Meet Tartu’s Regional Energy Agency (TREA) – partner of the CEESEN-BENDER project

TREA is proud to be a key partner in the CEESEN-BENDER project, a European initiative focused on addressing energy poverty and promoting sustainable energy practices. This project is supported by the LIFE Programme of the European Union, aiming to create a significant impact on energy efficiency and the adoption of renewable energy sources.

Tartu’s Regional Energy Agency is a pioneering non-governmental organization based in Tartu, Estonia. With a steadfast commitment to supporting municipalities and apartment associations, TREA excels in providing comprehensive energy management solutions. As an active participant in international cooperation networks, TREA introduces the latest innovations in energy transition to the South-Estonian region.

Empowering Vulnerable Communities

While CEESEN-BENDER project specifically targets vulnerable homeowners and renters, offering tailored solutions to enhance their living conditions through energy-efficient renovations, TREA plays a crucial role in this project. By developing comprehensive renovation roadmaps for selected buildings TREA makes sure that these roadmaps include technical considerations, scopes of work, cost estimates, and strategies to minimize inconvenience for residents, ensuring maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

Leading the Charge with Expert Leadership

Under the leadership of Martin Kikas, TREA’s director and a certified technical expert in multi-apartment building renovation, TREA has established itself as a beacon of innovation and progress. Martin’s extensive experience in energy performance certification, policy development, and project management, including notable projects like SmartEnCity and RenoZeb, drives TREA's initiatives forward.

Supporting Martin is a team of seasoned professionals, including Ülo Kask, thermal engineering expert with decades of research and development experience in renewable energy and sustainable development planning. Team also includes Kalle Virkus, a civil engineering specialist focused on energy efficiency in buildings and a certified technical expert in multi-apartment building renovation. And daily project coordination at CEESEN-BENDER is done by Marten Saareoks, an energy application engineer with expertise in smart building applications, renewable integration, and energy and climate planning.

Strategic Projects and Initiatives

TREA’s involvement in key European projects underscores its commitment to sustainable energy development. Notable projects include:

  • ENPOR (2020-2023): A project aimed at mitigating energy poverty in the private rented sector by enhancing visibility and addressing energy efficiency challenges.
  • RENOVERTY (2022-2025): Focused on developing renovation roadmaps for rural buildings to address energy poverty and facilitate reconstruction processes.
  • SmartEnCity (2016-2021): Raised awareness about energy efficiency and renewable solutions, particularly in Tartu.
  • REFURB (2015-2017): Aimed at removing barriers to energy renovation in the private housing sector, providing homeowners with compelling renovation offers.

In fact, TREA is a crucial partner in other CEESEN’s projects besides CEESEN-BENDER as well, such as CEESEU-DIGIT, CEESEU and PANEL2050.

Building Partnerships for Lasting Impact

TREA's success is built on strong partnerships with local authorities, utility suppliers, private companies, and educational institutions. These collaborations foster a culture of innovation and sustainability, enabling TREA to craft and implement Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) and Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs).

Moreover, TREA’s collaboration with the Estonian Union of Co-operative Housing Associations (EKYL) extends its reach, supporting apartment associations across Estonia. This partnership enhances TREA’s ability to influence energy policies and support local stakeholders in energy management and sustainability efforts.

The Future of Sustainable Energy with CEESEN-BENDER

As a CEESEN-BENDER partner, TREA is committed to empowering residents to adopt energy-efficient behaviors post-renovation. Through targeted training, community engagement campaigns, and advisory services, TREA ensures the long-term success of energy efficiency initiatives.

TREA’s partnership in the CEESEN-BENDER project highlights its dedication to driving sustainable energy practices and combating energy poverty. Through strategic initiatives and collaborative efforts, TREA is paving the way for a more resilient, equitable, and sustainable future for all.

