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Energy Poverty Days in Brussels organized by Social Innovation to Tackle Energy Poverty

Another interesting event on the topic of energy poverty in Europe is taking place on November 20th and 21st in Brussels.

Energy Poverty Days

are organized by an initiative called Social Innovation to Tackle Energy Poverty. This initiative is co-created by the Schneider Electric Foundation and Ashoka under the aegis of Fondation de France and accompanied by a local partner Enel Romania.

This event is the final stage of the Social Innovation's program to support innovative ideas and mature projects working in the field of energy poverty in five European countries - Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. 15 projects were selected to join 5 months acceleration program helping them improve the strategy and amplify their positive impact on society and on the environment. This program includes:

The Energy Poverty Days will be a two day conference. Day one is dedicated to a discussion of cross-sectoral perspectives on tackling energy poverty. This will be an interactive session introducing several examples of social innovation and strengthening the network among participants of the project, policymakers, researchers and social entrepreneurs attending the conference. The second day is reserved for finalists' presentations of smart solutions in their project in front of international jury who will choose the winning project for each of the five country. Most successful and winning projects will be awarded with additional grant for further development. You can find more details on the agenda here.

Habitat for Humanity International will not miss this event. Will you?

Being a long-standing partner of UNECE, especially of its Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Land Management, Habitat on Humanity International has cooperated with UNECE on several projects already. Most recently, we have contributed to a new issue of Guidelines on Condominium Management and several of our projects were published in UNECE Compendium of Best Practices. Apart from the publications, our Policy and Advocacy Associate Director, Gyorgy Sumeghy, has been a member of the UNECE Real Estate Market Advisory Group since 2016. This team of specialists assists the Committee on Housing and Land Management and the Working Party on Land Administration to develop stronger real estate markets, addressing the energy efficiency of building stock, affordable and social housing, housing finance, property valuation and registration and land markets and administration.

Affordable housing and urban infrastructure for all groups of the population

During the first week of October 2019, annual UNECE's Sustainable Cities Week took place in Geneva. In the name of "Affordable housing and urban infrastructure for all groups of the population", the discussions of the week were held about the progress and challenges related to the implementation of recent international agreements such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the New Urban Agenda and the Geneva UN Charter on Sustainable Housing. Representatives of national and local governments, private sector, academia and civil society met together to present and discuss with the wider public, as the Sustainable Cities Week is open for everyone interested in the topic.

Ensuring access to decent, adequate, affordable and health housing for all

Among other participants, Gyorgy Sumeghy representing Habitat for Humanity International likewise got an opportunity to speak on a panel dedicated to "Ensuring access to decent, adequate, affordable and health housing for all". He presented main lessons learned from Habitat for Humanity and USAID's REELIH project implemented in Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia, where 30 % to 70% of existing housing stock consists of pre-fabricated multi-storey apartment buildings built between 1960s and 1990s.

Residential energy efficiency for low income households (REELIH) project

There are several key challenges that the REELIH project faces in the countries where it is implemented, when trying to create a functioning market for residential energy efficiency refurbishments. Among others, these are low level of income in general, lack of "ownership" among home-owners, weak legislation for Home-Owner Associations (HOAs), limited access to finance of HOAs and energy poverty in the family and multi-family housing.

REELIH project succeeded in delivering initiatives that helped solving the challenges of residential energy efficiency (REE) in project countries by:

On advocacy level, two areas of influence were recognized:

Thanks to this project, EU-level awareness raising takes place. REELIH project practice is used as an example for further knowledge sharing such as in UNECE Compendium of Best Practices.


In spite of all hard work and successful stories from REELIH project, energy poverty is far from being defeated. Most of all, it is crucial to define the relation mechanisms between residential energy efficiency and alleviation of energy poverty.

This task is challenging due to lacking data from many regions and high share of solid fuels, like wood and coal, used in countryside. Another influencing factor is the nature of HOAs which in fact have mixed social composition and apart from supporting just renovation of buildings, it is important to support individual households, too.

For the research of energy poverty and residential energy efficiency, we have cooperated with Metropolitan Research Institute, Budapest and Building Performance Institute Europe, Brussels. We plan to present the completed research at the regional REELIH conference early next year in Brussels, so stay tuned!

Compendium of best practices on standards and technologies for energy efficiency in buildings in the UNECE region is a fresh publication which collected the best case studies in the UNECE region supporting energy efficiency of buildings.The case studies serve as best practice examples providing practical information as well as inspiration for others.

The report was prepared under the framework of the UNECE projects "Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings in the UNECE region” by the activities of the UNECE Joint Task Force on Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings. The compendium serves as a basis to improve the knowledge of UNECE member States concerning energy efficiency best practices related to existing standards and technologies, so that they will be able to develop and implement more effective energy efficiency policies in buildings.

Due to a specific character of some parts of this region such as Eastern Europe,the report turns its attention to existing building stock and its retrofitting which is a crucial activity for future development and fight against energy poverty in many countries.

Success stories and positive numbers are recorded in the following categories:

As Habitat for Humanity International EMEA has long been working with UNECE, we were approached to contribute with local best practices from the field in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Armenia and North Macedonia thanks to our common project with USAID and delivered four successful case studies focusing on residential energy efficiency.

