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Joint statement to the European Commission: Affordable, safe and accessible way to decarbonize the European housing stock

On October 28, 2021, Housing sector organizations released a joint statement on decarbonization of the EU housing stock, calling the European Commission (EC) to implement 6 key sets of recommendations that can ensure healthier and safer environments for all citizens. Find out what the recommendations are and why their implementation is inevitable.

In their statement addressed to the EC asks to ensure that the transition towards a decarbonized housing stock will maintain its affordability, safety and accessibility. The timing of this initiative is driven by the foreseen EU policy developments with respect to climate policies, in particular the upcoming proposal for amending the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) planned for December 2021, and notwithstanding the Renovation Wave Strategy and Fit for 55 developments.

Ten signatories of the statement act under the umbrella of the European Housing Forum coalition. The coalition brings together major international or European organizations that represent the entire housing sector, including housing consumers, providers, and professionals. Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) has joined the signatories as well.

HFHI contributed with its review of the proposed statement and highlighted the need for specific approach to alleviate energy poverty in Central and Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States region (CEE/CIS), and the case for renovation of multi-apartment buildings, community building and support of homeowner associations in this regard.

In the joint statement, the signatories emphasize the need for “affordability” being a guiding principle when it comes to Renovation Wave Strategy. In parallel, to mitigate the affordability risks, they point out that the EC must refine the financial components of the Strategy so that the funds are sufficient and targeted, and the allocation mechanisms transparent and safeguarded. Furthermore, for successful implementation of the Strategy, the legislative requirements of the proposed policies within the Strategy must be fit for purpose, meaning they must be flexible, progressive, and cost-effective. For a quality Renovation Wave, the Strategy must incorporate a holistic and integrated view of buildings and their renovation. That is an approach that “beyond energy efficiency seeks to improve well-being and comfort of occupants, technology-neutrality as well as the heritage and use values of buildings”.

Therefore, the coalition recommends the following:

    1. Prioritize measures that demonstrably lead to the greatest CO2 reductions for the lowest costs for building owners and residents;
    2. Refrain from one-size-fits-all solutions;
    3. Guarantee that any introduction of new mandatory requirements, including MEPS are led by a sectoral and progressive approach, cost-effectiveness guiding principle and flexibility and focus on the overall objective rather than specific and detailed measures;
    4. Activate dedicated funding
    5. Enable quality and targeted training and re/up-skilling of workers and professionals across the sector (construction workers, assessors for respective tools etc.)
    6. Ensure the establishment, address the current bottleneck and facilitate the efficient management and long-term sustainment of One-Stop-Shops (OSS) to provide assistance and support for renovation to the various segments of the housing sector and the various ownership structure.

 


Find out more about the recommendations by checking out the full version of the Statement 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.

The Renovation Summit was a two-day event introduced by Housing Europe – the European Federation of Public, Cooperative and Social Housing. It is a network of 46 national and regional federations in 25 countries, including 19 EU member states.

This online event took place on the 10th and 11th of May 2021. Both days, two sessions took place, focusing on different housing and renovation-related topics, such as the EU Renovation Wave Strategy, public drivers of energy transition, financing and policies as well as relevant examples from partner organizations and the public.

The Renovation Summit brought together relevant stakeholders to discuss and promote new approaches towards the EU’s decarbonization project, to preserve social fairness and affordability in housing. The aim was to promote people-centered measures, a low-carbon culture throughout the supply chain of renovation, and an eventual search for financial resources from all levels, especially from the EU, and all kinds of institutions to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

Housing Europe was not the only relevant actor present during the summit, as there managed to invite several personalities from the branches of the EU’s framework of institutions, such as Elisa Ferreira, the European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, or Kadri Simson, the European Commissioner for Energy, Ciaran Cuffe, an MEP from the European Parliament, and the Rapporteur of the recent EP resolution on “Maximising the energy efficiency potential of the EU building stock” and various other representatives of the DG’s, such as DG REFORM, ECFIN or ENERGY or the European Investment Bank. All the representatives highlighted the need for an effective implementation of the Renovation Wave Strategy as well as the EU policies, which should make the application of policies towards housing easier, like the RRF structure or the European Green Deal initiative.

A great deal of concern was given to the state of social housing in Europe, which requires expansion and renovation, best done in accordance with the principles of affordability, sustainability, and innovation. Likewise, a few sessions placed importance upon the idea that housing and renovation should not be inaccessible, for example in less developed regions of Europe, where specific challenges have to be addressed, as many people live in relatively lesser conditions due to the abundance of badly isolated and low-quality multi-apartment buildings, which tend to trap people in the cycle of energy poverty.

