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World Urban Forum 2020: Innovative management of multi-apartment high rise housing

Organized by UN-Habitat, the conference World Urban Forum 2020 took place in Abu Dhabi from 8 - 13 February, 2020. It was already for the 10th time that this international event brought together the experts from the field and enthusiasts of sustainable urbanization to gather and exchange the views on urban issues. The theme of this tenth session of WUF was

Cities of Opportunities:
Connecting Culture and Innovation

The conference was divided into six dialogues session:

These six dialogues covered the emerging innovative approaches and practices in harnessing culture and innovation as drivers for sustainable urbanization. At the same time, the sessions provided great insight into the linkages between urbanization, culture and innovation as a basis for achieving inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements. The emphasis was put on a synergy between tradition and modernity, and deeper understanding of multi-generational communities. Through this approach, the conference sessions tried to unfold and introduce the role of culture and innovation in implementation of the New Urban Agenda and achieving urban dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

WUF10 Training Event

Susana Rojas Williams, HFHI - EMEA Director of Housing and Human Settlements Department, was at WUF10 to speak about the success of REELIH project. UNECE was kind enough to invite HFHI to speak at their training event called

Innovative management of multi-apartment high rise housing: Localizing Sustainable Development Goals 7 & 11 and New Urban Agenda through housing strategies.

It aimed to develop practical knowledge and skills in maintenance and management of multi-apartment residential buildings and to unfold its problematic sides.

At the same time, presented were different approaches that establish a sustainable maintenance and management systems with adequate finance, direct citizen engagement, laws and regulations. The adoption of policies targeting existing housing stock is a strategy that helps realization of SDG 11 and the New Urban Agenda.

The topic of this event acknowledged the specificity of Central and Eastern European region where a significant part of the housing stock consists of old and energy inefficient multi-apartment buildings. The main issue there is that home-owners do not assume the responsibility to maintain the buildings they live in. It is a result of different factors influencing the last decade of 20th century:

This situation left residents of multi-apartment buildings unprepared for a new way of living in these yet ageing, not properly maintained buildings. Simply said, no one was there to tell the homeowners that they have the financial and social obligations to organize and pay for the maintenance and management of their common goods and properties and to ensure their building is fully functioning. Therefore, there is a critical need in this region to build homeowner associations and within them a financial reserve for cyclical maintenance and capital refurbishments for future.

REELIH project as best practice

The story of multi-apartment buildings in Central and Eastern Europe is related also to REELIH implementation countries. There, facilitating the "eco-system of residential energy efficiency stakeholders" helped fighting the described challenges.  Creating a common environment for people (home-owners), private (banks, construction) and public (local/national government) sector improved the overall efficiency of communication level between these sectors. Moreover, it eased the way in which the homeowners get into a constructive dialogue, get to an agreement for common action and access a financial and other support from private and public sectors. REELIH project's two key messages say that

without homeowners, energy efficient improvements, building maintenance and management cannot happen. Moreover, without the right institutional structure, energy efficiency retrofits, housing management and maintenance cannot scale.

Inter-sector communication is the crucial activity to be present when finding the right solutions to housing issues not only in the Central and Eastern Europe. Check out the solutions to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Armenia and Macedonia and their REELIH success stories on our websites.

Find more information about World Urban Forum here.

Find the WUF10 Declaration here.

Find the REELIH presentation for WUF10 here.

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

Affordable housing and urban infrastructure for all groups of the population

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

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

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

Residential energy efficiency for low income households (REELIH) project

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

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

On advocacy level, two areas of influence were recognized:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Written by Stuart Macdonald, a World Habitat trustee and Managing Director of PR agency See Media. See the original post here.
REELIH – Residential Energy Efficiency for Low Income Households is a project of Habitat for Humanity International and USAID.

We are in a quiet, windswept car park on a hill above Yerevan. The Soviet-era blocks of flats that surround us have impressive views down to the capital of Armenia below and west to Mount Ararat and Turkey.

An old man is painstakingly sweeping autumn leaves into a neat pile, when suddenly the peace is broken by a group of colourful women who burst around the corner of one of the blocks of flats.

Immediately our small group of World Habitat Awards judges is enveloped by enthusiastic chatter about the difference the REELIH energy-efficiency project has made to the lives of residents of these high-rise blocks.

