Dariusz Zborowski – Eco-manager in Myślenice municipality

Almost 250 eco-advisers work in the municipalities of Malopolska. They are specialists who, on a daily basis, help residents obtain subsidies to replace old stoves. They visit schools, where they successfully share their knowledge about renewable energy sources and air quality.

Meet Dariusz Zborowski, who serves as an Eco-manager in Myślenice.

  • An eco-advisor is an unusual official who works behind a desk. You can be met at many events that you yourself initiate. Is this how it is in Myslenice as well?

It’s true. I myself prepare “eco-activities” for children or “eco-meetings” for adults. Very often I “go out” to residents at a place, time and date that allows more people to participate. I realize that not everyone has the ability to get to the municipality office at certain times. I remind people of the requirements of the Malopolska anti-smog resolution and the very approaching deadline for replacing boilers.

  • You have just finished postgraduate studies at the AGH University of Science and Technology in air protection and energy efficiency. During these studies, you also learned how to communicate efficiently with residents. Do you use this knowledge on a daily basis in your work?

I am constantly improving my workshop. I am committed to ensuring that the resident receives reliable and comprehensive knowledge. On a daily basis I advise on green heating sources, improving the energy efficiency of buildings, renewable energy sources. I support residents of the municipality in the decision-making and application processes for funding. I suggest what to pay attention to when looking for a new source of heating or planning thermomodernization activities. I point out the strengths and weaknesses of various solutions, indicating possible alternatives.

  • It seems that you are a regular guest in Myślenice schools. What does your cooperation look like?

In March, on the initiative of the eco-advisers, several eco-shows entitled. “Something hangs in the air” realized by the Malopolska Science Center Cogiteon. Pupils from all 18 elementary schools in grades III-VI from the municipality took part in them. A total of 1,753 children and their guardians. There was no shortage of experiential demonstrations. As part of another edition of the campaign entitled “Smog-free Małopolska – check what you breathe and change it!” a lung model appeared on the market. At the time, I met with students to draw attention to the impact of air quality on health and life. We also join in the #EUGreenWeek campaigns. This time we conducted interactive activities in classes IV – VI. Such meetings are a great opportunity for discussion and presentation of interesting teaching materials.

  • Replacing a central heating system is a significant cost. Do residents make the decision to replace the stove dependent on subsidies?

Currently, we have several options for receiving financial support to replace a stove or insulate a house. Often the amount of subsidies depends on the family’s income. I suggest how to make the wisest use of subsidies to pay the lowest bills later. I recognize the specific situation, define the needs and help choose the best solutions. I pay special attention to people affected by the so-called energy poverty. In this regard, I cooperate with the Social Services Center, social tutors, family assistants. Some activities require support with local leaders: village heads, councilors, directors of educational institutions, parish priests, the Municipal Police with a view to all channels of outreach to residents, educational and informational activities and control.

  • You have a lot of experience working with clients. In your opinion, can Eco-Consulting be a form of “selling”?

A working model based on the basic pillars of “sales” methods saves my time, as well as the beneficiaries. I do not have to “modify the offer” in the course of withdrawing from promises, proposals. Based on the analysis of a specific situation, a thorough diagnosis of needs and limitations, I am able to propose the most optimal offer. The client – resident also has the confidence that I treat his needs individually. I save time, collect the necessary data, and residents are grateful that they do not have to think about what to ask and what to pay attention to. If we are to implement a large number of grant applications with limited resources of eco-advisors, we should not do everything for residents. That’s why I carefully explain the benefits and plan of action. I support with consultation, but I don’t completely bail them out. This gives me time to provide more comprehensive assistance to the digitally excluded, socially excluded, etc. Beneficiaries should know from the beginning what they are declaring, stating, requesting and committing to. Eco-advisers should have competencies far broader than just a specialist in the Clean Air program. They should be familiar with other subsidy programs, e.g. “My Heat”, “My Electricity”, “My Water”, and inform about them on a cross-selling basis. They need to act as an objective advisor and authority. I would also add that it is worthwhile to work on the basis of prepared tools: scripts, templates, emails that summarize the conversations held and facilitate cooperation.

  • Often you have to convince residents to take measures to insulate their homes. What arguments do you use? What convinces the unconvinced?

If a building is not well insulated and airtight, it automatically becomes energy inefficient, and expensive to maintain. With comprehensive thermo-modernization (here the subsidy is much higher) the bills resulting from operation will be significantly reduced. The environment will also benefit. It is worth noting that the resident, thanks to the energy audit, will know exactly the scope of work that needs to be done to make the building “wallet-friendly”. This is the best investment these days, because it will also increase the value of the building, especially in the context of current regulations on energy performance certificates for buildings. A new eco-friendly heating source is also often more economical and comfortable to use due to higher efficiency and modern operating technology. I also recommend reaching for the “pre-financing” formula, that is, advance financing. Thanks to this, engaging significantly less money, you can more quickly implement a comprehensive investment, which will bring a number of tangible benefits and increase the comfort of life. Residents should take the time to compare at least 3-5 bids for a given scope of work, in order to choose the best one and be sure to spend the allocated funding well. On window joinery alone, price differences can reach PLN 15,000. It is also a good idea to make the most of the entire granted subsidy amount. The more we do, the lower the bills we will pay over the following years of operation. It is not always worth following fashion. An appliance that works great for a neighbor will not necessarily be the best choice for our building. You need to consider several important issues in selecting the right device and components of the heating system.

  • Thank you for your practical tips. I hope your actions will have great results in terms of better air quality, which I wish for all of us.