Learn more about TREA and its transformative work:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/trea/


Meet the Medjimurje Energy Agency - partner of the CEESEN-BENDER project

Medjimurje Energy Agency Ltd. (MENEA) stands as a pivotal player in the ongoing CEESEN-BENDER project, an initiative aimed at promoting sustainable energy development and tackling energy poverty in Medjimurje County, Croatia, and beyond. 

Established in 2008 within the framework of the EU-funded project "Creation of the energy agencies in Lleida (ES), Medjimurje (HR), and Montpellier (FR)", MENEA has been at the forefront of driving energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives in the region.

As a partner in the CEESEN-BENDER project, MENEA brings to the table a wealth of expertise and experience in promoting sustainable energy practices tailored to the unique needs of Medjimurje County. With a mission to address informational, technical, and supportive needs related to renewable energy and energy efficiency, MENEA is well-positioned to empower local communities, industries, and public institutions to adopt sustainable energy solutions.

In fact, experts from MENEA have contributed to several CEESEN projects while participating also in the current CEESEU-DIGIT project and now contributing as an expert in CEESEN-BENDER project.

Experts tackling energy poverty

One of the primary focuses of MENEA within the CEESEN-BENDER project is addressing the challenge of energy poverty. MENEA's initiatives aim to alleviate energy poverty by implementing targeted interventions aimed at private households and multi-apartment buildings. Through awareness-raising campaigns and strategic partnerships, MENEA endeavors to mitigate the negative socio-economic impacts of energy poverty on vulnerable communities.

MENEA is represented in the CEESEN-BENDER project by a dedicated team of professionals led by Alen Višnjić, who brings in his extensive experience in electrical engineering and project management. Under Višnjić's leadership, MENEA collaborates closely with other project partners to develop and implement innovative solutions to enhance energy efficiency and promote renewable energy adoption in Medjimurje County.

Driving systemic change

MENEA's participation in transnational projects funded by different national and EU programmes underscores its commitment to driving systemic change. Project initiatives like RURES, EE-SUN, SEPlaM-CC, CEESEU and CO-EMEP aim to enhance energy efficiency, promote renewable energy sources, raise capacities for effective energy and climate change-related planning, and address energy poverty at regional and local levels. By leveraging its expertise and resources, MENEA contributes to the realization of a more sustainable and resilient future for Medjimurje County and beyond.

MENEA's influence extends beyond organizational boundaries through strategic partnerships with local stakeholders, governmental institutions, and EU bodies. By collaborating on initiatives such as the development of Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs), energy efficiency projects, and cross-border cooperation efforts, MENEA fosters a culture of innovation and sustainability. Moreover, affiliated entities like GP STANORAD Ltd. and EUROLAND Ltd. play a crucial role in facilitating further communication and engagement between MENEA and local communities.

As a key partner in the CEESEN-BENDER project, MENEA plays a crucial role in advancing sustainable energy development in Medjimurje County. With a focus on addressing energy poverty, fostering strategic partnerships, and driving systemic change, MENEA is poised to make a significant impact in building a greener, more sustainable future for the region and beyond.

Learn more about MENEA:


CEESEN Participates in EUSEW 2024 Energy Fair

We are thrilled to announce that the Central and Eastern European Sustainable Energy Network (CEESEN) will be participating in the EUSEW 2024 Energy Fair. This premier event, taking place from June 11-13 in Brussels, brings together key players in sustainable energy to showcase innovations and network.

CEESEN’s stand (C-6), titled "Sustainable revolution and clean energy transition in Central and Eastern Europe," will highlight the progress and challenges in the Central and Eastern European region’s energy transition. Visitors can explore sustainable energy and climate action plans, green transition initiatives, take quizzes and make digital pledges for sustainable practices.