‘We are so much warmer’, says one. ‘The difference is incredible’, says another. ‘Before there was wind blowing through the front door and now there is not – it is very simple!’

On the surface, REELIH – led by non-profit housing organisation Habitat for Humanity International with the support of USAID – means that some relatively simple refurbishment jobs are undertaken in old Soviet-era high-rise blocks. It ensures funds are in place through existing ‘homeowner associations’ for energy-efficiency works to communal areas to install new double-glazed windows and secure, air-tight front doors. REELIH has also started a programme of external insulation work to buildings that – despite the exposed nature of many of the homes and sub-zero winter temperatures – were built with little or no insulation in the 1960s to 1980s.

This work is crucially important in helping tackle the fuel poverty that affects many Yerevan households.  Around one-in-three are classed by the government as being in poverty. Yet the improvements are simply the final act in what has been a painstaking process to put in place the necessary funding.

So what is it about the REELIH project that caught the attention of the World Habitat Awards judges and saw it become a finalist in the 2017 Awards?

To my mind, it was because they are:

How does REELIH work?

REELIH helps groups of high-rise residents to use their existing ‘homeowner associations’ to access bank loans to contribute to the cost of energy-efficiency improvement works. The difference is then made up by a local government grant.

The concept is relatively simple, but it had never been done before in Armenia due to lender concerns about the creditworthiness of homeowner associations. Also, while local and national governments could see that citizens face an issue with poorly insulated homes and rising energy prices, the capital works bill to adequately address this is steep. The REELIH mixture of loan and grant funding addresses these issues.

How did it overcome the challenges?

Habitat for Humanity Armenia was so keen to demonstrate the potential of REELIH that it first ran a pilot where it lent money to a homeowner association in order to convince lenders to come on board. This was a gamble, but it worked, with the homeowner association repaying the loan from its service fees.

As a result, lender Inecobank became a REELIH partner alongside the Yerevan Municipal Authority – the latter investing up to 40% of the overall cost per high-rise block.

By the end of 2017, 30 Yerevan blocks had been refurbished at an average cost of just $5,000. The Municipality plans to work with REELIH, Inecobank and homeowner associations to complete works to a further 100 buildings.

What is the impact?

The outcome of all parties working together to strike a deal on REELIH is that fuel poverty is reduced among some of Yerevan’s most vulnerable people.

However, it has proven difficult to accurately measure the fuel bill savings due to people now heating their homes adequately, whereas before they were simply living with cold rooms.

As well as the Armenian government taking notice of the success of the REELIH model and looking to build on its success at a national level, other former Eastern Bloc countries are also learning more. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia are also implementing REELIH-based approaches.

While in Yerevan, our group of World Habitat Awards judges met residents of several high-rise blocks and at each one the message was the same: ‘REELIH has significantly improved our homes and lives’.

The first residents we met were right: REELIH is definitely worth making a noise about.

On 13 February 2018, the LEDS-EEP organised the webinar "Learning from Eastern Europe: An energy efficiency model to reduce energy poverty in residential buildings," presented by Besim Nebiu and Zita Kakalejcikova, from Habitat for Humanity International. This webinar introduces the viewer to the processes and outcomes of the Residential Energy Efficiency for Low-Income Households (REELIH) project, run by Habitat for Humanity International and supported by USAID.

Residential heating energy accounts for more than 30 percent of energy use in most countries of Europe and Central Asia, and for more than 40 percent in the Balkans. Construction and heating methods used between the 1950s and 1980s were not focused on energy savings and environmental concerns, and as a result, highly inefficient energy use today intensifies the impact of escalating energy prices on low-income households. There is thus an urgent need to retrofit most of this housing stock to bring down heating costs and reduce energy poverty.

One way to bring down heating costs is to invest in energy-smart building renovations. One significant obstacle in the way of such renovations is that building owners have difficulty in reaching investment decisions together—a problem often made more difficult by legal complexities.

Habitat for Humanity International, with support from USAID, has run demonstration projects in Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), and Macedonia to raise awareness among homeowners, improve legal environment, and introduce new market solutions.

Habitat for Humanity has also carried out comparative research on state programs in Central Europe that have been successful. Based on its research and project findings, Habitat for Humanity hosts a dedicated regional knowledge platform at, as well as national knowledge platforms for BiH and Armenia.


