-Written by Barbara Audycka, Advocacy Officer, Habitat for Humanity Poland
Poland is currently experiencing a big turnaround in regard to national housing policy, with the introduction of the Home Plus program as well as the revision of the thermo-modernization policy being an important part of the process. Habitat for Humanity Poland is actively taking part in the consultancy process with the aim of introducing the issue of energy poverty into the government’s agenda.
In Poland, the responsibility for energy efficiency-related issues is shared between the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Construction. Moreover, some instruments of energy poverty prevention (such as fuel allowance) also fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policy. However, no interdepartmental body has been established to manage the issue and the relevant stakeholders are only in the very early stages of their advocacy work.
The framework of thermo-modernization in Poland covers the thermal refurbishment of all types of residential and municipal buildings (including schools and hospitals); the local district heating network and local sources of heating; and the installation of renewable energy sources or high efficiency energy equipment. Thermo-modernization has traditionally fallen within the area of competence of the Ministry of Infrastructure that is responsible for the program based on the 1998 Act on Supporting Thermo-modernization and Repair of Exploited Buildings (dedicated mostly to multi-family housing). The program is based on a premium constituting a repayment of part of a commercial loan distributed by the State Development Bank. The premium is only offered after a thorough and costly energy audit and is based on the estimates of the annual energy savings. Therefore, despite having been offered to cooperatives, condominiums and individual owners, it has ultimately only helped to renovate mostly bigger units. The program’s evaluators have also pointed out a ‘creaming’ effect – in practice, the premiums were distributed among the units which were well-managed and inhabited by families with high financial and cultural capital.