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Energy should be an integral part of housing policy

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How to improve residential energy efficiency in South Eastern Europe and CIS - policy brief by HFHI


Recommendations for Central and Eastern European countries


Following the conference of the REELIH (Residential Energy Efficiency for Low Income Households) project in April 2017, project partner Habitat for Humanity has released a policy paper to brief national governments and international organisations.


The policy paper is based on the combined work of the REELIH project in several South Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries. It summarises country reports assessing the national financial schemes and measures to promote deep renovations of buildings.


In central and eastern European countries, around half of the building stock was constructed between 1960 and 1990, and was privatised after the collapse of the Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia. Although the quality and condition varies, there are similar characteristics among multi-family pre-fabricated housing, which influences the retrofit market.  


The policy paper also presents the multiple benefits of residential energy efficiency, including environmental, economic, and societal benefits. Renovation programmes would also contribute to quality of life for homeowners, and increase tenants’ ownership and sense of responsibility for improving common areas.


Challenges to improvements in residential energy efficiency are related to an insufficient institutional framework. The policy paper advocates for a strong public body with a consistent legal framework to help promote investments in energy efficiency. In general, the state is progressively disengaging from this sector, so lack of government support along with subsidised energy prices do not incentivise investment in energy efficiency projects with long payback periods. Market demand is also an issue, highlighting the necessity of training relevant stakeholders to raise awareness.


The policy paper gives the following recommendations:

  • There must be a system of clearly defined responsibilities for housing management and maintenance.
  • It is important to develop and implement financing mechanisms which are available and affordable to residents.
  • Assistance for preparing and implementing the renovation process is necessary.
  • Housing and social policies must be interlinked. 
  • Informational initiatives positively affect demand for energy efficiency.
  • International cooperation and knowledge exchange create opportunities.