Similarly, both Stefan Moser (DG ENERGY) and Ciaran Cuffe (Member of the European Parliament, talked about how the EU’s strategy towards renovation must be more comprehensive and understand that multi-apartment buildings contrast significantly with social housing in the West due to organizational differences and must be given a specific attention and approach.

Likewise, sessions such as Neighborhood renovation for people, presented various measures on tackling energy efficiency and poverty related issues. One of the examples was the fight for multi- apartment building renovation in Estonia, presented by Anu Sarnet from EKYL, which showcased how Estonia ambitiously plans to renovate all of their badly built and energy inefficient building blocks from the 70s by 2050, in close co-operation with homeowner associations and homeowners, which is very reminiscent of REELIH project’s goals and ideas.

Moreover, the EU will introduce new legislation, which will try to underline the priorities of the Energy Efficiency Directive, with a focus on a bottom-up approach towards achieving climate obligations, whether by 2030 or 2050. Considerable attention will also be paid to whole neighborhood enhancement, as per the New European Bauhaus initiative of the Commission.

In conclusion, the Renovation Summit achieved what it set out to do, to gather relevant stakeholders from a multi-faceted network of representatives that come from all levels of housing, from the tenants to the EU’s structures. It was a very comprehensive event as it provided much needed insight into how a successful implementation of the Renovation Wave and the recovery in Europe should work, in times of dire distress and an intensifying degree of energy poverty.


Find more information about the Renovation Summit and the initiative Our homes, our deal here.

The European Climate Pact (ECP) is a new, EU-wide initiative inviting individuals, communities and organizations to participate in climate action and building a greener Europe. This pact is introduced under the European Green Deal (EGD), which is an action plan to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean and circular economy. The goal of the EGD is to make EU’s economy sustainable by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities and making the transition just and inclusive for all. In order to achieve this goal, the EGD must encourage a stronger action coming from citizens. Hence, the role of the ECP is to create a space for everyone to share information, to open for discussion and to act on the climate crisis with a goal of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The ECP wishes to create a space or network for people across Europe, being it professionals or citizens, communities or individuals. The inclusiveness of this approach to the EU public shall connect regions, local communities, industry, schools and civil society, to share information about climate change, and to promote solutions. The ECP is built on the following values:

social sustainability, social well-being, inclusion, equality, diversity, accessibility and affordability

The European Climate Pact and housing

In the starting phase, the ECP will prioritize actions having immediate benefits for the climate, for the environment and for the health and wellbeing of citizens. The four selected areas for this phase are green areas, green mobility, green buildings and green skills. In respect of targeted area of green buildings, this initiative will support the renovation of buildings in line with the Renovation Wave to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The ECP recognizes the building sector as one of those with the most potential for having a positive impact on climate change.

The ECP will support sharing of information and knowledge of benefits that improvements of energy and materials performance bring to homes, hospitals, schools, social housing and municipal services. Moreover, they aim to support mayors and citizens in provision of guidance and technical assistance with tackling the low energy performance of their buildings and improving their resilience, with a special consideration of affordability and energy poverty.

Possibilities of public engagement

Involving people directly in discussions on climate challenges creates co-ownership, unlocks technological and social innovation, and optimizes decision-making. The role of the ECP is to open up for public and encourage people to engage in the topic. In the first place, the ideas and contributions to the ECP will be communicated during an Annual Climate Pact event.

Another way to become part of the ECP is to sing up to climate action pledges. The ECP invites organizations, collectives and even individuals to register their climate initiatives and turn them into climate action pledges, in order to boost action, encourage others to join, and scale up and replicate good ideas and projects.
As an individual, one can become a volunteering ECP Ambassador and contribute to the ECP by informing, inspiring and supporting climate action in their communities and networks.

Public consultation of the European Climate Pact

As part of the development of the ECP, the European Commission had opened for a public consultation in the first half of 2020. Its aim was to gather input from a broad range of stakeholders, ranging from national, regional and local authorities to businesses, civil society and education organizations, consumer groups, research and innovation centers, as well as individual citizens. Habitat for Humanity International contributed to this consultation as we considered it an opportunity to deliver our messages about the importance of renovation of multi-apartment buildings and support of functioning homeowner associations.
We see it as a success that one of the main topics of the ECP is "green buildings". It confirms that the renovation of buildings is a crucial step in the fight against the climate change. Moreover, the ECP acknowledges that the renovation of buildings has a significant impact on health and well-being of the citizens.

