style="background-image:url(https://getwarmhomes.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/NEB_logo_EUflag.png);background-size: cover;" >

New European Bauhaus: Habitat for Humanity International becoming a partner

The New European Bauhaus initiative (the NEB initiative) connects the European Green Deal to our daily lives and living spaces. It calls on all Europeans to imagine and build together a sustainable and inclusive future that is beautiful for our eyes, minds, and souls.

We are very excited to announce that we have become partners to the NEB initiative, and cannot wait to provide our know-how and ideas for the betterment of everyone's future in the question of energy poverty.

The New European Bauhaus is a new movement in the making!

But what is it exactly?

By creating connections, cutting across subjects and building on participation at all levels of society, the New European Bauhaus facilitates a movement to steer the transformation of our societies along three value systems:

The New European Bauhaus brings citizens, experts, businesses, and institutions together to reimagine sustainable living in Europe and beyond. Additionally, by creating a platform for experimentation and connection, the initiative supports change by also providing access to EU funding for a variety of sustainable, inclusive and most of all green projects, that can transform whole areas.

The partnership

Perhaps the most important part of keeping the NEB going are partnerships. The NEB's members act as sounding boards and key actors, whose actions within their respective communities address core values and dimensions of the NEB.

The partners usually have a large capacity for outreach, with the ability to:

The work of a partner

Nonetheless, being a partner is more than just a title, as it should be fully committed to making the NEB a reality.

Through the organization of trans-disciplinary conferences, workshops, by identifying or starting projects that enact NEB principles in real life, as well as by co-creating new sustainable living situations with communities and institutions, the New European Bauhaus can become a real experience.

Habitat for Humanity International will be committed to engaging in mutually beneficial exchanges and inputs of the initiative, sharing information, as well as managing our projects in line with NEBs values and ideas, including improving the sustainability of the residential building stock in the region, aesthetics by making buildings look nicer and more comfortable for the life of its inhabitants, taking into account the specific and complex social structures of the inhabitants living in these buildings.

With our projects, we represent Central and Eastern part of Europe, where not all countries are EU Member States, however, their historical context and building stock does not differ that much. We seek conversation between the EU and non-EU members to learn from each other and ensure the knowledge transfer to better identify the missing pieces in the process of renovating this building stock and making sure it is changed. For our work, connecting the NEB initiative to non-EU countries is essential and can be a key convening aspect for relevance of our work.

 

 

 

The current trend of rising energy prices is a worrying one. Not only because it means that people will have to devote more of their salaries to simply pay for energy in their homes, but also because it exacerbates the already negative trend of energy poverty.

Energy poverty as phenomenon is not a universal one. It has many definitions and sources, but one people can agree on is that it is influenced by energy prices in a rather major way, as people paying exorbitant sums for energy, leaving them less and less money for themselves each month is problematic. As a way to ameliorate his, renovations and adherence to modern energy performance standards of buildings should be a priority, at least according to organizations and projects such as ENPOR.

What is ENPOR?

ENPOR is a project that aims to tackle two challenges: energy poverty in the private rental sector (PRS), and testing energy efficiency support schemes, identifying energy poor tenants and homeowners.

Objectives

ENPOR plans to tackle said challenges through three main objectives, them being:

To ensure ENPOR's success, a wide variety of partners and groups have been mobilized, ranging from homeowner associations through utilities companies, to NGOs or policymakers. Among the policymakers, the EU has been a key actor, especially after the inception of the EU Green Deal, the Renovation Wave Strategy and other schemes, among which we can count the Fit for 55 legislative package, new policies and regulations to steer the EU towards a more climate aware future. This was also the key topic at ENPOR's latest Lunch Talk.

Fit for 55

Fit for 55 presents the beginning of a new legislative direction for the EU for the upcoming years. It represents the basics of the EU Green Deal, New European Bauhaus as well as the Renovation Wave Strategy among others, all of which contribute to the larger idea. As per the EU definition:

Fit for 55 refers to the at least 55% emission reduction target which the EU has set for 2030. The proposed package aims to bring the EU’s climate and energy legislation in line with the 2030 goal.

Reducing emissions is the overall goal, and the legislative package is quite complex, as it targets many diverse sectors, such as energy, climate, transport, and housing. Obviously, energy and housing are very closely connected, which ENPOR itself picks out as the main area of interest.

