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ComAct report: Energy poverty in the privately-owned, multi-family apartment buildings

What is ComAct?

ComAct - Community Tailored Actions for Energy Poverty Mitigation is an EU funded Horizon2020 project that aims to make comprehensive energy efficient improvements in multi-family apartment buildings in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and in the republics of the former Soviet Union (CIS).

The key is to make renovations affordable and manageable for energy poor communities, as well as to provide needed assistance for lifting said communities out of energy poverty.

The idea is to identify energy poor households and to create a new understanding of energy poverty. Next step is intervening across the three key dimensions, being it stakeholders and communities, the financial, and the technical one, and finally testing the approach in five pilot countries - Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania, North Macedonia and Ukraine.

Energy poverty is rather a complex concept. Hence a detailed and specific solutions are needed to tackle it, for which there is ComAct with its new report.

The overview report on energy poverty concept

The Overview report on the energy poverty concept is aimed at highlighting the need to tackle energy poverty as swiftly as possible, as it is an issue that acts as a gatekeeper against a higher standard of living. The report was put together by a consortium of organizations that contribute to ComAct - Building Performance Institute Europe, Metropolitan Research Institute, LVOA-ALCO, OHU, ENOVA, IWO, EnEffect, Burgas Municipality as well as Habitat for Humanity International and Habitat for Humanity Macedonia. All of these organizations brought together their best experts in the field of energy poverty and housing to deliver a report on the state of energy poverty within the five ComAct pilot countries, how energy-poor are identified there, and what financial and other supportive programs are in place to support them. Furthermore, the report has identified existing financial schemes from all over Europe, which have been proven to help alleviate energy poverty in multi-family apartment buildings (MFABs).

Some of the key findings related to the concept of energy poverty are:

Energy poverty in the pilot countries

As mentioned above, the report and the ComAct project itself focuses on five pilot countries of the CEE and CIS regions:

Countries in the CEE and CIS regions have the most energy-poor people in Europe, mainly due to high energy prices and poor energy efficiency of the buildings, heating systems and appliances. In these regions, the housing stock is predominantly privately-owned and characterized by a large percentage of MFABs. This is the result of mass privatization in the 1990s, along with the deconstruction of the social safety net: utility and energy costs of the flats massively rose, burdening the family budgets. At the same time, the socialist-era collective maintenance mechanisms were left behind, and the decay of homeowners’ associations has not been addressed effectively with a clear set solution.

To address the complex roots of energy poverty, there is a need to develop a new approach to make interventions affordable, substantially influence energy costs and consequently reduce the high energy poverty level in the CEE and CIS region.

Following is a short description of the state of energy poverty of each ComAct implementing country.

Hungary

Surprisingly, the country has a rather low level of energy poverty compared to other states within the ComAct project. Just around 5 to 10% of households are energy poor in Hungary. It is mostly the rural areas, specifically the family houses that are more affected. Nevertheless, MFABs have a myriad of other specific problems, such as a large number of apartment owners that make renovation more challenging from an organizational point of view. Hungary also uses the term 'vulnerable consumer' for law-making, which is a descriptor of social status. Problem is that there are no socially targeted renovation subsidies available, which might make it harder for Hungary to implement the coming EU Renovation Wave Strategy in the most effective way.

Bulgaria

Among the ComAct countries, Bulgaria has the highest share of energy-poor households, with a whopping 10 to 35% of households being energy poor, and with only 3.6% receiving a heating allowance. The current renovation program also lacks income components to help facilitate an alleviation of energy poverty in the country.

Lithuania

Following Bulgaria, Lithuania is the second energy poorest state, with an energy poverty level of 10-26%. MFABs in cities and towns are more affected than family houses in rural areas. There also is no official definition of energy poverty, but there are some measures like heating allowances and socially targeted renovation schemes, which aim at alleviating the energy poverty stricken owners.

North Macedonia

North Macedonia is very forward thinking, as it already addresses issue of energy poverty in several strategic documents, as well as through policies targeting vulnerable energy consumers. The number of energy-poor households is comparable to that of Lithuania and Bulgaria, which highlights how being within the EU does not automatically mean a higher standard of living, as it takes time and appropriate policy work. Although the condition of buildings in rural areas is worse, the problem of energy poverty is much more severe in urban areas due to the affordability of energy.

Ukraine

Ukraine has a large energy poverty problem since the cancellation of its high energy subsidies during the last five to six years. Not all subsidy schemes were abolished and some are still in place, but as there is a large energy-poor population and the building stock has a very low energy performance, it is difficult to target these schemes at the most vulnerable consumers.

