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Energy Community: Workshop on Financing Energy Efficiency in Residential Sector

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.

BBC StoryWorks Commercial Productions, in cooperation with Housing Europe, is introducing a new online film series named
Building Communities.

The film series aims to react to current situation around COVID-19 crisis which exacerbated housing problems across Europe and globe. As "staying home" became the motto throughout the months of world pandemic, question of housing gained much more attention.

There are stories behind every door. Meet the people building homes and building communities.

Hence, challenges connected to housing quality and accessibility became the center of the new BBC film series. These challenges are addressed thanks to a set of short videos showcasing forward-thinking innovators, and projects pioneering new ways to build more sustainable and energy-efficient homes. The stories show initiatives working on building quality and new homes, renovating Europe's housing and fostering communities. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about these challenges, to recognize the very different approaches and initiatives tackling them around Europe, to bring more understanding to a complex environment of housing in different contexts, and to change the perception of housing by showcasing numerous positive stories.

We set out to bring understanding to the complex environment of housing, exploring the common misconceptions and speaking to the people and organisations committed to innovative and radical thinking to transform the sector. We’re delighted to be launching Building Communities, a series which we believe brings positive headlines to this forward thinking and transformative sector.Simon Shelley, global director of BBC Programme Partnerships - part of BBC StoryWorks

 

We are excited to announce that REELIH project became one of the inspiring examples featured in this online film series. The video about challenges tackled in the environment of residential building sector and its energy efficiency in Central and Eastern Europe was filmed in North Macedonia to showcase the good work done under REELIH project in creation of enabling environment for homeowners to improve the quality of their dwellings and lives.

You can watch the REELIH project story here.

 


This video was produced for Habitat for Humanity International and USAID by BBC StoryWorks, the commercial content division of BBC Global News.

The Eleventh International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development organized by UNECE aims to bring together professionals from its member states to tackle the issue of access to affordable and clean energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint. The Forum acknowledges the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for resolutions, but it also calls for focus on the need for a more sustainable environment. Therefore, the UNECE Forum will look into topics such as fossil fuels, achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, enhancing integration of the energy markets and the transition to a sustainable energy system.

 

This year, the UNECE Forum will be organized in a hybrid form with the majority of the events held online, through numerous workshops on sustainable energy and its role in achieving Sustainable Development Goals, mainly SDG 7. The UNECE Forum will be attended by international energy experts, government officials, and representatives from academia, businesses, and civil society.

We are happy to announce that also the second REELIH regional conference is featured among the events under the scope of the Forum.

The UNECE Forum will start with its first session - the Eight session of the Group of Experts on Energy Efficiency - already on September 20, 2021.

The group of experts will discuss the possibilities to improve energy efficiency in industry and buildings through the process and use of digitalization. Furthermore, the existing regulatory and policy barriers which disable the improvement of energy efficiency will be discussed.

The session is especially significant for the REELIH project as Andrew Popelka, a representative of the USAID, will contribute to the discussion with a short presentation about our in-depth 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 analyses the gaps in the housing sector in the Western Balkans from different perspectives, including housing legal and regulatory structures, energy efficiency of residential building stock, and finance.

As a matter of fact, the Gap analysis highlighted the REELIH project and the impact it has in the implementing countries - mainly by establishing new mechanisms that help people to find consensus and get capital for the renovation of multi-apartment buildings. To learn more about the analysis, see the full report here.

We invite everyone to join all the interesting sessions of the upcoming UNECE Forum that will start off with a discussion including also our contribution.


Read the Gap analysis here.

Find more information about the UNECE 11th International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development here.

 

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.

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.

 

 

Općina Centar Sarajevo / Municipality Centar Sarajevo | LinkedInThe REELIH project of USAID and HFHI, has been implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2012. Thanks to the project, technical assistance for the development of the institutional environment and a sustainable financing model for energy efficiency measures in the housing sector with a focus on low-income households was provided in localities of Tuzla Canton, Central Bosnia Canton, Bosnia-Podrinje Canton, Tesanj and Doboj. We are very excited that from March until November 2021, the project will be implemented in yet the seventh location, Municipality of Centar Sarajevo, Sarajevo Canton.

