Recently, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) published three in-depth national studies focusing on the state of residential building stock in Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and the Republic of Moldova.
The UNECE was set up in 1947 and it is one of five regional commissions of the United Nations. UNECE’s major aim is to promote pan-European economic integration. UNECE includes 56 member states in Europe, North America and Asia and over 70 international professional organizations and other non-governmental organizations take part in and help UNECE achieve its objectives.
As a multilateral platform, UNECE helps in achieving greater economic integration and cooperation among its member states, as well as it promotes sustainable development and economic prosperity.
Out of all sectors of economic activity, the buildings sector has the largest potential for cost-effective improvement in energy efficiency and emissions reductions.
To help capitalize on this potential, UNECE has developed the three studies under the project “Enhancing National Capacities to Develop and Implement Energy Efficiency Standards for Buildings in the UNECE Region”.
The purpose of the study for Armenia
The “National study and detailed gap analysis between the performance objectives of the Framework Guidelines for Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings and implementation of current building energy efficiency standards in Armenia,” is a report analyzing the energy performance of buildings, implementation of current building energy efficiency standards and providing country-specific recommendations to bridge gaps and enhance national capacity to develop and implement energy efficiency standards for buildings.
The main purpose is to highlight the state of multi-family apartment buildings (MFABs) in Armenia, especially concerning their energy performance. The report also includes some other important elements, such as the status of legislature and audits regarding energy performance in Armenia, as well as many other relevant policy and project highlights that succeeded in uplifting the situation in Armenia.
The national study in Armenia revealed that buildings are one of the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). 18 per cent of the total GHG emissions is from fuel consumption in the residential buildings. The share of the residential buildings in total final energy consumption is 38 per cent. At the same time, the building sector presents significant energy saving potential, which can be realized through the effective use of modern energy efficient technologies and practices, reinforcement of robust certification systems for energy efficient buildings, and energy efficiency lending by international and local financial institutions. The Government of Armenia has put efforts into effective enforcement of recently adopted legislation in the building sector. Some relevant technical regulations and standards have also been adopted to improve the effectiveness of the whole regulatory system in the building sector.
The report itself outlined the major deficiencies of MFABs, as well as some recommendations that should be taken into consideration, not only when it comes to the renovation of energy inefficient buildings built in the second half of the 20th century, but also when it comes to relevant legislation, maintenance, and cooperation between the major parties interested in improving Armenia’s situation. In a major move, the report also drew attention to the fact that Armenia should be inspired by the way other post-socialist states dealt with these buildings, such as Czechia or Poland with their establishment of associations of housing unit owners, which centralized all the relevant decision-making, thus making renovation and upgrades easier.
As an example, energy audits of multiple residential buildings proposed a standard set of measures which can bring to as much as 65 per cent energy consumption reduction:
- Insulation of external walls
- Replacement of windows and entrance doors
- Windows replacement by walls (reduction of window area)
- Roof insulation
- Installation of gas boilers with high efficiency (≥ 92 per cent) for space heating, with possibility to demand side management (thermostat control, consumption-based billing)
A success for Habitat for Humanity Armenia
We are very glad to see Habitat for Humanity Armenia‘s long lasting efforts mentioned in the document, where UNECE recognizes their hard-work in partnership with universal credit organizations, with whom Habitat Armenia implemented housing microfinance projects that helped low- and middle-income families receive loans from financial institutions to improve their living conditions. These families used the loans to renovate and repair their homes, improve energy efficiency, and to create access to renewable energy. Through its housing microfinance projects, Habitat Armenia also provides technical assistance to families and partner financial institutions through training programs, construction technical advice and informational brochures. Other programs involve renovation of common areas of residential buildings, residential energy efficiency for low-income households and access to renewable and efficient energy in the municipalities of Vayk and Spitak.
Apart from these activities, Habitat Armenia has long been working on reforming the legislation on the management of multi-apartment buildings. The Armenian government reformed a law according to Habitat Armenia’s recommendations in late 2020, which had been advocated for since 2015. According to this law, each building shall have a separate bank account for the management of its funds, which will increase the overall transparency of the fund management for each building. For more information, you can check this blog.
Armenia has a considerable untapped potential to improve the energy efficiency of its buildings, but several barriers and challenges must be addressed if notable progress is to be achieved in the coming decades.
In some cases, deep renovation is not possible in only one step, mostly because of the high initial investment. International collaboration is likely to remain the key for ensuring both the short-term success and the long-term viability of Armenia’s efforts. Best EU practices, already applied is some countries, show that renovation can be a long process that allows measures to be done step-by-step to maximize the final effect and reduce the energy consumption as much as possible.
As the report summarizes, Armenia still has a long way to go when it comes to energy efficient renovation. Despite this, the work that has already been done in rejuvenating the building stock makes a case for any future projects, as there definitely is a need and will to do more. The only thing that remains is to get the work done.