To highlight a few relevant parts of the Fit for 55 package:

And these are just some of the important changes brought by the package.

Conversation at the Lunch Talk

At the Lunch Talk, the panel included representatives of different key stakeholders: Helene Sibileau (BPIE) Emmanuelle Causse and Emil Martini (UIPI), Louise Sunderland (RAP) as well as Gyorgy Sumeghy from Habitat for Humanity EMEA and Ina Karova from the Energy Agency of Plovdiv.

Energy efficient renovation of the existing housing stock is one of the main solutions to reduce energy poverty.

The above written was one of the main talking points of the Lunch Talk that the majority of the guests agreed on. In ENPOR's case, privately rented housing requires renovating those homes that need to overcome several existing conflicts and problems.

Fit for 55 is a very useful legislative package, however, it is also one that can have some seriously damaging consequences if not finetuned properly. According to the Commission, the Social Climate Fund, for example, will help lower the costs for those exposed to fossil fuel price increases during the transition to greener developments, but the issue is that the amount of proposed funding will be insufficient to deliver wide-spread renovations and renewables for energy poor households. As well as this the new emission trading system might also negatively impact energy pricing, making bills even pricier.

Gyorgy Sumeghy from Habitat for Humanity also contributed to the conversation, highlighting work in both REELIH and the ComAct project and saying that owner occupied multi-apartment buildings should be given the same attention as social housing in Western Europe. He proposed that it is the homeowner communities, who need to be convinced first to make the renovation happen, and that requires complex technical assistance and community facilitation. He suggested going for a lower, more sustainable subsidy schemes to incentivize people to also invest into renovation themselves, making it possible for programs to run longer.


For more information on the Lunch Talk and additional resources, please visit this site.

To see the recording of the session, please click here.

This year's European Sustainable Energy Week will take place online starting October 25 to October 29, 2021. As a part of its Extended Program happening between October 11 - 22, 2021, we are pleased to announce that Habitat for Humanity International will be hosting an online session on HOW TO MAKE THE RENOVATION WAVE A SUCCESS IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE IN ADDRESSING ENERGY POVERTY? on

October 14, 2021, from 15:00 to 16:30 CET.

 

The session targets practitioners, government and municipality representatives, and consumer organizations and introduces specific challenges of the CEE region by providing an EU policy background for building renovation.

The session will be moderated by Elena Milanovska, Associate Director, Housing Finance Systems, Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter, Habitat for Humanity International.

 

 

Speakers:

Our speakers will present best practices from the region that successfully tackle energy poverty and lead renovation of residential buildings financial and technical assistance to homeowner associations.

A discussion with the audience will follow presentations, and several rounds of interactive exercises will accompany the session.

Register for the event here.

 

To register, please write an email to residential.mgt@habitat.org, and we will notify you about the dedicated registration page once it is available.


Find out more about the session here.

Stay in touch with the EUSEW community by signing up to the EUSEW mailing list, visiting the EUSEW website and following #EUSEW2021 on Twitter.

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.

Recently, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) published three in-depth national studies focusing on the state of residential building stock in Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and the Republic of Moldova.

The UNECE was set up in 1947 and it is one of five regional commissions of the United Nations. UNECE's major aim is to promote pan-European economic integration. UNECE includes 56 member states in Europe, North America and Asia and over 70 international professional organizations and other non-governmental organizations take part in and help UNECE achieve its objectives.

As a multilateral platform, UNECE helps in achieving greater economic integration and cooperation among its member states, as well as it promotes sustainable development and economic prosperity.

Out of all sectors of economic activity, the buildings sector has the largest potential for cost-effective improvement in energy efficiency and emissions reductions.

To help capitalize on this potential, UNECE has developed the three studies under the project “Enhancing National Capacities to Develop and Implement Energy Efficiency Standards for Buildings in the UNECE Region”.

The purpose of the study for Armenia

The "National study and detailed gap analysis between the performance objectives of the Framework Guidelines for Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings and implementation of current building energy efficiency standards in Armenia," is a report analyzing the energy performance of buildings, implementation of current building energy efficiency standards and providing country-specific recommendations to bridge gaps and enhance national capacity to develop and implement energy efficiency standards for buildings.