This municipality is one of Sarajevo's four and belongs to the most developed municipalities in Sarajevo Canton. The development of this municipality is citizen-focused, concentrating on their well-being and accelerating their potential. The aim of Municipality of Centar is to establish and maintain the environmental balance and commitment to modernization of its services and institutions. The implementation of REELIH project can definitely contribute to reaching this goal.

The agreement was mediated by the REELIH implementing company ENOVA in Bosnia and Herzegovina. ENOVA started the implementation of the project by presenting the REELIH project in the presence of Centar's Mayor Srđan Mandić, and other representatives of relevant municipal services.

One of the goals of the REELIH project implemented in the Municipality of Centar is to adopt a five-year action plan for measures to increase energy efficiency in the housing sector based on a development of suitable financing program. Results should contribute to a creation of long-term capacities for implementation of energy efficiency programs in the housing sector of this municipality.

Fingers crossed for a successful implementation of the REELIH project in this Bosnian municipality!

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.

Year 2020 is rather a strange year due to enormous impact of COVID-19 crisis that has changed the way of living of most people around the world. At the same time, the question of adequate housing became "a must" and moved to the center of many discussions around the globe which is overall a positive sign. Since in-person conferences are still not in the foreseeable, the discussion moved to the online space. Even though the online versions of conferences do not bring the benefit of personal meeting with various specialists and stakeholders, the conferences and enriching presentations, on the other hand, become more accessible for anyone who is interested in the topic. And so, there are many opportunities this month to learn more about energy efficiency and housing from different perspectives since many leading housing organizations considered October as the best time of the year to organize at least online form of their, some already postponed, events.

 

Sustainable Cities Week

The first week of October 2020, UN-ECE organizes exceptionally an in-person event Sustainable Cities Week in Geneva, Switzerland. The first day of this event is dedicated to discussion of SDG 11, its successes and challenges in implementation process. The second day belongs to The Forum of Mayors bringing together city leaders from Europe, North America, Central Asia and Caucasus under this year's topic "City action for a resilient future". Next two days are reserved for the 81st Session of the Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Land Management to discuss the implementation of key international agreements such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the New Urban Agenda and the Geneva UN Charter for Sustainable Housing. The last day belongs to the annual meeting of Sustainable Smart Cities.

 

FEANTSA Online Conference

FEANSTA Conference 2020 is another event held online in the first week of October. This is an online version of their annual conference that usually takes place in June. This online event will be composed of series of webinars running throughout the whole week. For each day, they prepared series of three one-hour webinars. The topics cover homelessness in various perspectives, talking about specific groupings of people, such as LGBTIQ, asylum seekers and refugees, working poor, women, youth... COVID-19 and its impact on the homelessness will be discussed as well, together with social enterprises, eviction prevention, housing first initiative and usage of EU Funds to combat homelessness.

 

Housing Europe Annual Conference

HOUSING EUROPE's Annual Conference has been, too, moved to online world. The narrative of this high level event will be a bit unusual, ceasing from the price tags and financial issues connected to housing in big cities. Instead, it will be leading the focus toward much-neglected social value of housing.

 

 

The 15th Annual Session of Global Forum on Human Settlements & Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements Awards Ceremony

Another online event is organized between October 15 and 16, 2020 by Global Forum On Human Settlements as The 15th Annual Session of Global Forum on Human Settlements & Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements Awards Ceremony. The main theme of the event is Post-Pandemic Recovery and Transformation: Resilient Cities, Healthy Planet. Thematic Forum 2b will be on energy-efficient and sustainable housing prepared and hosted by UN-ECE.

 

The 18th European Week of Regions and Cities 2020

The last, but definitely not the least, October event is the three week series of online events under the 18th European Week of Regions and Cities 2020. Each week is dedicated to different topic, first being "Empowering citizens", second on "Cohesion and Cooperation", and the last on "Green Europe". On Monday, 19 October, there will be a session on Energy efficiency: low-income households where Brussels-Capital Region, Ghent, Lille Metropole and Vienna will share their actions in upgrading the energy efficiency of existing buildings and alleviating energy poverty for low-income households.

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