The EU perspective on energy efficiency of buildings

Energy poverty has a long tradition inside the EU, hence according to the known regulations such as the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs), and also as a part of the Renovation Wave Strategy or the EU Green Deal, the EU has dedicated mechanisms to support building renovation, for which money is earmarked within the Recovery and Resilience Facility, as well as other instruments. Problem is though that the EU member state implementation is rather insufficient, and hence energy poverty is still a large issue.

All EU member states should ensure the necessary supply of energy for vulnerable customers and in doing so integrate an approach, which looks at various policy areas that could be used to measure and tackle energy efficiency improvements of housing. Effectively, these directives should acknowledge the existence of energy poverty and say that the protection of vulnerable consumers is a minimum requirement to eliminate it, keeping in mind that energy poverty is a broader concept than that of vulnerable customers.

Existing energy policies

The Clean Energy for Europeans package takes it a step further, as it consists of eight legislative proposals targeting various sectors: energy efficiency, energy performance of buildings, renewable energy, energy security and more. The Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action Regulation also stipulates that EU member states should assess the number of energy-poor households, but measures and solutions are still not exactly clear. Similarly, the Energy Efficiency Directive tackles energy poverty in a way, in which it calls for measures to address vulnerable households as a priority. Lastly, under the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, EU member states are required to outline relevant national measures to help alleviate energy poverty as part of their Long-term Renovation Strategies, to support the renovation of both residential and non-residential building stock.

Said legislations are also important for the Energy Community members, such as North Macedonia and Ukraine, although they have still not implemented the Clean Energy package, as their legislation is lagging behind that of EU member states.

All in all, the EU is primed to address energy poverty within and even outside the EU. However, if it means to do that properly, heavy cooperation with both the EU member states and the civil society experts will be necessary, as they are the ones with the real field expertise. And just as the overview report of ComAct illustrates, solutions must be direct and comprehensive, targeted at the most vulnerable energy consumers.


Find more information about ComAct on the official website of the project here.

For more information on the overview report and its findings, please visit this site.

What is the EU Green Week about?

The European Union is becoming very serious about creating a greener future and the annual event called EU Green Week only proves this fact. The week starting with the 31st of May, until the 4th of June was dedicated to hosting the annual series of events concerning how to tackle pollution. These events included high-level political debates, awards, virtual exhibitions, preview features and side-events, as well as the hundreds of the EU Green Week Partner activities staged all over Europe.

Pollution affects each of us through the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land that sustains us. Pollution can be present in our residences, making living conditions much worse than they should be. It is the largest environmental cause of both physical and mental illness, and a major factor in the premature death of children, people with medical conditions and the elderly.

The EU Green Week 2021 brought together different groups in society together with stakeholders and policymakers to thrash out the solutions and make the ambition for a zero-pollution and toxic-free environment a reality.

Air pollution and energy poverty

Perhaps the most interesting of the events that took place during the EU Green Week was a partner event, which discussed how to tackle and combine energy poverty and air pollution into a single-issue area. This event took place on the 3rd of June, and was organized by the new Energy Poverty Advisory Hub. This is a currently ongoing EU initiative aiming to build upon existing energy related structures, transforming the Energy Poverty Observatory into it, while using the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy and the Clean Energy for EU Islands project as extensions of its base.

In large parts of Europe, low-income households often suffer from a combination of poor domestic heating systems, insufficient insulation and limited financial resources to access sustainable energy services. As a result, there is a visible impact on the air quality, which has a big impact on the livelihoods and health of residents. Therefore, this partner event focused on the tight connections between air quality and energy poverty, and how household energy renovations could be the answer to the problems of vulnerable energy consumers, such as those living in the region of Central and Eastern Europe, for example.

Analytics and good practices

The event was moderated by Jeppe Mikel Jensen from the Climate Alliance, which is a group dedicated to stopping further deterioration of the climate and environment. The speakers represented a wide variety of organizations across Europe, with people such as Teresa Aristegui, a Policy Officer from DG Energy, EU. She presented the EU’s views on how the Fit for 55 package will be one of the key measures in strengthening the energy performance of buildings to promote greener and healthier renovation.

Ina Karova from the Energy Agency of Plovdiv in Bulgaria, which is an agency that has been studying the link between energy poverty and air pollution for more than a decade, has contributed to the discussion, too. According to the investigation that Ina has been a part of,

energy poverty increases the use of raw materials for heating, as well as it creates a culture of low energy consumption, poor energy habits, lack of energy and environmental damage.

This is especially true for households heating with wood and coal, which they found to encapsulate the heaviest issues of energy poverty, such as poor housing conditions, cramped apartments, and the fact that the elderly and disabled live in even worse conditions than those heating with wood and oil.