The main purpose is to highlight the state of multi-family apartment buildings (MFABs) in Armenia, especially concerning their energy performance. The report also includes some other important elements, such as the status of legislature and audits regarding energy performance in Armenia, as well as many other relevant policy and project highlights that succeeded in uplifting the situation in Armenia.

Important findings

The national study in Armenia revealed that buildings are one of the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). 18 per cent of the total GHG emissions is from fuel consumption in the residential buildings. The share of the residential buildings in total final energy consumption is 38 per cent. At the same time, the building sector presents significant energy saving potential, which can be realized through the effective use of modern energy efficient technologies and practices, reinforcement of robust certification systems for energy efficient buildings, and energy efficiency lending by international and local financial institutions. The Government of Armenia has put efforts into effective enforcement of recently adopted legislation in the building sector. Some relevant technical regulations and standards have also been adopted to improve the effectiveness of the whole regulatory system in the building sector.

The report itself outlined the major deficiencies of MFABs, as well as some recommendations that should be taken into consideration, not only when it comes to the renovation of energy inefficient buildings built in the second half of the 20th century, but also when it comes to relevant legislation, maintenance, and cooperation between the major parties interested in improving Armenia's situation. In a major move, the report also drew attention to the fact that Armenia should be inspired by the way other post-socialist states dealt with these buildings, such as Czechia or Poland with their establishment of associations of housing unit owners, which centralized all the relevant decision-making, thus making renovation and upgrades easier.

As an example, energy audits of multiple residential buildings proposed a standard set of measures which can bring to as much as 65 per cent energy consumption reduction:

A success for Habitat for Humanity Armenia

We are very glad to see Habitat for Humanity Armenia's long lasting efforts mentioned in the document, where UNECE recognizes their hard-work in partnership with universal credit organizations, with whom Habitat Armenia implemented housing microfinance projects that helped low- and middle-income families receive loans from financial institutions to improve their living conditions. These families used the loans to renovate and repair their homes, improve energy efficiency, and to create access to renewable energy. Through its housing microfinance projects, Habitat Armenia also provides technical assistance to families and partner financial institutions through training programs, construction technical advice and informational brochures. Other programs involve renovation of common areas of residential buildings, residential energy efficiency for low-income households and access to renewable and efficient energy in the municipalities of Vayk and Spitak.

Apart from these activities, Habitat Armenia has long been working on reforming the legislation on the management of multi-apartment buildings. The Armenian government reformed a law according to Habitat Armenia's recommendations in late 2020, which had been advocated for since 2015. According to this law, each building shall have a separate bank account for the management of its funds, which will increase the overall transparency of the fund management for each building. For more information, you can check this blog.

Conclusion

Armenia has a considerable untapped potential to improve the energy efficiency of its buildings, but several barriers and challenges must be addressed if notable progress is to be achieved in the coming decades.

In some cases, deep renovation is not possible in only one step, mostly because of the high initial investment. International collaboration is likely to remain the key for ensuring both the short-term success and the long-term viability of Armenia’s efforts. Best EU practices, already applied is some countries, show that renovation can be a long process that allows measures to be done step-by-step to maximize the final effect and reduce the energy consumption as much as possible.

As the report summarizes, Armenia still has a long way to go when it comes to energy efficient renovation. Despite this, the work that has already been done in rejuvenating the building stock makes a case for any future projects, as there definitely is a need and will to do more. The only thing that remains is to get the work done.

HFHI proudly announces 2 upcoming housing conferences this autumn.

The Europe Housing Forum (EHF) will be a four-day conference taking place between November 16 - 19, 2021.

The second REELIH Regional Conference, Scaling up energy efficiency renovations of multi-apartment buildings: Energy poverty alleviation in Eastern Europe, will be a part of the EHF 2021.