The European Climate Pact is yet another important initiative under the European Green Deal that can significantly contribute to awareness-raising, knowledge-sharing and uniting all relevant stakeholders in the process of making Europe a greener place. Renovation of buildings is an inevitable part of this whole process and thanks to initiatives like the ECP, we hope for better and more effective implementation of solutions, such as renovation of existing building stock, that will alleviate energy poverty in the European region and make people's houses real, high-quality homes.


Find more information about the European Green Deal here.

Find more information about the European Climate Pact here and about the "green buildings" as a priority topic here.

Find more information about the EC public consultation of the European Climate Pact here.

Renovation: Staying on top of the wave is a new publication by FEANTSA. In early December, 2020, FEANTSA organized a dedicated online roundtable where this new report, commissioned to Catrin Maby, Member of Welsh Government advisory group on housing decarbonisation and Member of British Standards Institute Retrofit Standards Task Group, was launched. During the event, Catrin Maby gave a presentation about the report. This presentation was followed by an open discussion, with contributions from Ciaran Cuffe, MEP from Group of the Greens, and Paula Rey-Garcia from the European Commission DG Energy - Energy Efficiency Unit. We would like to thank FEANTSA for organization of this event. We very much appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this discussion by our presence and to have a chance to put more light on REELIH project and the special case of privately owned multi-apartment buildings in Eastern Europe and the challenge they pose for energy efficiency retrofits and alleviating energy poverty.

About Renovation: Staying on top of the wave

This report is a continuation of FEANTSA's activities to contribute to the effective implementation of the Renovation Wave under the European Green Deal and to highlight the potential social risks associated with energy renovation programs.

"Low-income groups are most impacted by the climate crisis and energy poverty, and their needs must be addressed by the Renovation Wave going forward."

The report reflects upon the current situation in the EU where more than 50 million households experience energy poverty. It means that these households are not able to afford the energy they need to meet their basic households needs, such as heating, cooling, hot water, or domestic appliances. This is an issue resulting from energy inefficient buildings and appliances in a combination with low household incomes and high energy costs. FEATNSA, in this publication, provides a comprehensive analysis of different energy renovation and retrofit projects, with a particular focus on social element of this process.

FEANTSA defines a "win-win-win" scheme which should serve as a guiding principle when working on alleviation of energy poverty. The three wins are:

Assuring that all the three “wins” are met after the instalment of energy improvements in buildings is a challenging task and is affected by multiple factors. The aim of this report is to highlight the risks connected with the implementation of energy improvements so that all social groups benefit from the renovation works equally.

For the analysis, FEANTSA selected numerous examples to illustrate both positive and negative impacts and outcomes of energy projects. All of the examples are projects including energy improvements, but at the same time, not all of them are primarily focused on energy. One of the chapters is dedicated to projects which ended up having unintended negative impacts. In this way, FEANTSA was able to identify the risks connected with energy and renovation projects for future use. Lack of longer term monitoring and the evaluation of energy renovation programs, including their social impact, are identified as crucial step for more comprehensive understanding of complex renovation works.

REELIH project as an example of good practice

REELIH project, provided by Habitat for Humanity International with a financial support from USAID, was identified by FEATNSA as one of the successful projects serving as an example of good practice. Our project is showcasing how to work on energy efficiency improvements in multi-apartment buildings with a high number of homeowners. According to FEANTSA, REELIH's emphasis on providing solutions for low-income households recognizes the social need that must be addressed. Our example is included in Chapter 3 on Programmes to support lower income home-owners to renovate, which presents a specific approach to housing energy renovation due to its specific support provided for low or medium income private home owners.

Positive and negative social impacts

Based on the analysis of selected projects, FEANTSA was able to create lists of both positive and negative impacts of renovation works with an emphasis on social aspect.

Positive social impacts

Negative social impacts

Recommendations

For the final part of the report, FEANTSA prepared a set of recommendations for future projects based on their findings. Among their recommendations, you can find:

 

It is indeed a success for REELIH project to be presented as a good practice in yet another publication. We very much appreciate another FEANTSA's recognition of our project and USAID's financial support for this project, too.


Find more information about FEANTSA here.

Find more information about Renovation Wave here.

Find the fact sheet about Renovation Wave and the European Green Deal here.

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