One of the key tasks of the NEES Project Partners was defining Criteria to identify and promote Best Practices in the region, a Work Programme that was led by Glasgow Caledonian University. Partners were aware of a large number (around 600) different types of accreditations in existance. These ranged from Energy Ratings, based on the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive, to Energy Label and Eco-Labels, to more specialised procedures for accrediting entire buildings as well as materials. The Partners decided that all these systems served very specific functions that did not necessarily reflect the particular aims of NEES so they developed a generic system for selection and accreditation of Best Practices, based on specific criteria defined by the NEES Project. The Evaluation Criteria was grouped into five broad and equally weighted categories, summarised below:
- Resource Efficiency: This covers the energy efficiency improvement made by using the product / service, lifespan and maintenance, and life cycle issues such as the use of recycled materials, processing and disposal at end of life.
- Environment and health: This covers the use of ‘natural’ materials sourced from environments in the NPP, the impact on climate change of their production (their embodied energy – i.e. their cradle-to-gate / site carbon footprint), and any other environmental or human health impacts from production, installation and use – such as pollution and the use of hazardous materials.
- Sustainability: This category covers the longer term sustainability of supply and distribution networks, ‘bioregionalism’, how the use of the product / service reflects regional architecture, and compliance with conservation legislation. This will allow experts to reward products or services that meet the broader NEES objectives but could be made more sustainable in the long term (for example by improving the efficiency of the supply chain) if demand were to increase as a result of involvement with the project.
- Enterprise: This category covers the current status of the product / service (and, if applicable, the range of products / services) on the market, including costs of installation and maintenance, current turnover of the company / organisation, and the status of any existing competitors.
- Scalability : This covers the future market potential of products and services in light of current opportunities or barriers to achieving a greater market share, and allowing for the assessment of the likely benefits of promoting the product or service through NEES. It serves as a counter-balance to ‘Enterprise’ by rewarding products or services with a high potential to grow their market share through involvement with the project.
EVALUATION PROCEDURE AND ROLE OF THE EXPERT PANEL
In order to apply this Criteria and select Best Practices from the entire region, the Partners opted to hold a series of public Calls (totalling 3) asking for submission of a completed questionnaire by any producer or service provider who felt they might qualify as a Best Practice. The evaluation of these submissions was carried out by a Panel of seven independent Experts nominated from each region. These Experts had recognized experience in their field (architecture, engineering, energy, etc.) and evaluated the products or services submitted on the basis of the NEES Criteria. Experts were required to declare any financial or commercial interests with the applicants at the outset of the meeting and excuse themselves from the relevant discussion(s).
SELECTION OF BEST PRACTICES
The 3 Calls produced over 100 submissions, that were first screened for eligibility (e.g. being in the NPP region, using renewable or recycled materials, etc.). The short lists were then evaluated by the Expert Panel, first remotely, then by 3 meetings to secure agreement on the results. This process concluded at the end of December 2013, with the selection of a total of 15 Best Practices. These selected Best Practices were highlighted in the original NEES Web Site, promoted through various press releases, at public and brokerage events and exhibitions for the duration of the NEES Project.