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REELIH Project Impact Workshop

On April 28, 2022, Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) organised its last in-person event of the REELIH Project, which is approaching its end on August 30, 2022.


The REELIH Impact Workshop, titled "Sectorial approach to scale up residential energy efficiency in Central and Eastern Europe" and organised by HFHI, took place in Falkensteiner Hotel in Bratislava, Slovakia and included various speakers, panelists, and participants from different countries.

Andrew Popelka, Senior Energy Advisor at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), who partnered with HFHI and the local implementing partners - Habitat for Humanity Macedonia, Habitat for Humanity Armenia, and ENOVA (Bosnia and Herzegovina), opened the workshop with Zita Kakalejcikova, Manager of Residential Energy Projects at HFHI early in the morning.

REELIH Impact Workshop: opening speech by Andrew Popelka and Zita Kakalejcikova.

Program of the day

REELIH team prepared a set of three sessions with refreshing breaks to keep participants fully engaged. The first session tackled financing models for residential energy efficiency by introducing good practices and discussing existing bottlenecks. This session, moderated by Elena Milanovska, Associate Director of Capital Markets & Financial Inclusion at HFHI EME and Africa Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter, included speakers such as:

REELIH Impact Workshop: speakers for the first session from left to right: Dragomir Tzanev, Liljana Alceva, Yulia Pushko, Andrew Popelka, Elena Milanovska.

The next session discussed how National Building Renovation Strategies impact the renovation of the multi-apartment buildings. Moderated by Kestutis Kupsys, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Vice-president of Lithuanian Consumers Alliance (LVOA-ALCO), the session provided experience from multiple countries from the region of Central and Eastern Europe and Western Balkans, such as North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Estonia, and Lithuania in developing National Building Renovation Strategies and the successes and failures in its implementation. The speakers were:

REELIH Impact Workshop: audience

The last session of the REELIH Impact Workshop was a bit more interactive as it asked participants to split into three breakout sessions. This allowed the participants to learn about good practices from the three implementing countries of the REELIH project, namely Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia in an original setting, through story-telling of project contributors from the three implementing countries.

REELIH Impact Workshop: participants, organizers, speakers

This in-person meeting was a great refreshment after all the online meetings and gatherings this group of people had attended over the last two years. Even though the REELIH project is ending, we hope this group of experts will continue the established practices and meetings and secure a continuation of REELIH's core aim and mission.

For more pictures, visit our resources photo gallery.

The truth is that energy efficiency of residential sector has finally gained more attention among the key EU stakeholders. It became clear that the building sector is critical for achieving EU's environmental goals. However, as we pay more and more attention to this issue, investment gaps in residential sector financing of energy efficiency are becoming increasingly evident. One among many financial support mechanisms aiming at the residential sector are grants. Speaking about the existing gaps, these are not an exemption. On November 18, 2021, the Energy Community therefore organized a Workshop on financing energy efficiency in residential sector. Participating experts aimed to explore the state of energy efficiency measures in the residential sector with respect to financing.

Energy Community: Who are they?

With the aim of establishing a stable Pan-European energy market, in October 2005, the European Commission has signed the Energy Community Treaty establishing a new international organization, the Energy Community.

The main objective of this organization is to extend the EU energy acquis to countries in South East Europe, the Black Sea region and beyond. In doing so, the Energy Community seeks to improve the environmental situation, enhance economic development, and strengthen social stability across the region.

Recently, on November 30, 2021, the Energy Community held its Ministerial Council, where it adopted five key legislative acts towards the implementation of the Clean Energy for all Europeans package. At the next Ministerial Council planned for 2022, the Energy Community will adopt renewables, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030.

Energy Community in Action: Workshop on Financing Energy Efficiency in the Residential Sector

To foster the dialogue, Energy Community actively engages the stakeholders from the field on numerous occasions. On November 18, 2021, the Energy Community organized a Workshop on financing energy efficiency in the residential sector. Above all, the energy crisis has proved that integration of small isolated markets at pan-European level is crucial. Stable environment for financing and investment decisions is key to boost energy performance of buildings that is institutionally anchored in the EU´s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and the Energy Efficiency Directive.

Therefore, the workshop brought together speakers from various organizations and institutions who shared their insightful expertise. The main topic of their discussion was allocation and share of grants as financing tools to reach energy efficiency targets. Moreover, they also talked about different possibilities of other scaling up elements of renovations.