Wood and coal are expensive, impractical, and ineffective materials for heating, hence a solution to tackle the alarming air quality that stems from such heating sources would be to change stoves into more efficient ones, upgrading boilers as well as a reduction in energy generation by using fossil and non-renewable fuels. This, according to their research, brought a 10% reduction in energy consumption and a 30% increase in air quality, which is a small, but significant win.

A living example of grave air pollution is also North Macedonia's capital city of Skopje. Back in 2019, Habitat for Humanity EMEA in cooperation with Habitat for Humanity Macedonia produced a short video "Winter, Leave" capturing the situation in Skopje to raise awareness and knowledge about this particular issue.

Joao Pedro Gouveia, a senior researcher from FCT-NOVA University of Lisbon, highlighted the issues of energy poverty in Portugal, but also shed a light into how such problems can be universal across Southern and Eastern Europe. According to him, it is also important to look at

different backgrounds standing behind the problems of energy poverty which definitely differ between EU regions.

Energy poverty is linked the abundance of harmful pollutants present in homes due to inefficient energy consumption. Electrification and a replacement of inefficient biomass and coal fueled equipment should, therefore, be a necessary step to address energy poverty as well as health related concerns.


Find more information about the EU Green Week and the recordings of the sessions here

Find more information about the transition of Energy Poverty Observatory here.

 

 

We have gotten an early Christmas gift and a good reason to celebrate this end of the year! REELIH project of Habitat for Humanity and USAID is included in a new publication

50-out-of-the-box Housing Solutions to Homelessness and Housing Exclusion

 by Housing Solutions Platform, which is the partnership of FEANTSA, Fondation Abbé Pierre and Housing Europe.

This compendium of different innovative and inspiring cases of housing solutions for the people locked out from decent, affordable and secure housing in Europe was launched on December 11th in the premises of the European Parliament. The publication provides a rich selection of projects attempting to overcome financial and political barriers within European housing system using many different means such as innovative construction, making use of the private rental sector, social housing, integrated approaches and more. Even thought included projects are local and many of them small-scale but should bring more light into the problem and encourage for more creativity in the housing policy. We are pleased and proud to claim that REELIH project got such a label!

Steering Group

Nine housing specialists had a hard task to select 50 from more than 100 proposed projects for the publication. This is yet another success for HFHI to say that Gyorgy Sumeghy, HFHI's Associate Director, Policy and Advocacy, acted as a member of this Steering Group and had a chance to go through all the inspiring projects himself which surely was not an easy task. Each member of the Steering Group also had a chance to nominate a project for evaluation. REELIH was Gyorgy's nomination and managed to get into the publication following.

At the same time, Gyorgy, as all the other Steering Group members, got an opportunity to introduce one of the chapters in this publication. Gyorgy wrote introductory words to Chapter 1 "Grassroot, Community and Collaborative Housing" and highlighted the problem and opportunity at the same time of communities of home-owners who must be mobilized and engaged to operate together. As he says:

"community-led housing is characteristic of local action, often small-scale, that it's about affordability, is not for profit and involves a lot of voluntary effort".

About the launch event

The launch event was opened by Freek Spinnewijn, the director of FEANTSA, and was followed by opening words from the host MEP Katrin Langensiepen, and a presentation of the report given by Clotilde Clark-Foulquier, the head of overall coordination. The second panel was dedicated to presentations of selected projects from the publication divided by themes into two sections. The first topic concerned the important role that cities play in addressing homelessness, the second covered matching housing needs and social needs. REELIH fell under this second section and Gyorgy had a pleasure to present the project of HFHI and USAID there, in the European Parliament in front of many specialists from the field and other relevant stakeholders. At the third and final panel, experts tried to answer the question of how unmet housing needs can be addressed, from the local all the way to the European level.

Check out the video record from the launch event and watch Gyuri's presentation of REELIH starting at 00:50:00. The presentation slides with all others are also available here.

About the publication

The 50 Out-Of-The-Box Housing Solutions to Homelessness & Housing Exclusion is divided into nine chapters, each covering different side of the housing problems. Our "solution" has number 13 and falls under Chapter 2 dedicated to "Innovation in Construction and Renovation".

This is probably the right place to mention and congratulate our local office Habitat for Humanity Poland which also made it into the publication with their Social Rental Agency project in Warsaw. Their project attempts to solve the problem of underdeveloped rental housing sector in Poland. By combining rental housing support, employment services and social work within a single institutional framework, they address the issue of housing shortage, poverty and unequal work opportunities in Warsaw.

