International experts are developing support services for tackling energy poverty and renovating Soviet-era buildings in CEE countries

Experts from Central and Eastern Europe have cooperated in EU-funded CEESEN-BENDER project to empower and support vulnerable homeowners and renters living in Soviet-era multiapartment buildings in 5 CEE countries: Croatia, Slovenia, Estonia, Poland, and Romania. The project will help them through the renovation process by identifying the main obstacles and creating trustworthy support services that include homeowners, their associations, and building managers.

Today, buildings are responsible for 40% of Europe’s total energy consumption. Therefore, EU policy has prioritised the identification of dwellings and citizens at a higher risk of energy poverty in order to develop effective strategies for building renovation. In accordance with energy efficiency’s first principle, building renovation must be prioritized when discussing the overall solution to energy poverty. Furthermore, addressing energy poverty, like energy transition in general, should be socially just and inclusive.

In order to address these problems, consortium of partners has been funded from EU’s LIFE programme in order to implement the CEESEN-BENDER project (“Building intErventions in vulNerable Districts against Energy”), which was launched on September 1, 2023 and will last until August 31, 2026.

First, The project will analyze the ownership structure and physical characteristics of buildings in the 5 pilot sites in targeted regions (Estonia, Slovenia, Poland, Romania, and Hungary) to comprehensively understand the underlying obstacles that impede or halt homeowner associations, landlords, and property managers from pursuing energy renovations. At the same time, partners of the project will identify both legislation and financial, and technical administrative obstacles for the renovation in pilot countries. The identification of obstacles from the homeowners’ perspective will help the creation of tailor-made solutions not only for homeowners but also for building managers, landlords, municipalities, and other relevant stakeholders involved in the renovation process.

As a part of the project, tools that can be used to address different aspects of energy poverty will be developed. This includes data gathering on energy poverty in the pilot sites, creating a digital tool identifying buildings with high levels of energy-poor households in greatest need of renovation, creating a model of potential savings in buildings undergoing renovation, and creating a tool for calculating the return on investment for energy renovations.

Within the project, 5 pilot area roadmaps will be developed, that prioritize building renovation based on their potential for maximizing emissions reduction via energy savings as well as an increase of quality of life and wellbeing for vulnerable homeowners. Within the 5 pilot areas, at least 30 building-level roadmaps will be created that specify the technical details for renovations. The project partners will help these pilot buildings in the entire pre-construction phase from drawing of plans, to applying for permits, audits, or other requirements for financing. Plans will call for the decarbonization of the heating and cooling supply and integration of renewable energy sources (RES), to produce energy to cover its own consumption.

Also, a support system will be created for homeowners, municipalities, and other large owners of multiapartment buildings in the targeted regions to speed up the renovation process. This includes training at least 3500 homeowners, landlords and building managers on legal, financial, technical and other aspects of energy renovations. In addition, it entails advocating for changes of regulatory requirements and policies to lower the costs and time needed for the preparatory phase of projects. Also, at least 30 energy professionals will be trained on energy poverty and related topics.

CEESEN-BENDER’s project coordinator is Society for Sustainable Development Design (DOOR) from Croatia. Other partner organisations of the project include University of Tartu (UTARTU), Local Energy Agency Spodnje Podravje (LEASP), Alba Local Energy Agency (ALEA), Climate Alliance (CA), Medjimurje Energy Agency (MENEA), Mazovian Energy Agency (MAE), Tartu Regional Energy Agency (TREA), Municipality of Alba Iulia (ALBA IULIA), and Central Eastern European Sustainable Energy Network (CEESEN). Associated partners of the project are Housing Cooperative “Marysin Wawerski” (SM Marysin Waw), EUROLAND Ltd. (Euroland), GP STANORAD Ltd. (GP STANORAD) and the Estonian Union of Co-operative Housing Associations (EKYL).

The CEESEN-BENDER project has received funding from the European Union’s Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE 2021-2027) under grant agreement n° LIFE 101120994. The budget of the project is EUR 1.85 million, of which the amount of EU support is EUR 1.75 million.

More information about the project can be found here:

Additional information:
Matija Eppert
Project Lead for CEESEN-BENDER