Case study: Project ECOPROFIT

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History

"Saving money and helping the environment by combining financial gain and ecological benefit schemes [1]." The City of Graz, the capital of the federal state of Styria, is the second largest city in Austria and economic heart of the province of Styria[2]. The City of Graz is nowadays increasingly renowned for its exemplary efforts for sustainable development and known as a leader in integrating ideas of sustainability into the city developing plans and policies [3]. In the early 1990s, the region of the City of Graz experienced serious problems caused by air polution; the environmental situation reached a critical stage[4].


In response, the Environmental Department of the City of Graz and the Graz University of Technology cooperated to develop and implement a local environmental management initiative in the City of Graz using integrated environmental technologies to strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) economically and simultaneously improve the local environment[5]. This resulted in 1991 by project ÖKOPROFIT (ÖKOlogistics PROjekt Für Integriete Umwelt-Technik), the ECOPROFIT (ECOlogical PROject For Integrated environmental Technology) which shifts environmental policy from the "end of pipe" stage to the "in process" stage and helps to protect the environment and reduce costs for business by methodological supporting companies of all kinds and sizes to introduce and improve its environmental management schemes[6] [7].


The model ECOPROFIT has been adopted as itself by towns and municipalities all over Austria and abroad or modified to local different circumstances while the main approach remained the same[8]. For the first time it was implemented in Germany as part of the Munich Agenda 21[9][10]. The ECOPROFIT approach is used in Graz, Vienna and next in cities in Austria, 60 more cities in Germany, in Italy, in India, in Colombia, in Korea, in China as a model of cooperation of the community with regional companies[11].

The City of Graz has received a number of international awards for the project ECOPROFIT. The project received the "European Sustainable City Award 1996" and the "Dubai International Award for Best Practices to improve the Living Environment 2002". It was also a finalist in the "Bremen Partnership Award Contest 2001"[12]. By awarding EU the City of Graz has become the first European Sustainable City[13].

The project ECOPROFIT has been successful thanks to its unique way to local authorities, businesses and consultants. All interested groups work together through common training programs and networking. This provides an effective flow of information, know-how and considerable synergies. Operational objectives as same as the idea of environmental protection which fits to region are equally major for the future diversification of the local economy and a guarantee for creating new jobs. The economic, ecological and social value of ECOPROFIT perfectly complies with the three dimensions of sustainable development[14] .

The priority is the permanent further development of the project. Wishes of the participants were for example development of the tourism or small companies with less as 10 employees. Projects are financed through public grants and through contributions from participating companies[15] .

Structure of the ECOPROFIT Program

"ECOPROFIT® builds on a step-by-step plan consisting of an academy, a basic program and a subsequent club program[16]".

At the Academy consultants and local authority representatives are trained via “train the trainer” program, which is comprises of: seminars at the academy, of the the formulation of a practical implementation concept and of the presentation and certification.[17]

The ECOPROFIT Basic program lasts approximately one year. Project managers organize and manage whole project. Consultants hold workshops and help to establish the objectives. The basic program has following steps. The first step Preparation and Licence Agreement. For the implementation is important the signing of the License Agreement by the region or city. The holder of license is the CPC Austria. The preparation comprise Acquisition of companies, Project organisation, Creation of a project schedule and Promotion and PR. The second step is the kick of event. Kick-off Event This is the presentation of objectives for politicians, for local authorities and for participating companies. The next step is workshop series, when the ECOPROFIT®-Know-how is transferred into the companies. "Employees of the participating companies are trained on various aspects of integrated environmental protection focusing on energy, water, material stream management, production- and process-analysis, waste-management, environmental controlling, business- and environment-related legislation etc.. The several subjects are demonstrated and compiled through practical manuals and worksheets." Parallel to the workshop-series is Operational Implementation. “Through the combination of workshops and individual consultation the acquired know-how remains within the company.“ Last steps are Evaluation and Examination by the Commission and Certification of the Companies.[18]

Conclusion

This project proves that Austria was one of the first country that started to apply those principles in environmental protection which later become fundamental for local Agenda 21. Austria is one of the leader in sustainable development and it is a valuable source of information, know-how and good examples to the rest of the world.

Thank you for your reading, please send your comments to the discussion.

Sources

  1. http://business.metropoleruhr.de/en/consulting-service/information-for-entrepreneurs/oekoprofit.html Wirtschaftsförderung metropoleruhr GmbH - Information for entrepreneurs - Ökoprofit
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graz#cite_note-grazpraes-1 Graz, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  3. A Short History of the City of Graz
  4. http://eportfolio.lib.ksu.edu.tw/user/T/0/T093000023/repository/09A0031.pdf The Case of Municipal Policy Enhancing SMEs through an Environmental Approach
  5. http://www.cpc.at/oeko/oe_WasIst_e.htm CPC-Austria - ECOPROFIT® - The idea
  6. http://eportfolio.lib.ksu.edu.tw/user/T/0/T093000023/repository/09A0031.pdf The Case of Municipal Policy Enhancing SMEs through an Environmental Approach
  7. http://business.metropoleruhr.de/en/consulting-service/information-for-entrepreneurs/oekoprofit.html Wirtschaftsförderung metropoleruhr GmbH - Information for entrepreneurs - Ökoprofit
  8. http://www.nszm.cz/cb21/archiv/akce/_nszm/nszm06/sekce06/vsetin/prez_Rakousko.pdf Local Agenda 21 - Sustainable City Graz Austria
  9. http://business.metropoleruhr.de/en/consulting-service/information-for-entrepreneurs/oekoprofit.html Wirtschaftsförderung metropoleruhr GmbH - Information for entrepreneurs - Ökoprofit
  10. http://www.stenum.at/en/?id=produkte/oeko/oeko-intro STENUM GmbH. - EcoProfit® Ecological Project for Integrated Environmental Protection
  11. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/sme/pdf/okoprofit_en.pdf
  12. http://www.cpc.at/oeko/oe_WasIst_e.htm CPC-Austria - ECOPROFIT® - The idea
  13. http://www.nszm.cz/cb21/archiv/akce/_nszm/nszm06/sekce06/vsetin/prez_Rakousko.pdf Local Agenda 21 - Sustainable City Graz Austria
  14. http://www.cpc.at/oeko/oe_WasIst_e.htm
  15. http://www.cpc.at/oeko/oe_WasIst_e.htm
  16. http://www.cpc.at/oeko/oe_1-2_e.htm
  17. http://www.cpc.at/oeko/oe_1-2-1_e.htm
  18. http://www.cpc.at/oeko/oe_1-2-2_e.htm