Join us at the EUSEW 2024 Energy Fair to connect with like-minded individuals and discover collaborative opportunities to drive sustainable energy solutions forward in our region

Take the pledge at EUSEW to power the green transition: https://forms.gle/6CwB7SR1JNiYXdAJ7

Take the quiz on sustainable energy and energy and climate plans: https://youengage.me/p/6667e909c3f25d010003ea2a


48 hours of DIGI-GREEN hackathon brought solutions for supporting green revolution

From May 10-12, the DIGI+GREEN hackathon took place at the Jõhvi Concert Hall, where 36 young people, organised into 7 teams, sought solutions for leveraging digital data to advance the green transition. With the help of mentors and coaches, their brainstorming sessions led to the development of functional prototypes from initial ideas within just a few days, providing value to both the business and public sectors.

The three-day long hackathon started with an inspiration day and culminated with team presentations and prototype pitches to an international jury. The head organiser of the hackathon and the project manager of the University of Tartu, Elis Vollmer, noted that the format of the event with its 90-second limit for the performance made all the participants think about how to highlight the value of new solutions in a tight competition.

"In striving for societal change, we must find new ways to use digital skills, knowledge, and data to support our efforts. Equally important to having a good idea is the ability to quickly implement it in practice and communicate its value to others. Only then can we effectively leverage digital data and tools for a truly fair green transition and energy security," Vollmer noted.

A close battle for shaping the future

Prof Vincent Homburg, professor of e-governance at the University of Tartu and one of the mentors and jury members of the hackathon, noted that it was fascinating to watch strangers get together for 48 hours, work intensely for joint vision, and end up with practical working prototypes that can help improve lives of our citizens.

As a result of jury deliberation, the winning solution for the hackathon was WATTSmart – an app that analyses the user's energy consumption and recommends suitable electricity-saving methods. The solution uses machine learning techniques, which allows the app to tailor its recommendations according to the consumer's behaviour as well as income level. The winning team was awarded €3,000 worth of consultancy and support services to turn their idea into reality.

In a very close competition, solution named Guideless came second and was also awarded a special Ida-Viru prize by the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Estonia. The app focuses on eco-friendly tourism, which is especially suited for self-guided hikers/tourists and helps to plan a suitable day trip in terms of time and money including visits, transport and catering. It allows visitors to make informed choices and also provides a user-friendly platform for tourism-related service providers.

The second special prize from Eesti Energia for the best energy-related solution went to an educational energy game GriVi, which aims to introduce the player to the functioning of the energy system and the impact of different factors on the functioning and price of energy.

Public Good, on the other hand, is a solution that strikes the audience with its interesting and exemplary approach, improving the use of data. It aims to create a data engagement platform to enable the public sector to make better use of privately owned data to create better e-services. According to Elis Vollmer, the main organiser of the hackathon, the exchange of data between the public and the private sector is currently poorly organised and unregulated – therefore, such a solution would help to better harness data for the benefit of the public sector, bringing direct benefits to local citizens.

The idea was also flagged because it would be a solution for the direct benefit of society, without having the same quick business potential as other apps and tools. The special prize for this solution was a Cleantech Estonia consultation and tickets to the sTARTUp Day, so that the team behind the solution could get more inspiration and advice to develop their solution into a real service.

Two solutions at the event were related to forestry, a topic heavily under attention in Estonia. Both, Silva Future and 4est.ai, enable forest owners make better decisions on how to manage their forests in an environmentally friendly way.

The Audience Favourite award was won by G-block, a solution that helps to prove that crypto miners use 100% green electricity.

The hackathon was organised by the University of Tartu in collaboration with Garage 48. The hackathon was supported by the Estonian University of Life Sciences, Startup Estonia, Cleantech Estonia, Eesti Energia, Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Estonia, sTARTUp Day, Tehnopol, Environmental Investment Centre and Eesti Kontsert.

The hackathon was co-funded by the ECePS ERA Chair that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 857622. The event is supported by the CEESEU-DIGIT project, funded by the European Union’s Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE 2014-2020) under grant agreement n° LIFE 101077297.

Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Research Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.


