A village living the sustainable dream
A blueprint for energy transition
Nestled in the foothills of a Catalonian mountain range is a small village that packs a big punch when it comes to Europe’s sustainable energy future. Avià is showing Europe how citizens in local communities can engage in the energy transition, helping the EU achieve its climate and energy targets. In 2015, the local council in Avià adopted an easily-implementable blueprint for boosting renewable energy, energy efficiency and environmental protection. This cut down its carbon emissions and lowered its demand for expensive fossil fuels, benefitting both citizens and local authorities.
“Our sustainability measures are designed to give direct environmental and economic benefits to the people who live in Avià – that is why our energy transition is hugely popular and a real inspiration to other local councils across Catalonia and wider Europe,” said Josep Subirana, town councillor in Avià, Spain and main motivator behind the initiative.
Avià’s public sector alone saves over 300,000 kilowatt-hours in energy each year – a 60% reduction compared to before 2015. This means that the village saves €50,000 and 90 tonnes in carbon dioxide emissions a year, not including private buildings.
Bringing tax savings for citizens
With a budget of less than €350,000, Avià’s council took a range of relatively simple and attractive steps. First, they reduced local taxes for any citizens taking green measures like fitting solar panels on their roofs and insulating the facade of their house.
In public buildings, solar panels were installed, lighting was switched to LED, buildings were better insulated and only 100% renewable energy companies could bid to supply electricity for public buildings and lighting in the village. Meanwhile, the village has been planning a joint purchase of solar panels for citizens who cannot fit them on their roofs.
The local authority significantly improved the door-to-door recycling scheme, boosting recycling to 70% of the village’s waste. They also implemented measures to protect natural wildlife in the local river, promoted car-pooling with special parking spots set up and installed charging points for electric and hybrid cars.
The village also set up schemes to compost tree trimmings, banned the pesticide glyphosate in public spaces, and provided dog waste bags to dog owners as well as dog waste composting facilities.
Providing a model for sustainability
With its easily-replicable model, strong citizen engagement and bold political decisions, Avià is clearly doing as much as it can to become as efficient and sustainable as possible, providing a model for villages to help the EU achieve its climate and energy targets.
“Being nominated as finalist for the EUSEW Awards gives my sustainable village model the recognition, legitimacy and acceptability it needs. It helps people open their minds and get behind the [energy] transition” Subirana said.
In addition, Avià also promotes green sustainable practices in Tambacounda, a village in Senegal. It provides a €5,000 grant to fund the installation of a solar pump and solar panels by a woman’s cooperative to enable them to water a hectare of cash crops (sold for profit) during the dry season and supply energy to a rural hospital.