Residential heating energy accounts for more than 30 percent of energy use in most countries of Europe and Central Asia, and for more than 40 percent in the Balkans. Construction and heating methods used between the 1950s and 1980s were not focused on energy savings and environmental concerns, and as a result, highly inefficient energy use today intensifies the impact of escalating energy prices on low-income households. There is thus an urgent need to retrofit most of this housing stock to bring down heating costs and reduce energy poverty.

One way to bring down heating costs is to invest in energy-smart building renovations. One significant obstacle in the way of such renovations is that building owners have difficulty in reaching investment decisions together—a problem often made more difficult by legal complexities.

Habitat for Humanity International, with support from USAID, has run demonstration projects in Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), and Macedonia to raise awareness among homeowners, improve legal environment, and introduce new market solutions. Habitat for Humanity has also carried out comparative research on state programs in Central Europe that have been successful. Based on its research and project findings, Habitat for Humanity hosts a dedicated regional knowledge platform at, as well as national knowledge platforms for BiH and Armenia.

This webinar, delivered in English, takes place on February 13, 2018, from 15:00 to 16:00 CET. Participation is free of charge. To register, please contact

To join the webinar, please go HERE.


Besim Nebiu

Besim has been with Habitat for Humanity for more than 10 years, and is currently project manager of the “Residential Energy Efficiency for Low-Income Households” (REELIH) project and program manager for several Habitat for Humanity countries in the ECA region, such as Armenia, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Poland. He has also worked for international organizations as a program personnel and consultant. Besim, who holds a master’s degree in economics from Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, combines his professional third-sector engagement with civic activism.

Zita Kakalejcikova

Zita has been with Habitat for Humanity’s area office for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) since 2014, working in the advocacy team that supports EMEA advocacy initiatives to change housing policies at both regional and national levels. In her current work with Habitat for Humanity on the USAID-run REELIH project, Zita is focused on regional-level advocacy for residential energy efficiency. She holds a master’s degree in international relations and European studies from Comenius University, Slovakia, having spent exchange semesters at Sciences Po Bordeaux and the University of Vienna.

Written by Larissa Schreckenbach, IWO

The housing stock of Ukraine consists of 240.000 apartment buildings, numbering almost 13 million apartments.

Every second Ukrainian lives in a typical industrial building of the Soviet period. Eighty per cent of these buildings need urgent modernization.

The efficiency of energy consumption in residential buildings is two to three times lower than in Western Europe. In the recent past, the state covered up to 80% of the gas costs, paying the difference between the gas market price and the tariff for the population. In the last two years, the prices for heat and hot water have been constantly rising. A large-scale subsidy program, which was introduced in 2015 in parallel with the growth of heat energy prices for the population, was designed to mitigate the effects of this increase. In 2016, the total amount of subsidies intended to compensate the costs of families for payment of public utilities in Ukraine amounted to about 5 billion hryvnias (UAH).

To reduce these costs, it is necessary to modernize the housing stock. The latest legislative changes in Ukraine and the introduction of the first financial mechanisms to implement certain energy-efficient measures confirm the correct direction of the reforms.

But only a complex energy-saving reorganization of the housing stock will significantly improve the efficiency of the reforms initiated.

Thus, it is important: to consider needs and financial possibilities of homeowners; to monitor the increase in energy efficiency; to raise the level of information in the population, as well as to improve the qualification of designers and builders. In Germany, there is a large experience in this field. In Ukraine, there are very few successful projects for the comprehensive rehabilitation of apartment buildings. In order to find solutions for the implementation of complex sanitation (Table 1), during the competition organized within the framework of the project "German-Ukrainian Energy Efficient Homes", 20 residential houses were selected. German experts will accompany the energy sanitation of these buildings. The project, which started in October 2015, is being carried out with the assistance of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (German: Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie, BMWi).

Complex energy-saving sanitation (Table 1) leads to ensuring the safety of buildings, increasing the market value of housing, comfort and security of residence, as well as to a significant reduction in energy consumption (50% to 60%) and, accordingly, to a reduction in energy costs.