It is great to see that the hard work of Habitat for Humanity is acknowledged and appreciated by other experts from the field around the Europe and further. We hope this unique publication will serve its purpose and inspire other local projects to happen and help the people who need it in an effective way which, we suppose, is at the center of all these projects.

We would like to thank FEANTSA, Fondation Abbé Pierre and Housing Europe again for giving us the opportunity to be featured in the publication.


Find more information about Housing Solutions Platform here.

Check out the new report here.

 

 

 

 

Centre for Social Sciences Institute of Sociology (TKSZI) in Budapest, Hungary will host a two day International Conference and Workshop on November 25th and 26th, 2019 named

ENERGY POVERTY: From Household Problems to Climate Crisis.

This event is co-organized by Habitat for Humanity Hungary together with Elosztó and Engager.

Energy poverty in Hungary has been growing and with the issue gaining a significant recognition also in European context, it has become one of the focus areas of the European Commission. There is, however, still a lack of proper definition of energy poverty. At the same time, states should be able to measure the scale of the problem among the population in order to propose possible solutions in a format of specific policies or large-scale programs that are currently absent not only in Hungary. This event attempts to contribute to the mentioned challenges and to provide a written statement giving relevant stakeholders and actors a deeper insight into the complex issue of energy poverty within the Hungarian context.

First day of the conference will be dedicated to presentations and discussion on current research, good practices and experiences around defining and measuring energy poverty in Europe with a special focus on Central Eastern Europe.

On this occasion, Habitat for Humanity International will present learnings from REELIH project related to energy poverty.

Second day will be in a format of interactive workshop serving as an opportunity for all to contribute to a draft definition of energy poverty and set of indicators for energy poverty within the Hungarian context. This is a preparation for publishing a written statement summarizing key findings and proposal for a definition and context-based indicators of energy poverty in Hungary. The participants will work in groups led by local facilitators and energy poverty researchers from the ENGAGER network.

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!

Energy as a basic human right? That is what Right to Energy Coalition (R2E) formed in 2017 believes is a key to overcoming the complex issue of energy poverty. Since then, R2E has been calling for a strategic action to tackle the root causes and consequences of energy poverty. There is need for an integrated and holistic policy approach in regards to energy poverty since the issue brings different challenges together. The R2E considers

warming world, increasing social inequality and unjust energy system

as the key areas contributing to energy poverty. Energy poverty is understood by R2E as a political choice that inevitably needs political response that is, however, many times lacking.

R2E's main points in reaching fair energy transition:

Connecting trade unions, anti-poverty organizations, social housing providers, environmental and health organizations and energy cooperatives, R2E organizes between June 19 and 20, 2019  Right to Energy Forum in Brussels, Belgium. During the workshops, conferences and two plenaries for collective reflection and strategizing, activists and specialists in energy poverty will meet, share and discuss the experience, stories, practical skills and challenging questions regarding the growing discontent in climate policies. Habitat for Humanity International will be there organizing a workshop on Energy poverty from Eastern European angle on the 19th of June 3:30 PM. Will you?


Find more information about Right to Energy Coalition here.

Find more information about Right to Energy Forum here.

Find the newest findings in R2E's report "Power to the people" here.

People of Skopje can give a sigh of relief that the winter is over. This city, being located in between the mountain ranges, becomes deadly valley during the wintertime. A blanket of smog settles over the valley because of the temperature inversions. Fresh air basically has no chance and neither do people living there. The concentration of poisonous particles named PM 2.5 in the air spikes to record heights and these small particles penetrate the respiratory system and bloodstream, and have been linked to premature deaths and various diseases.

"By breathing this air, we are slowly dying"

Tomislav Maksimovski, a Skopje resident

The fight against pollution in Skopje is hard given the fact that people actually have no other choice than to pollute the air during the winter. Because of the poor insulation of the pre-1990s Yugoslav-era buildings and the high costs of heating, people opt to use cheaper but non-eco friendly residential heating; burning wood or even plastic. Poverty in the region does not allow the inhabitants to afford the reconstruction of the residential buildings to ensure a better resistance during the winter months. Adding the passivity of the government to tackle the air pollution, people are becoming more and more frustrated. In regards to the gravity of the issue, a short movie called  Winter, Leave  was made by Contrast - Al Jazeera’s Immersive Storytelling Studio, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Have a look!


Find the full movie also here.

