Kościerzyna is a picturesque town located in the northern part of Poland, in the Kashubian Lake District. With many beautiful lakes and forests, this area is considered to be one of the most beautiful regions of Poland, what supports the development of tourism.
The history of the town dates back to the year 1284 and up to this day it has preserved its medieval urban layout – the restored city market square with historic architectural structure, neo-Gothic town hall and a beautiful fountain. At present the town has a population of about 23 000 inhabitants. Through national and voivodeship roads it is well connected with the metropolitan area of Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot.
Kościerzyna is an economic and touristic centre of the region. In the town there is located the only Railway Museum in the northern part of the country (created in 1922), as well as the unique in Poland and the third in Europe Accordion Museum, where visitors can admire nearly 120 exhibits from Poland, Italy, France, Germany and Russia. Undoubtedly, a great attraction of the city is also the Old Brewery, located near the market square, which is the perfect example of uniting modern technology of brewing with tradition dating back to 1856.
Increasing direct involvement of citizens in creation and implementation of local social policy is an important part of the efficient management of the municipality. Nowadays, in Kościerzyna there are operating and co-working with local government 68 NGOs. Each day more and more citizens actively participate in the local government’s works by taking part in meetings with inhabitants, debates or consultation of strategic documents. A proof of citizens’ involvement in social life of the town is also the setting up the Youth Town Council or the Senior Town Council.
Enterprises operating in the municipality of Kościerzyna are mostly small and medium-sized construction, trade and service companies. The most dynamic sector of the market is the tertiary sector. The problem is town’s low entrepreneurship index. This is caused by low level of the county’s urbanization – there are no cities except for Kościerzyna here – and relatively poorly developed transportation network. Such a situation in the region does not attract investors, which effects in higher unemployment rate than average in the country and in other parts of Poland. Also unfavourable is the fact that a great amount of unemployed are the people under the age of 25, what often forces them to migrate to larger urban centres.
When it comes to climate, Kościerzyna is located in the coldest and most rich in rainfall part of the Pomeranian Lake District. The region is characterized by the highest number of days with weak wind or no wind at all and the lowest number of days with strong wind. The town is located in the basin of Wierzyca river, surrounded by three lakes – Gałęźne, Kapliczne and Wierzysko. Moreover, two small rivers – Bibrowa and Kamionka run through the town.
Environmental protection in Kościerzyna
Due to Kościerzyna’s location in the Kashubian Lake District and its unique landscape, local authorities decided to focus municipal development strategy on tourism and environmental protection. For many years different environmental investment have been implemented in the municipality, including:
- modernization and build-up of the sewage treatment plant together with the expansion of the sewerage system,
- liquidation of local boiler houses and connecting new buildings to the district heating system,
- expansion of the district heating network (additional 9,5 km of the network constructed in the years 2010-2012),
- modernization of the main heating source, including implementation of innovative technology of co-combustion of coal and biomass,
- complex thermal retrofitting of most of the public utility buildings managed by local authorities,
- running of the wide programme of environmental education.
All implemented investments and activities contribute to the improvement of local environment and will help Kościerzyna to become a health resort in future. There are, however, still some problems that the town has to overcome to achieve this target – mostly related to the relatively high levels of gases and dust emissions to the atmosphere. Most of these emissions come from fossil fuels combustion and include such pollutants as: ash, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.
Therefore, the municipality decided to concentrate more efforts on air protection and sustainable energy use. As a result of this decision, in 2011, Kościerzyna joined the Covenant of Mayors and – as a Covenant signatory – developed and started implementation of the Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP). The SEAP, whose development was supported within the Green Twinning project, envisages a number of actions that will help the town to reduce its CO2 emissions by at least 20% by 2020, as well as to increase its energy efficiency and RES use. Kościerzyna’s mission, outlined in the SEAP, is to become an energy efficient city with clean air, significant RES use, modernized energy infrastructure and environmentally friendly and socially friendly transport. This will be achieved by implementation of investments and soft measures envisaged in the plan, as well as by supporting environmentally friendly entrepreneurship and environmental education.
Up-to-date achievements in terms of energy saving, RES use and climate protection
For many years the municipality of Kościerzyna has been implementing different actions aiming at climate and air protection, increasing energy efficiency and increasing RES use. Already in the 90-ties the municipality started the process of liquidation of local boiler houses and connecting new buildings to the district heating system. In 2006 – in order to decrease CO2 emissions – Kościerzyna modernized its main heating source (K-1 boiler house) and implemented innovative technology of co-combustion of coal and biomass (wood chips). In 2008 second main heating source (K-2 boiler house) was equipped with the biomass boiler. Moreover, in order to reduce heat losses, municipal heating network is successively replaced with new, pre-isolated one.
Another measure implemented by Kościerzyna is thermal retrofitting of municipal and multi-family residential buildings. Thermal retrofitting of public utility buildings is connected with the modernization of their lighting and installation of solar collectors and heat pumps.
In order to actively involve citizens in improving energy situation of the municipality, Kościerzyna is implementing a Programme for liquidation of low emissions – it co-finances replacement of old and exploited boilers with more ecological ones or liquidation of old boilers and connecting the building to the district heating system. The municipality also included in its spatial development plans regulations what kind of heating sources may be used in newly constructed buildings and facilities.
Also important in terms of climate and air protection are investments aiming at the modernization and expansion of municipal road network. The investments include also modernization of the street lighting (including installation of LED lamps) and launching of the municipal public transport.
The investments are complemented with soft measures, including many educational and information campaigns addressed to children, youths and adults.
All implemented measures already resulted in 6% reduction of CO2 emissions when compared to the levels from 2000.