Voices of Experience and Expertise

Among others, Tamara Babayan from the World Bank and Set Landau from the consultant firm Eco ltd. presented the findings of their extensive “Residential Energy Efficiency Market Analysis in the Western Balkans”.

Nora Cimili, Energy Efficiency Specialist from the Millennium Foundation Kosovo (MFK) presented about Pilot Subsidies on Energy Efficiency in Kosovo, that are part of Reliable Energy Landscape Project implemented via Kosovo Threshold Program that is funded by Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) - an agency of the US government.

How to make lending to homeowner associations attractive?

Habitat for Humanity International was honored to participate at this workshop as well. Gyorgy Sumeghy, Associate Director, Policy and Advocacy, presented about financing gaps that exist in the housing sector of Western Balkan countries.

In these countries, homeowners associations (HOAs) of multi-apartment buildings are perceived as extremely high-risk targets of lending by banks. As Gyorgy explained, the reasons for such a restrained perspective of banking sector are various. They include limited availability of financing products, restricted institutional capacities, or viability of lending. As a result, in Western Balkan countries, lending to HOAs is insignificant, if not non-existent. Gyorgy talked about all the key gaps in banking and introduced specific recommendations for:

If interested to find out more about these, you can read the full analysis prepared by our experts here: “Gap Analysis of the Housing Sector in Western Balkans: Bosnia and Hercegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia vs. Slovak Republic”.

To find out more about the presentations of other speakers, visit the website of Energy Community and feel free to download their presentations here.

"Housing governance to support housing affordability"

is a Regional Online Workshop that took place during the last week of February 2021. It was co-organized by the Ministry of Environment and Spatial planning of Slovenia and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), together with the support of Housing Europe, the Union for the Mediterranean and UN-Habitat. The event opened up for a discussion about the undersupply of affordable housing, homelessness, rising urban rents, low quality of housing and urban infrastructure, limited access to land for housing construction and renovation, and mounting urban poverty in the UNECE region. These challenges has been long on rise, however, the Covid-19 pandemic situation made the need of sustainable and affordable housing one of the most important policy challenges of current days.

Affordable and adequate housing is far from being a standard within the UNECE region and is especially important for vulnerable groups which at the same time suffer also from limited access to healthcare, fuel poverty and price inflation. Moreover, mounting unemployment connected with Covid-19 pandemic widens the number of people in the need of housing and other basic services even more. The UNECE, representing a diverse region with ranging national and local contexts of housing sector and its legal frameworks, decided to organize this online workshop to share knowledge and good practice for inspiration and allowing others to formulate viable and sustainable solutions to long-standing housing issues in this region together with responding to the world pandemic crisis.


The workshop was organized as a two days event. The first day of the workshop was dedicated to the theme of key international initiatives on affordable housing in Europe and on governance for affordable, adequate and healthy housing for all.

The morning of the second day was reserved for discussion of #Housing2030: Improving Housing Affordability in the UNECE Region. It is a new UNECE study under development with a goal of improving capacities of national and local governments to formulate policies that improve housing affordability and sustainability in the UNECE region. As one of the topics of this study addresses housing governance and regulation, the UNECE reserved this time for workshop session with a focus on the preparation of this chapter of the #Housing2030 study.

The final session of the two-day workshop called "Governance of the housing sector: Focus on South-East Europe" was oriented towards housing policies in countries of the South-Eastern Europe.

Andrew Popelka, a representative of the USAID which provides funding for REELIH project, contributed to the session with a comprehensive presentation of a new comparative study Gap Analysis of the Housing Sector In Western Balkan Countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Serbia VS. Slovak Republic. The study identifies and analyses the gaps in housing regulations in the Western Balkans.

REELIH project is mentioned in this study to manifest its impact on establishing mechanisms that help people in REELIH implementing countries to find consensus and get finances for renovation of the multi-owner apartment buildings.

Andrew Popelka admits that the multi-owned apartment buildings lack the attention of the donors since the multi-ownership of the building complicates the overall decision making prior and also during the renovation works. That is another reason why REELIH works on creating more financing possibilities for these buildings, providing technical assistance and serving as a mediator in the complex environment of many stakeholders included.

We would like to thank the UNECE for organizing this workshop and to Andrew Popelka from USAID for his contribution to this workshop, again showcasing REELIH as a good practice in the region of Central and Eastern Europe.

Find more information about the UNECE workshop here. 

Find a new comparative study by USAID here.


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

ENERGY POVERTY: From Household Problems to Climate Crisis.

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

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

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

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

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

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