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 Dorota Kucharska, who serves as an Eco-manager in Nawojowa.
- Eco-advisers already function in almost every municipality in Małopolska, but perhaps not everyone yet knows what an “Eco-manager” does. Can you tell us more about what your work consists of?
I work in the position of Eco-manager at the Nawojowa Municipality Office. The position was created as part of the integrated LIFE program “Implementation of the Air Protection Program for the Malopolska Region – Malopolska in a healthy atmosphere”. On a daily basis, I advise residents on choosing a new source of heating, and help fill out applications for subsidies, not only for boiler replacement, but also for thermal modernization of the building. I also provide information on other available subsidy programs, such as: “Clean Air”, “My Heat” or “My Electricity”. I perform inspections of household hearths of residents of the municipality, as well as an inventory of heat sources and fuel-burning sources. He also deals extensively with the eco-education of residents, not only the older ones, but also the younger ones. I organize meetings, lectures at schools and educational and ecological stands during municipal events. In addition, it also cooperates with local leaders.
- Nawojowa Municipality is very active in terms of organizing eco-events. Which one are you most proud of?
In the last we joined the event titled “Clean up Malopolska with us”. Nawojowa municipality took part in this action for the first time. All schools, organizations, institutions in the municipality took part in it. For everyone it was an important lesson in environmental protection, and I also think that the amount of waste collected exceeded the expectations of all participants. I hope that the action will become part of the tradition of activities in our Municipality. Such events testify to the growth of environmental awareness. It is known that in addition to educational activities, we support residents with subsidy programs for replacing boilers. The municipality of Nawojowa has again received funds for replacing stoves under the project “Reduction of low emissions in the Nawojowa municipality through subsidizing the replacement of heat sources to gas and biomass in residential buildings – II” implemented under the Regional Operational Program of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship for 2014-2020. And this is also our success.
- What problems do residents most often come to you with? What do they ask about?
Residents who come to me at the Office mainly ask about the available subsidy programs for replacing boilers and thermal modernization of buildings. They come for advice on which heating source to choose. Residents also appear, wanting information about the provisions of the anti-smog resolution. Each case is individual, and to each resident I try to approach and help as best I can. First of all, with a smile on my face, so that everyone can feel at ease, as there are many times when it is necessary to guide a resident “by the hand” from the beginning to the end of the application.
- Eco-managers must be familiar with the rules and regulations of many grant programs. How do you improve your qualifications?
Working as an Eco-Advisor requires constant upgrading and acquiring knowledge. In fact, all the time up to date, the Eco-Counselor must keep abreast of changes in subsidy programs. He must orient himself in new regulations. This is very important, because it is to us that residents come and seek answers to nagging questions. There are questions not only related to the issue of submitting an application, but also, what can I do to save heat? How to pay less for bills? That’s why the topic of comprehensive thermal modernization of the building is coming up more and more often. The Marshal’s Office often organizes conferences and trainings, thanks to which we enrich our workshop. In addition, I am just finishing my postgraduate studies at the Department of Energy and Fuels at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Cracow, majoring in Air Protection and Energy, so that I can work even better with the residents of our municipality.
- Dorota, you deal with many residents on a daily basis. What valuable advice and tips could you give them based on your experience as an Eco-manager?
My already more than three years of experience as an Eco-Advisor has given me the opportunity for professional development through numerous trainings and contact with people. With great commitment, I try to convince residents that even small changes in everyday life, can contribute to improving air quality. The available subsidy programs for the replacement of boilers or thermal modernization of the building are a good form of support and you should not be afraid of difficulties in applying, asking various questions. You just need to come to the Eco-advisor, because only with joint efforts, we can improve the state of our environment. The problem of smog exists, we can not downplay it, together must take steps to eliminate this phenomenon.