Energy saving measures Other complex sanitation measures
Building shell

• Replacement of windows

• Thermal insulation of the roof or

ceilings of the upper floor

• Thermal insulation of the facade

• Thermal insulation of the basement ceiling

• Sealing of doors of entrances

Technical equipment

• Updating the heating system equipment, for example, individual heat point (ITP), pipelines, hot water supply system, accounting and regulation of heat consumption

• Introduction of renewable energy

• Renovation of ventilation

• Waterproofing of roofing and ensuring its airtightness

• Measures to ensure constructive reliability of the building or its elements

• The exterior of balconies

• Repair of porches

• Replacement of sanitary equipment

• Replacement of tiles in bathroom and kitchen

• Replacement of doors to apartments

• Replacement of electrotechnics


Tab. 1: Activities related to integrated energy-saving sanitation

On the basis of model projects, reliable data will be obtained. These data will give information about the extent, to which typical residential buildings need rehabilitation, the costs of implementing an integrated energy-saving rehabilitation, and the amount of energy that can be saved because of the implementation of different measures. The data will also help to identify the specific obstacles and technical, organizational, financial and social complexities on the way to the successful implementation of an integrated sanitation.

Carrying out the model projects will allow launching the development of a target program on complex energy-saving refurbishment of buildings, relying on practical experience. The experience in drawing up an optimal financing scheme and answering questions is very important, for example,

- To which extent should the state support energy saving sanitation?

- What monthly financial loan burden for the Ukrainian apartment owner could be considered as acceptable?

The project does not provide investment money for design and construction works. The proprietors of the apartments in 20 model houses, who decided to carry out an integrated sanitation, will use the financial capacities of the Energy Efficiency Fund. The Fund was developed in Ukraine during the last two years by the Ministry of Regional Development, Construction and Housing and Communal Services with the support of the Federal Government of Germany. On 08.06.2017, the Law on the Energy Efficiency Fund was adopted by the Verkhovna Rada in the second reading by a majority vote.

20 model objects will be among the first clients of the Fund. It will be possible to demonstrate in practice the advantages of a new financial instrument in comparison with the previous ones.

Larissa Schreckenbach – Project manager, Housing Initiative for Eastern Europe (IWO)- a European Competence Network. Field of activity are competent consulting, special training, creation of interdisciplinary networks, organization of work with associations and hands-on refurbishment. She has experience working in energy saving projects in residential homes in Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan and other post-Soviet countries.

Written by Éva Gerőházi and Hanna Szemző, Metropolitan Research Institute, Budapest

Upon the request of Habitat for Humanity International, Metropolitan Research Institute (MRI) has completed an in-depth research of energy efficiency renovation subsidy schemes in Central European countries (Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia) and assessed the potential of Bosnia & Herzegovina and Armenia for introduction of similar programs. The study was done within the framework of USAID project Residential Energy Efficiency for Low Income Households (REELIH) in order to strengthen the research potential of the project. This article is a summary of the case study of Hungary.

One of the Central European counties whose experience was analysed in the framework of the REELIH project was Hungary. The national subsidy scheme to support the energy efficient renovation of multi-family buildings was introduced in 2001.

By that time some important preconditions were already present:

In 2001 a whole package of subsidies regarding housing interventions was introduced, among them a subsidy for the energy efficient renovation of multi-family buildings. Condominiums and cooperatives were eligible to obtain 1/3 of their renovation costs from the state in case the local municipality provided another 1/3 and their application was supported both on the local and national levels. Condominiums or cooperatives came up with their own 1/3 of the intervention costs mostly by taking subsidized commercial loans that in most cases incorporated an interest rate subsidy scheme to support the renovation of multi-unit buildings and a Bausparkasse scheme to further decrease the financial burden. With the combination of the interest rate subsidy and the Bausparkasse scheme a nearly interest free loan was provided by the banks directly to the condominiums and cooperatives in a form of joint loan with the main collateral of the regular income stream of the building. This form of joint loans was developed by the mid-2000s and boosted the renovation market.

From 2001 to 2009 the subsidy was announced nearly every year and the scheme underwent slight changes (e.g. increasing technical requirements, the termination of the compulsory participation of the local municipalities, the increasing eligible subsidy amount/flat, requiring more complex interventions, etc). After 2009 six years passed till the next call appeared in spring 2015, and there has been no calls ever since. In the call of 2015 the subsidy rate was maximized at 50% by the state (some local municipalities still provided co-financing in addition), however the rate depended on the energy efficiency rate achieved (the higher the predicted energy saving is the higher the subsidy rate was). Despite very high subsidy rates, evidence shows that a large part of the refurbished buildings have higher operation costs after the intervention as a result of the installments of loans that are not compensated by the energy saving.

