LIFE Project Cover Photo

Experimenting and communicating sustainable lifestyles to promote Energy Autonomy

Reference: LIFE12 INF/AT/000369 | Acronym: EKO-LIFE



In 2007, the Vorarlberg Region initiated a central energy-political programme. As part of this, an ‘Energy-autonomy 2050’ plan was launched in 2011. This is a participatory process – involving local and regional stakeholders – whereby short term actions are being developed until 2020, including measures to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at a local level. (These actions will pave the way for medium – to long term actions after 2020.) Within these short term actions, a communication strategy has been developed. This communication strategy formed the basis for the EKO LIFE project.


Although there is general awareness of environmental problems, individual contribution to CO2 emissions remains very high. The EKO-LIFE project therefore aimed to address the environmental consequences of global warming and our ‘materialistic’ lifestyles at a local level. The overall project objectives were to reduce human-induced GHG emissions. Specifically, the project aimed to encourage Vorarlberg citizens to permanently change aspects of their daily lives, particularly relating to choices concerning mobility and nutrition.

The project also sought to develop an institutional structure whereby such behaviour change would continue and develop further after its duration.


The EKO-LIFE project introduced experimental spaces, that is, sites where everyday scenarios were developed to create concrete and enjoyable opportunities for people to experience alternative, more sustainable practices, and to encourage a change in their behaviour. These experiments involved different test groups made up of couples or individuals who participated for a period of at least three weeks i.e. this was considered the minimum period necessary in order to change habits/ routines.

The two main areas of focus of these experiments were car mobility and meat-based nutrition. Two major target groups were selected: young families (i.e. couples aged between 20 and 40 years, high or medium income earners, with children attending school); and so-called ‘mid-agers’ (i.e. couples or individuals aged between 40 years and retirement, medium income-earners). In total, over 500 people took part in various experiments that were implemented in close cooperation with intermediary partners. Thus in various trial settings and over a period of three to four weeks, the participants were able to sample alternative mobility and nutritional practices.

In order to raise awareness and encourage replication, the participants were encouraged to act as ‘Change Ambassadors’, i.e. sharing their experiences within their social networks. Their success stories were used in an intensive information campaign based on conventional means of communication, marketing and campaigning. These included websites, brochures, posters, use of social media and radio spots addressing Vorarlberg citizens. The goal was to show what is possible by using real stories and to support the participants as multipliers in their communities.

The project was completed successfully. It met and even exceeded its targets. All the planned experiments (a total of 24) were finalised, with a total of more than 550 people participating. The objective of reducing CO2 emissions by a target of 1 700 tonnes was exceeded, with a total reduction of 2 000 tonnes. Importantly, the methodology applied appears to be sustainable, as the impulse for changing people’s behaviour (estimated at 10 000) over the project period, is expected to have a long-lasting effect.

The main successes are summarised as follows:

  • All the foreseen experiments (24) were accomplished: 14 covered nutrition, while 10 focused on areas of mobility;
  • A total of 557 people were trained; 375 people changed their habits during the experiment and over 1 300 people in their environment were also involved in the changes;
  • An overall reduction of 2 000 tonnes CO2 was achieved during the project period (aim: 1 700 tonnes). This was due to less use of own vehicles and involvement of companies (e.g. e-bikes, shared cars) and less meat consumption (126 tonnes);
  • A total of 41 000 inhabitants of Vorarlberg were informed about the campaign (aim: 26 000 people); and
  • Over 10 000 people have partly changed their behaviour towards CO2 reduction (aim: 2 000 people).
  • The evaluation of the results showed that long-term positive effects can be expected due to changes in the behaviour, not only in the fields of mobility and nutrition, but also generally, towards a more sustainable consumption. There is a multiplying effect and it is estimated that each participant in the experiments could lead to changes in behaviour by a multiple of four.

    The results of EKO-LIFE are transferable to other regions. The project has a high demonstration value and the approach was innovative. The project approach has already been transferred to Italy (South Tyrol).

    Finally, the Austrian Vorarlberg Region has pledged a commitment to fuel independence and energy autonomy by 2050, with an overall vision of achieving a long-term energy supply that is safe, environmentally sustainable and affordable (with price stability). The EKO-LIFE project contributed to this goal, by influencing a positive change in people’s behaviour towards a reduction of GHGs. It also contributes to the following EU legislation/ climate action policies: the 2020 Climate & Energy package, Roadmap for moving to a low-carbon economy in 2050; and 7th Environmental Action Programme.

    Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


    Reference: LIFE12 INF/AT/000369
    Acronym: EKO-LIFE
    Start Date: 01/07/2013
    End Date: 30/06/2016
    Total Budget: 775,599 €
    EU Contribution: 387,713 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Energieinstitut Vorarlberg
    Legal Status: PNC
    Address: Stadtstraße 33, 6850, Dornbirn, Österreich
    Contact Person: Karin Feurstein
    Tel: 4355723120254

    LIFE Project Map



    • Environmental training - Capacity building
    • Awareness raising - Information
    • GHG reduction in non EU ETS sectors


    • public awareness campaign
    • consumption pattern
    • emission reduction
    • environmental training
    • greenhouse gas
    • social participation
    • environmentally responsible behaviour
    • climate change mitigation
    • mobility


    • COM(2014)15 - Policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030 (22.01.2014)
    • COM(2011)885 - EU 2050 Energy Roadmap (15.12.2011)


    Name Type
    Energieinstitut Vorarlberg Coordinator
    ALLMENDA Internationaler Medienverbund regGenmbH, Austria Participant
    Österreichisches Ökologie-Institut, Austria Participant
    Fachhochschule Vorarlberg GmbH, Austria Participant