Find more information about the air pollution in Skopje 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:

HOW TO IMPROVE RESIDENTIAL ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN SOUTH EASTERN EUROPE AND CIS:
POLICY DISCUSSION BRIEF FOR NATIONAL GOVERNMENTS AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

ANALYSIS OF SUBSIDY SCHEMES AIMING TO SUPPORT ENERGY EFFICIENT RENOVATION OF MULTI-FAMILY BUILDINGS IN SELECTED COUNTRIES OF CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE:
LESSONS FOR ARMENIA AND BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA

LEGAL-REGULATORY SOLUTIONS FOR STRENGHTENING CIVIC INVOLVEMENT IN CONDOMINIUM MANAGEMENT IN ARMENIA:
UTILIZING THE KNOWLEDGE WEALTH FROM VISEGRAD STATES AND UKRAINE


 

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 World Habitat Awards (WHA), established in 1985, are the world’s leading housing awards. They are run by World Habitat (a UK based NGO) in partnership with UN-Habitat. The WHA recognize and highlight innovative, outstanding and sometimes revolutionary housing ideas, projects and programmes from across the world. More than 250 outstanding World Habitat Awards projects have been recognized over the years, demonstrating substantial, lasting improvements in living conditions.

We are proud to announce that Residential Energy in Low Income Households (REELIH) project, coordinated by Habitat for Humanity International with the support of USAID, was one of the eight finalists of the WHA 2017 from over 100 entries from across the world. REELIH was also one of the two projects that had additionally received a special mention from the judges (the second best in the global North!).

Through the REELIH project, homeowners living in formerly state-owned buildings are supported to work together to improve their homes. Many multi-apartment blocks in former Eastern Bloc countries Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia fell into widespread disrepair following mass privatization in the early 1990s. By supporting homeowner associations, we help residents to have access to loans and subsidies to carry out energy efficiency improvements to their homes. This makes heating homes more affordable, improving the health and well-being of residents.

After proving successful in Macedonia, the approach was transferred to Armenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although all three countries face similar challenges, we adopted our approach to meet different needs in the 3 countries.

The project has developed connections between individuals, homeowner associations, local governments and banks. The work has helped spread awareness about residential energy efficiency and increased the funding available to residents to improve their buildings.

Find out more about the REELIH project on getwarmhomes.org

or topaodom.ba for Bosnian

or taqtun.am for Armenian local pages.

See the World Habitat Awards website and 2017 winners and finalists, as well as their blog post - Why Armenia’s REELIH project is worth making a noise about.

 

The Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE) published the analysis of the funding streams directed to energy efficiency in buildings in Central, Eastern and South-East Europe (CESEE).

The study shows which funds available in the region are allocated to upgrading the building stock. Both EU and non-EU funding streams were included in the analysis:

EU funding

Non-EU funding

The analysis revealed that less than 3% of the funds that could be used to support energy efficiency investments in the region is dedicated to upgrading buildings. Within EU funding streams, only 4.35% of the region’s Cohesion Policy Funds is allocated to demand side infrastructure, amounting to €3.96 Billion. The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) has very little impact in the region, with only two energy projects active (including a gas project). The international financial institutions included in the analysis allocate only 1.7% of their total committed investments to demand-side infrastructure.

The study shows that, despite their critical role in reducing energy dependency, buildings are not perceived as a critical infrastructure and the opportunities for investments in demand-side infrastructure are not fully exploited. The current system fails to leverage sufficient private or institutional investment to upgrade the building stock.

The report addresses several challenges and suggests potential measures to overcome the lack of investments in demand-side infrastructure. According to BPIE, building technical capacity in the region is of utmost importance. BPIE suggests the creation of a regional energy efficiency financing platform that integrates capacity building, investment facilitation and project aggregation to create effective financing instruments and investment opportunities for demand-side energy efficiency. This would encourage private and institutional investment and result in a high investment leverage factor. Adopting an “efficiency-first” approach and promoting building renovation would be a viable alternative to increasing supply investments. Reducing uncertainty to spur private investments was also one of the challenges identified by BPIE, due to perceived high risks for investing in residential projects. That is why, stakeholder facilitation is one of the central aspects to our REELIH project, which you can learn more about here.

For this reason, BPIE suggests to set out comprehensive long-term national strategies for decarbonizing the building stock and guiding public and private investments, as well as to set up an independent non-political body, responsible for handling financial streams, in order to increase market confidence.

According to Oliver Rapf, Executive Director of BPIE, “The majority of buildings in the region urgently need deep renovation to reduce health and security risks, providing business opportunities and a stable return on investment. This debate becomes all the more relevant with the forthcoming negotiations on the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). It should increase funding and support for demand-side efficiency investment and give up its bias for energy-supply infrastructure” (see BPIE press release here). BPIE proposes specific solutions that can be taken both at the EU and country level to increase the impact and reach of available funding for building renovation.

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