Case studies are focusing on efficient management and maintenance of multi apartment buildings, organizing homeowners to make a common decision together, raising awareness of the energy efficiency retrofits and its process and creating viable and sustainable financial models to support vulnerable households to reduce their energy consumption. All these components are essential for an "eco-system" of residential energy efficiency to work.

All of the four case studies are included in the report, two of them showcasing REELIH project of Habitat for Humanity International and USAID and other two showcasing work of HFH Macedonia that were possible to implement thanks to their previous residential energy efficiency projects funded by USAID.

The four case studies from HFH network in the UNECE compendium:

We thank UNECE to be the convener of showcasing best practices from the region and enabling to share the knowledge further, so that these cases become a mainstream practice instead of one time project cases.

Find the new UNECE report here. Find more information about REELIH project on this website and here. Find more information about UNECE here

This week, being it on purpose or not, Brussels is hosting not one, but several energy-related events that our representatives from Habitat for Humanity International are attending, too. Experts, stakeholders and activists from all around Europe will meet in one city to discuss the challenges of global warming and ensuring energy security for better future for all. Having tradition since 2006,


organized by the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME), has become the leading event offering many panels, discussions, sessions, workshops and presentations during the whole week between June 17th and 21st, 2019. EUSEW is not an ordinary conference but rather a combination of talks, panels, fair, competition awarding and many other activities promoting sustainable energy innovation. The platform consists of four major events including Policy Conference, Networking Village, Awards Competition and Energy Days which gives space and opportunity, in fact, for everyone to fit in and take part this week. The main pillars of the platform are energy efficiency, decarbonizing the economy, research, innovation and competitiveness, so wondering about housing challenges, this topic surely will be part of the program.

• The Policy Conference
Organized by the European Commission, the main aim of this conference is to provide space for experience-sharing and promotion of energy efficiency practices and renewable energies. Thanks to this event and learning about successful policies, Europe can make a step forward the EU's energy and climate goals. The Policy Conference will take place between 18th and 20th of June, 2019.

• Networking Village
Another part of EUSEW is unique Networking Village which brings the EUSEW community together to forge alliances and provides with space for information-sharing. It is one of the complements to the high-level Policy Conference. The village will consist of Energy Fair, Energy Lab and Energy Talks. Like the Policy Conference, the Networking Village will be open for everyone between 18th and 20th of June, 2019.

• Sustainable Energy Awards
EUSEW Awards celebrate the outstanding ideas transformed into projects and award the year's most successful projects for clean, secure and efficient energy. There are 12 finalists who will be considered by the expert jury and even by you, if you are a European citizen (public vote). The winning projects will be eventually awarded in categories of Engagement, Innovation, Leadership and Youth. This year's competition and voting process is already closed, however, for future competitions, anyone within the EU can submit their recent project that helps work towards the Energy Union. This year's Awards Ceremony will be held on 18th of June, 2019.

• Energy Days
Energy days do not take place only in Brussels and only during the week of the conference but take place throughout months of May and June anywhere in Europe. This project serves as to roof the activities and events throughout whole Europe to promote clean energy transition. Anyone interested in clean energy transition and energy efficiency is encouraged to organize any kind of workshop, conference, competition or anything else related as to engage citizens for action in building Energy Union, let's say in the topic of housing issues as well. There are no limits on size or length of the event. It can be something local or more region-oriented, it can last from few hours to week or month. All the events are available on Energy Days Map.

Find more information about EUSEW 2019 here.

Habitat for Humanity contributed to the new UNECE Guidelines on the Management and Ownership of Condominium Housing thanks to being part of Real Estate Market Advisory Group.

UNECE Real Estate Market Advisory Group consists of specialists assisting the Committee on Housing and Land Management and the Working Party on Land Administration to develop stronger housing real estate markets. Its activities include discussion of energy efficient housing, affordable and social housing, its financing and others.

Being a member of this group, we were able to contribute to reviewing of original document of Guidelines on Condominium Ownership of Housing for Countries in Transition published in 2003. While this original guideline was mostly targeting the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the new Guidelines on the Management and Ownership of Condominium Housing focuses on all the UNECE countries; including Western Europe, the United States and Canada. Successfully updated publication of guidelines was formally approved on October 4th, 2018 during the 79th session of the UNECE Committee on Housing and Land Management held in Geneva.

Throughout the last year, this small group of specialists was meeting regularly and discussed many challenges not only of Central and Eastern European region. HFHI  comments and messages touched exclusively the CEE and CIS countries based on our experience and expertise in this region. Thanks to our REELIH project and regional advocacy done in relation to it, we took this chance to push our messages and provided professional advice.

As the cornerstones for our claims we used three documents developed in regards to REELIH project and Visegrad Four project in Armenia done by HFH Armenia:





Rapid rate of privatization of public housing, lack of maintenance and rising energy costs led to the emergence of low-income homeowners phenomenon and their inability to cope with the situation. Moreover, the collective decision-making of new homeowners brought other complications, that ended up with slow deterioration of multi-apartment buildings.


