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This policy paper serves as an overview and analysis of energy efficiency in multi-unit residential buildings in the region of South Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States and Georgia (SEE and CIS). Based on extensive regional work in the energy sector with support from USAID, through a project called Residential Energy Efficiency for Low-Income Households (REELIH), Habitat for Humanity recommends changes in six policy areas to promote energy efficiency in housing and ensure that more people in the region have access to a decent place to live:
Residential building management and maintenance
There must be a system of clearly defined responsibilities in place for housing management and maintenance that integrates energy efficiency into its operational practices. Improving or even professionalizing housing management is a necessary institutional prerequisite.
It is important to develop and implement financing mechanism available and affordable to the residents and bearing acceptable risk to the banking industry. Intervention of government through targeted subsidy or by providing loan guarantees is necessary.
Facilitation of the eco-system of stakeholders
Assistance for preparing and implementing the renovation process is necessary for the successful renovation of the housing stock on a larger scale, as homeowners’ associations do not have the proper competence for undertaking efficient renovations.
Energy poverty reduction
It is vital to interlink housing and social policies seeking to improve energy efficiency in housing. Sufficient measures should be sought to ensure affordable access to energy, to decrease energy poverty, to mitigate social inequality and to improve social well-being in general.
Informational instruments positively affect energy efficiency by promoting informed choices. If potential residents receive reliable, verifiable and controllable information about their future operation costs, they will make more informed choices and the market will adjust.
International cooperation and knowledge exchange
Effective policymaking of any country benefits greatly by international experiences and best examples. Therefore, it is crucial to establish and create opportunities for knowledge exchange and experience sharing in the housing field.
Furthermore, it is crucial to acknowledge that the homeowners should be in the center of the energy efficiency renovations as without the homeowners nothing will happen. Our experience and research showed that energy saving is not the primary motivation for the homeowners, rather the increased level of comfort and “beautification” of their building. Therefore, the power of following patterns turned out to be extremely important, as the visible signs of renovations in one multi-unit building triggered a wave of renovations in neighbouring buildings.