 

"The time has come for key decision-makers and stakeholders in the housing industry to cooperate to build a sustainable future for all and to bring the issue of decent housing to the forefront of the agenda in Europe"

Rick Hathaway, Vice President of Habitat for Humanity International EMEA 


 

The second REELIH Regional Conference, organized by Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is focused on the energy efficiency of multi-apartment buildings and its further renovation with the goal to alleviate energy poverty of homeowners in the region of Central and Eastern Europe. The conversation about energy efficiency and housing equity built on its strength and relevance after the European Commission introduced its new initiative - the European Green Deal. Even though the implementing countries of the REELIH project are not part of the European Union, they are impacted, apart from the EU initiatives, through the Energy Community and its policies. Research initiatives, EU policies, community participation, financing models, and proper legislation will form 5 individual sessions hosted by HFHI and USAID. These topics are overlapping with those of the Energy and Sustainability track of EHF so we are going to have additional sessions during the Europe Housing Forum.

 

The Europe Housing Forum 2021 intends to create a space for housing experts from various NGOs, academia, technology companies, donor agencies, advocacy, urban planning, and architectural institutions to learn and collaborate to reach our common goal - to position housing as a key driver of sustainable cities as well as economic growth and to seek innovative solutions to the challenges of affordable housing.

The main objectives of the EHF are to connect leaders and experts to collaborate, inspire future projects and advocate for policies that promote inclusive, equitable, affordable, and sustainable housing.

Through the following tracks

 

we hope to reach

Europe Housing Innovation Awards

Thanks to Hilti Foundation, Whirlpool Corporation, and Somfy Foundation, we have the opportunity to reward enterprises that contribute to affordable housing solutions in Europe. The winners will be announced in three categories: best public policies, best practices, and best technologies. Entries can be submitted online until September 12, 2021. Everyone is welcomed to participate and in case you know about a policy, practice, or technology that would be eligible for the award, please, do not hesitate to share this opportunity with them.

The Europe Housing Forum is bringing together housing experts to learn, collaborate and spotlight affordable and inclusive housing as the key factor of a sustainable future. We believe our Awards can motivate others to come up with innovative solutions to one of the most basic human needs - the need for shelter.

Help us share the word and stay tuned for more details!


Find out more about the event here,

about the REELIH Conference here,

Or follow the event on our Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn

Since the environmental challenges are these days on top of the agenda of the European Union (EU), new strategies to incorporate green topics into various spheres, including the building sector, started to emerge more and more often. The EU's Renovation Wave Strategy, which is consolidated into the EU Green Deal, aims to support the improvement of buildings in order to make them more sustainable and energy-efficient.

To maximize the potential of the Renovation Wave Strategy for people who are likely to face energy poverty, a collaboration between Habitat for Humanity Hungary (HFHH) and the Center for the Study of Democracy, Romania (CSD) arose

to raise their concerns toward the EU to consider the need for more region-specific recommendations how to tackle energy poverty.

As stated in the report, more than 50 million people in the EU are unable to secure an adequate level of energy for their living. The most affected regions are located in Central and Eastern (CEE) and Southeastern Europe (SEE). Both of these areas are marked by the era of socialism and a high level of marginalized communities.

While there is no official and general definition of energy poverty, we talk about it when:

Not only is the current state of many dwellings in the CEE/SEE region energy inefficient, but it is also one of the biggest air pollutants in most of the region. Usage of outdated heating systems and solid fuels, such as wood and coal, as the main heating products, caused Hungary to ascribe over 80% of PM2.5 emissions to these combustibles.

Therefore, HFHH and CSD call for EU policies and funding schemes to support the renovation of buildings while taking specific needs and circumstances of the CEE/SEE region into account. As a result, they came up with 13 detailed recommendations within three major topic areas:

      • stronger focus on energy poverty - an obligation of EU member states to target energy-poor households while making sure the funds are designated to address energy poverty of those living in the rural areas, urban areas and the marginalized and segregated communities
      • appropriate funding instruments - mainly through tailor-made financial solutions, implementation of a buy-back program, low-rate loans, financial behaviour consultations and education in energy efficiency, and support of upgrade of the most inefficient and polluting devices
      • the need for EU policies to address energy poverty - complement the EU legislation by suitable funds and measures which would target the housing issue, improvement of data collection, make sure that national governments go beyond their National Energy and Climate Plans (NECP), and direct support of the implementation of renewable energy sources.

 


Read the whole report with 13 recommendations here.

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.

 

 

Housing Europe, the European Federation of Public, Cooperative & Social Housing, has published the first comprehensive evidence-based analysis of the COVID-19 impact on housing in Europe. Being rich in facts, figures and timely information, the State of Housing in Europe 2021 Report provides its readers with insightful overview of the housing situation and its evolution across 21 countries during the Coronavirus pandemic. In this blog we aim to share some of the key messages of the Report with our readers while also highlighting one of the country profiles representing CEE Region - Armenia.

