to retrofit a school and the project includes implementing micro-generation units and changing pavement in front of the school. Our revolving fund will finance only one part of the project: the micro generation units but not the renovation of the pavement.   

How did the idea of developing a revolving fund come to you?
Well, Águeda  was kind of chosen. We are one of the partner cities of the Infinite Solutions project and we were responsible for developing a revolving fund.

How useful do you find the innovative financing instruments? What advantages can you see?
The revolving fund helps to implement the renovation projects sooner than it would have happened if the fund did not exist. In Águeda, we understand the importance of implementing  energy efficiency measures but sometimes it is not easy to demonstrate to the public that thanks to those investments we can really save money. The revolving fund can publicly demonstrate, that by implementing energy efficiency measures we are making savings and that is an additional benefit of this financing instrument.

What where the biggest problems in implementation of the innovative financing models in your municipality?
We still are experiencing some difficulties. The first one was related to developing regulations for the fund. We got inspired by our partners from other European countries but they function in different realities and legislative frameworks. We had to adapt they experiences to our Portuguese reality and develop regulations that would be in line with the Portuguese law. Also receiving approval for those regulations from the city council and the city assembly was a long process.  

How do you evaluate the whole experience?
There were some difficulties, development of a revolving fund it’s not a piece of cake. However the benefits of this fund in Águeda are significant and allow us to realise our policy goals.

More information about the project carried out in Águeda can be found on the website.