REELIH Project in Bosnia and Herzegovina

REELIH project in Bosnia seeks to demonstrate that integrated efforts in this sector - addressing market, capacity, and knowledge gaps will bring significant improvements to the living conditions of the low-income families, reduce energy costs and carbon emissions.

The majority of housing stock in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially in the urban areas, consists of pre-fabricated multi-story apartment buildings that are generally of low quality, poorly insulated and maintained. As a result, they provide only a low level of comfort. Residential heating accounts for more than 40 percent of energy use, as in most Balkan countries, because previous construction and heating methods did not focus on energy efficiency. As a result, the highly inefficient energy use aggravates the negative effect of escalating energy prices on low-income households.

Current construction standards and practices for residential buildings in Bosnia and Herzegovina are lagging behind European and international standards that are not effectively applied in construction and refurbishment of old buildings.

It is estimated that in Bosnia and Herzegovina, buildings consume as much as 52 percent of energy while the European level is at approximately 40 percent. The current EU legislation states that the maximum annual energy consumption in buildings is 95 kWh/m2. On average, the buildings in Bosnia and Herzegovina consume more than 200 kWh /m2. Private households even consume as much as 350 kWh/m2.

Bosnia and Herzegovina consumes five times more energy per unit of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) than the EU countries and two and a half times more than the world average. Residential buildings are the largest single consumers of energy and a major source of greenhouse gasses, especially CO2.

It is important to address the problem of residential energy efficiency in Bosnia and Herzegovina because it can reduce energy consumption and help the country move forward on the road to energy reforms. Therefore, the Residential Energy Efficiency for Low-Income Households (REELIH) project established by Habitat for Humanity with the financial participation of USAID seeks to demonstrate that integrated efforts in this sector – both at the regional and national levels – addressing market, capacity, and knowledge gaps will bring significant improvements to the living conditions of the low-income families, reduce energy costs and carbon emissions.

In the first phase, the REELIH project sought solutions for financing, through a combination of subsidies and commercial loans. The project wanted to target at least one demonstration building in each partner municipality in Bosnia and Herzegovina- therefore we had 5 pilot buildings in Tuzla, Tesanj, Zivinice and two in Banovici municipality. The buildings were selected based on clear criteria that are developed by both local financial partners, local governments, as well as Habitat for Humanity International. Most importantly, the homeowners within the selected buildings had to reach a consensus not only on the energy efficiency renovations that they would like to implement in their individual apartments and common spaces but also on their readiness to co-finance these renovations, by means of taking an individual or a collective loan, if necessary.

The REELIH program facilitated this process by providing all necessary information and a tailor-made training program for residential energy efficiency to homeowners’ associations (HOAs) and apartment owners. The program also assist homeowners’ associations when they select the construction companies to work with, independent construction supervisors to oversee the works, and energy audit companies. Through the REELIH project, Habitat for Humanity and USAID intends to demonstrate a market solution for bringing residential energy efficiency to low-income households in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Enova-Consultants & Engineers Company, the implementing partner in Bosnia and Herzegovina, conducted a wide research in Canton of Tuzla focused on the energy performance of each multi-unit building and each individual apartment. According to the findings gathered from energy audits and household surveys, Enova suggested several energy-efficient interventions that the particular buildings would benefit from.

They submitted the extensive study to Tuzla Canton, together with a so-called action plan stating what exact steps the canton should take in order to refurbish the residential buildings and how much money they would need for completion of the renovations. This action plan was approved by canton ministries and

the Tuzla Canton local government has produced a five-year plan focusing on energy use in residential buildings. It is the first of its kind in Bosnia and will support large scale investments in residential energy efficiency across the area.

It is expected this approach will spread to other areas. In the future similar process will be applied to another part in Bosnia and Herzegovina-in one municipality in Republika Srpska.

By 2017, the project had achieved the following:

  • Four buildings (49 housing units, 133 residents) have been retrofitted as pilot demonstration buildings.
  • Wide research in Canton of Tuzla focused on the energy performance of each multi-unit building and each individual apartment.
  • Developed and action plan that has attracted the attention of local government in the Tuzla Canton who have now developed a 5 year plan to retrofit 973 further homes.
  • The plan will provide subsidies to match loans and other funds raised by Homeowner Associations.

The REELIH project became the finalist of the World Habitat Awards 2017 and ended up as a second runner up with the special mention from the judges. Find out more in depth about the whole REELIH project here

Find out more on the Bosnian WARM HOMES website.


Residential Energy Efficiency for Low-income Households project is one of the many assistance projects supported by the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Since 1992, the American people through USAID have provided a broad range of development programs in Armenia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, shifting from an initial humanitarian emphasis to assistance for economic, political and social transition.