ABOUT THE PUBLICATION

The State of Housing in Europe 2021 is a comprehensive analysis of the current state of housing in Europe which explores the link between housing and health, examines the impact of COVID-19 on public, cooperative and social housing, maps out the recent developments in national and EU housing policies and analyzes the situation of 21 country profiles. It also synthetizes and reviews a growing body of literature, data and other useful evidence from (see below or Chapter 2 in the Report).

The Report has been done in collaboration with the Housing Europe Observatory, which is the research branch of Housing Europe responsible for identifying research needs and analyzing the key trends in the field of housing at the European level. This report is published on a bi-annual basis and serves as a great reference document in the housing sector.

The Report was launched online at the event organized by the Housing Europe where high-level experts from different EU institutions discussed the most pressing issues pertaining the housing sector at the moment. Moderated by Housing Europe Secretary General, Sorcha Edwards, the roundtable discussion hosted Kim Van Sparrentak (MEP and Rapporteur), Pedro Nuno Santos (Portuguese Minister for Infrastructure and Housing), Lucie Devoine (Deputy Head of Unit DG Employment, EC), Declan Costello (Deputy Director-General, DG ECFIN, EC) and Alessandro Rancati (from the Design for Policy at the New European Bauhaus, Joint Research Centre).

KEY MESSAGES OF THE REPORT

Critical Role of Housing: More Explicit Than Ever

The world at the juncture of the global health crisis required us to inevitably stay at our homes. Long-lasting housing crisis, however, has not made this possible for so many of us. As Laurent Ghekiere, Chair of Housing Europe Observatory, says

#StayAtHome has been easier said than done for a very large part of the EU population

Poor living conditions in the households or lack of housing have not only increased affected people´s chances of getting the virus but have also directly increased the risks of them dying.[1] The inadequate housing has demonstrably impacted people´s well-being, mental health, school and work performance. The pandemic has thus reinforced the importance of adequate and affordable housing for all and the need for addressing the rising inequalities as soon as possible.

Public, Cooperative and Social Housing: In the Loop

In addition to exploring the link between housing and health, including both physical and mental one, the Report observes the development of the housing sector with a special focus on the public, cooperative and social housing before and after the pandemic. The Housing Europe President, Bent Madsen, says that the mission of public, cooperative and social housing is to “factor in climate without pricing out people”. One of the findings positively reveals how public, social, and cooperative housing providers mobilized to support their tenants and communities so that they do not lose their homes. Nevertheless, there remain to persist many unfavorable realities caused by the long-lasting housing crisis that require more attention of the competent stakeholders.

The Key Issues Pertaining Housing Sector:

One of the most pressing ones, as the Report points out, is rising homelessness in the EU. Combined with trends of increasing housing prices and financialization penetrating the housing sector, this remains to be a great challenge. Collected evidence from a number of countries further suggests increasing demand for social housing - phenomenon expected only to increase in the near future. The energy performance of building and digitalization of housing sector have also become an issue.

Country profile of Armenia

Substantial part of the Housing Europe´s Report is dedicated to the selected 21 countries profiles. Among these, 3 chapters are dedicated to countries in Central and Eastern Europe: Czechia, Estonia, Slovenia and one chapter is dedicated to Armenia.

The impact of the pandemic in Armenia could be felt mostly in the construction and maintenance of the housing sector. As the Report points out, the overall construction activities in Armenia decreased by around 10 percentage points. What is more, out of this overall construction sector, provision of social housing constitutes only a very small share, although it belongs to one of the priorities of the National Social Housing Agency (ASBA). This fact can be explained by the specificity of the whole CEE region where majority of the residential building stock is co-owned by individual flat-owners.

Despite of high rates of housing availability, the need for housing in Armenia remains to be apparent, as the high rates can be easily explained by decreasing population, large share of empty dwellings, and persisting homelessness. Furthermore, there is significant group of people who are in need of better housing as their current one is in informal settlements or is simply unfit for human occupation.