Hence, our main contributions to the updated condominium management guidelines included:

Find more information about condominium management guidelines here.

Find the press release about new publication here.

The end of the last year was accompanied by the annual event, the Conference of Parties (COP24), this time held in Katowice, Poland where the talks on climate change challenges took place. Among other things, discussed was also the vision for climate neutral Europe. In reaction to that, World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), in an open letter, calls for recognition of unparalleled potential of the built environment sector which could significantly add to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement as well as the EU2050 long-term strategy.

Addressing the results of the recent report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), buildings account for :

36% of all emissions

40% of energy and 50% of raw material extraction

1/3rd of all potable water usage

18 million construction jobs in the EU

Based on this fact, the EU2050 should and has to prioritize the reduction of operational carbon emissions in buildings. At the same time, it must recognize the full life cycle impacts of the built environment sector. WorldGBC sees resolution in strengthening the cooperation between the European Commission and countries, cities, companies and even citizens to deliver renovation strategies in building sector. Otherwise, the success in net zero emission economy is not reachable.

Main points made by WorldGBC:

Find the open letter in full here.

The 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) took place in Katowice, Poland from 2-14 December 2018. The main task of this UN climate conference was to negotiate and agree on different topics regarding the principles aimed at full implementation of the Paris Agreement, a “rulebook” to sustainable global climate policy signed in 2015. The preliminary goal of Polish Presidency was to adopt The Paris Rulebook and create a universal systemic solution and a comprehensive approach to all important areas of emission instead of concentrating only on fragmented point-based objectives.


Main topics of the conference:
Paris Rulebook

COP24's key outcomes include the Paris Rulebook which is the first ever flexible system applicable for all Parties with tracking and reporting function of progress in climate action. This will allow Parties to communicate the progress and practices and compare with other actors. In regards to the EU, the rulebook will help delivering the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework.

Part of the Paris Agreement is also Global Stocktake Process which works on a mechanism of five-year cycle of countries' reviewing and reporting on progress towards the long-term Paris goal - avoiding, or at least controlling, the global warming. The structure of the stocktake process will be divided into three stages:

Among the stages, there is also a section on "loss and damage" which refer to unavoidable impacts of climate change, added especially as a response to vulnerable and developing countries.


WHO's COP24 Special Report: Health & Climate Change

The World Health Organization (WHO) was asked to contribute to COP24 with a special report on climate change in regards to health challenges connected to the issue. The initiative was built around the argument of delivering the sensitiveness of health to climate variation and change as well as its consideration in creation the policies and other programs. It is to point out that not only economic benefits are connected to tackling the climate change, but so is the overall health of populations.

In the report, WHO refers to air pollution as to one of the most direct linkages between climate change and ill health. Polluting energy systems are recognized as a heavy source of climate change and air pollution.

According to their research, almost four million deaths a year are caused by indoor pollution from use of solid fuels for cooking in poor households.

Section dedicated to residential and other buildings points out mostly to improper ways of heating and cooking as the main challenge especially in low and middle-income countries and other rural populations in different regions. Using inefficient stoves or even open fires means burning solid fuels and thus contributing to climate change and health issues, too.

Nearly three billion people lack access to clean fuels and stoves for cooking.

What is important is the fact that to step from polluting energy system does not necessarily mean to invest only in renewable energy. It is the best and most efficient way but in poor regions, replacing other solid fuels with, for example, liquified petroleum gas can bring a significant difference, even though it is still a fossil fuel.

Another problem identified by WHO is heavy subsidization of fossil fuels which in fact lowers its price and causes overconsumption. They call for investing more in clean energy and even give an example of households possibly benefiting from lowered clean-burning liquid petroleum gas prices in exchange from using polluting solid fuels producing indoor air pollution.

Special initiative (2016) was proposed by the European Commission in case of coal and carbon-intensive regions in transition so that they can also benefit from clean energy transition which is one of the preliminary goals of Clean Energy for All Europeans Package.

Find more information about COP24 here.

Find WHO's COP24 Special Report in full here.

Find Energy Efficiency Magazine for COP24 here

European Commission's Directorate-General for Energy and the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises prepared a guide that gathers more than 60 good practices meant to support a clean energy transition in the CESEC[1] region. It was launched at the Sustainable Energy Investment Forum that took place on 28 June in Sofia, followed by the CESEC High Level Group Ministerial meeting on 29 June. The good practices presented in the guide are the results from projects supported by the Intelligent Energy Europe and Horizon 2020 programmes addressing key energy efficiency areas of relevance for the CESEC region.

The projects provide examples of actions that have already or are expected to have a significant impact in the targeted regions, as well as best practice methods that could be replicated in the future. The guide also includes a short country-by-country analysis, which provides an overview of the key energy efficiency indicators, such as energy consumption trends concerning primary and final energy consumption, and energy intensity levels per sector of activity (industry, transport, residential and services).

Good practice example projects were grouped into the following topics:

Read the publication online here.

[1] Central and South-Eastern European Energy Connectivity (CESEC) initiative brings together nine EU Member States - Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, and eight Energy Community Contracting Parties - Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine

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