There is no exact data on the share of the multi-family housing stock affected by the subsidy, since many buildings were able to take part in the scheme two or three times. However, according to a rough estimate, about 1/3 of the multi-unit stock may have undergone some refurbishment by means of the subsidy.

Looking from the condominium’s point of view, it seems that successful applications really required administrative and (sometimes) financial support of the local municipality, commitment of housing managers, and a home owners community that is able to make decisions.

Besides the visible results of the Hungarian scheme it is important to mention some of its drawbacks, like low control of quality or subsidy dependency, meaning that people preferred to wait for subsidies to come and rarely conducted any interventions without them. Besides that, increased prices and distortions on the supply side limited the number of potential contractors, as their selection was often politically motivated.

Currently, one of the biggest issues in connection with the subsidy scheme regards its continuation. The Hungarian state decided not to provide non-repayable subsidy to private home-owners any more but prefers interest free loans instead which the society and the experts seem to debate strongly.

You can read the full study here

eva-mri Éva Gerőházi (MSc in Economics) has twenty years of experience in research and consultancy in the field of regional and local economic development, housing policy and urban renewal. She has worked in several projects of the European Commission and has been assisting the Budapest Municipality and several Hungarian ministries and local governments in policy and program development. She researched and developed a programme for marginalised neighbourhoods and the use of European funds in these urban areas. She worked as a project manager of USAID financed condominium rehabilitation program in 1997-1999. She is also a co- founder of the Hungarian national subsidy scheme for complex renovation of multi-family buildings.
hanna-mri Dr Hanna Szemző has been working for MRI for 15 years. She has experience in research and consultancy in the fields of energy efficiency policy, urban renewal, city governance and real estate analysis and welfare policy. She has participated in numerous framework programs of the European Union, prepared strategic development concepts for local governments, and participated in the preparation of a study on the demographic future of European cities. Hanna worked on the health impact study of the energy efficient renewal program of the Hungarian housing estates. Lately, she has been working on the possible impact of collective self-organised housing on the European housing market. She has also focused on the possibilities of small business development in the areas of self-build and housing renewal and has been providing consultancy for Habitat for Humanity Europe, Middle East and Africa on the issue of energy efficiency in the framework of the REELIH project.

Written by Gyorgy Sumeghy, Advocacy Manager, Habitat for Humanity Europe, Middle East and Africa

The title of this new website captures very nicely that Habitat for Humanity International’s main focus when it comes to the energy efficiency of residential buildings are: the people. All our efforts are focusing on combatting energy poverty so that families should get  warmer homes and save money on their heating bills as a result of the retrofitting of their buildings.

We started to address residential energy efficiency more than 5 years ago with the support of USAID. We have run projects in Macedonia, Armenia and Bosnia and Hercegovina. We learned a lot from these projects and we also worked with researchers to better understand the context of residential energy efficiency in Central and Eastern Europe. We also engaged with many stakeholders both at the national level and at the European level and learned that our experience is worth sharing. That’s why we endeavored to develop a knowledge platform and launched this website to foster further knowledge sharing and policy dialogue among all the relevant actors in residential energy efficiency.

The current English version of this website will be soon complemented with an Armenian and Bosnian subpage targeting home-owner associations offering practical information how to start the retrofitting of their own buildings.

Because we all want to get warm homes!

György Sümeghy received his MA in English and Hungarian Literature in 1995 in Budapest. He spent ten years in public education and later at a private business college. Based on his management experience in education and volunteerism and interest in social development he joined Habitat for Humanity Hungary as National Director in 2005. Under his leadership, Habitat for Humanity Hungary has become an advocacy led organization where field projects support strong awareness raising and advocacy initiatives to change housing policies in the country. Gyorgy joined HFHI EMEA in 2013 to lead regional advocacy initiatives and support national advocacy programs in the EMEA region. He represents HFHI in Brussels and all over Europe at regional conferences and meetings.


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