Renovation: Staying on top of the wave is a new publication by FEANTSA. In early December, 2020, FEANTSA organized a dedicated online roundtable where this new report, commissioned to Catrin Maby, Member of Welsh Government advisory group on housing decarbonisation and Member of British Standards Institute Retrofit Standards Task Group, was launched. During the event, Catrin Maby gave a presentation about the report. This presentation was followed by an open discussion, with contributions from Ciaran Cuffe, MEP from Group of the Greens, and Paula Rey-Garcia from the European Commission DG Energy – Energy Efficiency Unit. We would like to thank FEANTSA for organization of this event. We very much appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this discussion by our presence and to have a chance to put more light on REELIH project and the special case of privately owned multi-apartment buildings in Eastern Europe and the challenge they pose for energy efficiency retrofits and alleviating energy poverty.
About Renovation: Staying on top of the wave
This report is a continuation of FEANTSA’s activities to contribute to the effective implementation of the Renovation Wave under the European Green Deal and to highlight the potential social risks associated with energy renovation programs.
“Low-income groups are most impacted by the climate crisis and energy poverty, and their needs must be addressed by the Renovation Wave going forward.”
The report reflects upon the current situation in the EU where more than 50 million households experience energy poverty. It means that these households are not able to afford the energy they need to meet their basic households needs, such as heating, cooling, hot water, or domestic appliances. This is an issue resulting from energy inefficient buildings and appliances in a combination with low household incomes and high energy costs. FEATNSA, in this publication, provides a comprehensive analysis of different energy renovation and retrofit projects, with a particular focus on social element of this process.
FEANTSA defines a “win-win-win” scheme which should serve as a guiding principle when working on alleviation of energy poverty. The three wins are:
- carbon reduction
- increased comfort
- energy cost savings
Assuring that all the three “wins” are met after the instalment of energy improvements in buildings is a challenging task and is affected by multiple factors. The aim of this report is to highlight the risks connected with the implementation of energy improvements so that all social groups benefit from the renovation works equally.
For the analysis, FEANTSA selected numerous examples to illustrate both positive and negative impacts and outcomes of energy projects. All of the examples are projects including energy improvements, but at the same time, not all of them are primarily focused on energy. One of the chapters is dedicated to projects which ended up having unintended negative impacts. In this way, FEANTSA was able to identify the risks connected with energy and renovation projects for future use. Lack of longer term monitoring and the evaluation of energy renovation programs, including their social impact, are identified as crucial step for more comprehensive understanding of complex renovation works.
REELIH project as an example of good practice
REELIH project, provided by Habitat for Humanity International with a financial support from USAID, was identified by FEATNSA as one of the successful projects serving as an example of good practice. Our project is showcasing how to work on energy efficiency improvements in multi-apartment buildings with a high number of homeowners. According to FEANTSA, REELIH’s emphasis on providing solutions for low-income households recognizes the social need that must be addressed. Our example is included in Chapter 3 on Programmes to support lower income home-owners to renovate, which presents a specific approach to housing energy renovation due to its specific support provided for low or medium income private home owners.
Positive and negative social impacts
Based on the analysis of selected projects, FEANTSA was able to create lists of both positive and negative impacts of renovation works with an emphasis on social aspect.
Positive social impacts
- reduced risk of energy poverty
- reduced rent arrears and voids benefitting social landlords
- neighborhood stabilization and wider community benefits
- local job creation and economic benefits
- Provision of decent housing conditions for low income households
Negative social impacts
- basing rent increases on unrealistic energy savings
- landlords financing renovation costs through rent increases
- loss of affordable housing supply
- gentrification, population displacement and loss of community and local social networks
For the final part of the report, FEANTSA prepared a set of recommendations for future projects based on their findings. Among their recommendations, you can find:
- Integrated policy, including protection of vulnerable lower income households against financial risks
- Providing quality housing for all, by supporting small scale retrofit projects and providing support to grass root civil society organizations and local authorities
- Realistic approach to the need for climate finance
- Ensured technical quality, such as carrying out full energy assessments and quantification of energy cost for renovations with realistic occupancy patterns for lower income households
- Communities and people, not just buildings, meaning tailoring building renovations and regeneration to the needs of the existing populations and building in community participation in renovation planning
It is indeed a success for REELIH project to be presented as a good practice in yet another publication. We very much appreciate another FEANTSA’s recognition of our project and USAID’s financial support for this project, too.
Find more information about FEANTSA here.
Find more information about Renovation Wave here.
Find the fact sheet about Renovation Wave and the European Green Deal here.