With regards to the need for improving the existing housing stock´s conditions, the Housing Europe´s Report refers to HFHI´s findings about the inefficient energy insulations used in the collective residential housing units in Armenia which resulted in huge energy losses and made many low and middle-income families in Armenia spend 25 to 50% of their incomes only on utilities.

Sadly, the pandemic impact on Armenian households has been furthermore worsened by heightened political tensions and period of military hostilities, leaving many households exposed to significant challenges.

WHAT IS NEXT?

Against the immediate consequences and given the projections of the medium to long-term COVID-19 impact, the investment in social and affordable housing must clearly become a key priority for public policies and must constitute “a central pillar of economic recovery efforts”, claim the authors of the Report. Fiscal and monetary policies implemented by the EU to accommodate the COVID-19 impact together with its mandate to implement social rights, especially the right to access to social housing, should help favorable development of social and affordable housing in Europe.


[1] Supporting evidence reveals a 50% higher risk of coronavirus incidence and 42% higher risk of COVID-19 mortality with 5% increase of households with poor housing conditions.


Find the recording from the launch event here.

Find the full report here.

Find Housing Europe press release here.

Repost from the original press release

ComAct - Community Tailored Actions for Energy Poverty Mitigation is a new project that started in October 2020. Financed by Horizon2020, ComAct is set to lift people in Central and Eastern Europe and in the former Soviet Union republics out of energy poverty.

Na obrázku môže byť outdoorové oblečenie a text, v ktorom sa píše „ComAct Tailored Actions Community for Energy Poverty Mitigation“

Background of the ComAct project

Energy poverty represents a problem all over Europe and is particularly high in the East, South, South-Eastern and Baltic regions of Europe. In most of these countries,

the quality of housing is low, and the affordability of heating or cooling cost is high

despite the progress made in recent years through public investments in energy efficiency policies and measures and efforts to involve the stakeholders addressing the problem.

Implementing energy efficiency measures is more complicated in these countries than in Western Europe, particularly due to mass privatization of the housing sector combined with the deconstruction of the social safety net during the 1990s. Privately owned multi-family apartment blocks predominated and increased of energy costs became a burden to family budgets. In parallel, socialist era collective maintenance mechanisms were abandoned, whereby the decay of homeowners’ associations has not been adequately addressed.

Implementation of the ComAct project

The ComAct project is interested in solving problem of energy inefficient buildings in this region as the REELIH project does, however, its focus in more on overall issue of the energy poverty. To be piloted in Hungary, Bulgaria, Republic of North Macedonia, Lithuania and Ukraine, ComAct will provide a set of financial, technical and organizational instruments that can be replicated all over Europe to solve the "heat or eat" problem of low-income families and increase efficiency and multiple benefits coming from the renovation of multifamily buildings. The impact will already be visible in the three years timeframe of the project, with its aim to involve more than 3000 consumers and trigger almost 10 million euros of investments in sustainable energy. However, the biggest impact of ComAct lies in the lessons learned coming out of the pilots, to be replicated all over Europe.

Contribution delivered by ComAct will be key in providing EU countries a set of instruments to lift millions of its citizens out of energy poverty and to ensure that buildings provide a healthy and affordable living and working environment.

 

Na obrázku môže byť text, v ktorom sa píše „ComAct: Affordable low cost solutions for high energy efficiency driven by community action UNAFFORDABLEHIGH IMPACT SOLUTIONS Cities and loca auth Construction/energy compa NGOs/civilsoci ety Policy and rganizations cision makers Building ma nagement/ ma nance companies Professionals with technical skills HIGH ENERGY EFFICIENCY Financial institutions LOW NERGY EFFICIENCY Energy poor households organized Homeowners Associations AFFORDABLEW C“

This is a detailed working scheme of ComAct project

 

We are proud to say that the ComAct project originated from the working group of partner organizations that has been created under the REELIH project. Common interest in energy poverty in the CEE and CIS region of this group outgrew to the idea of making a case together and the willingness to contribute to the alleviation of energy poverty in a joint project. For more information about who stands behind this starting project, please, visit a brand new website of ComAct project.


Find more information about ComAct project here.

Read the full press release here.

Cookies settings

We use cookies on our website. Some are necessary for the website to function properly, while others help us improve this website and your user experience. We need your consent to use them.

Customize cookies preferences