Meet the Climate Alliance - partner of the CEESEN-BENDER project

Meet the Climate Alliance - partner of the CEESEN-BENDER project

In a timely move aimed at tackling energy poverty head-on, the Climate Alliance has officially partnered with the CEESEN-BENDER project. This exciting collaboration marks an important milestone in the fight against energy poverty, as two powerhouse organizations (Climate Alliance and CESEEN) join forces in this EU-funded LIFE  project to make a tangible difference in the lives of vulnerable communities across Central and Eastern Europe.

For over 30 years, Climate Alliance member municipalities have been acting in partnership with indigenous rainforest peoples for the benefit of the global climate. With nearly 2,000 members spread across more than 25 countries, Climate Alliance is the largest European city network dedicated to fair and comprehensive climate action. Climate Alliance brings in its experience with supporting municipalities in their efforts to fight energy poverty channeling results to the leading EU initiative on local action against energy poverty: the Energy Poverty Advisory Hub. In answering how climate protection and adaptation should be practiced in our cities and towns, Climate Alliance pairs local action with global responsibility. 

In fact, experts from Climate Alliance have contributed to several CEESEN projects while participating also in the CEESEU-DIGIT project and contributing as an experts in CEESEN-BENDER project.

Shaping climate action

Climate Alliance's track record of success speaks for itself. Since its inception, the organization has been a driving force behind initiatives such as the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, which has garnered the support of over 10,000 local authorities across Europe and beyond. As a key player in both the European and international contexts, Climate Alliance continues to lead the charge in facilitating meaningful action on climate change at the local level.

The towns and cities of the Alliance have each passed a local resolution on membership in which they embrace the association's goals. These are:

  • To strive for a 95 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, in line with IPCC recommendations.
  • To implement effective and comprehensive climate action in accordance with Climate Alliance principles.
  • To promote climate justice together with indigenous peoples by supporting their rights, protecting biodiversity and abstaining from the use of unsustainably managed timber.

A comprehensive approach

Climate Alliance has developed a comprehensive methodology to assist its members in preparing, implementing, and monitoring their local climate and energy plans. This includes cutting-edge CO2 monitoring tools to track emissions reductions and a benchmarking system to enhance the learning experience. Leveraging its extensive experience coordinating and participating in various EC projects, Climate Alliance brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table, making it a natural fit for the ambitious goals of the CEESEN-BENDER project.

Climate Alliance is responsible in the CEESEN-BENDER project for set-up and coordination of support tools and capacity-building of energy professionals, while taking the lead for developing the training materials on providing consultations to vulnerable groups related to energy poverty.

In the CEESEN-BENDER project, Eva Suba and Karine Jegiazarjana contribute with their expertise, to provide the valuable knowhow of Climate Alliance to the international partnership of this project.

With Climate Alliance’s experts on board, the CEESEN-BENDER project is poised to make an even greater impact in the fight against energy poverty. By leveraging Climate Alliance's extensive network, expertise, and resources, the project aims to empower vulnerable communities, foster sustainable development, and pave the way for a brighter, greener future for all.

Learn more about Climate Alliance: 


Meet the Alba Local Energy Agency - partner of the CEESEN-BENDER project

Introducing Alba Local Energy Agency (ALEA) – a dynamic non-governmental organization established in 2008 with a mission to champion sustainable energy development. As a partner in the CEESEN-BENDER project, ALEA is determined to bring its expertise and passion for sustainable energy to empower vulnerable homeowners and renters, contributing to a brighter, greener future for all.

Backed by the esteemed Intelligent Energy – Europe Programme, ALEA has been steadfast in its commitment to bolstering energy efficiency, enhancing energy management practices, and advocating for the widespread adoption of renewable energy sources. With a rich tapestry of initiatives spanning over a decade, ALEA stands as a beacon of innovation and progress in the realm of sustainable energy.

Empowering sustainable development

ALEA aims on one hand to become a competent authority in promoting sustainable development in Alba County, Romania, by reinforcing the current energy status, and on the other hand to be a decisive factor in changing the mentality of people as energy consumers.

In CEESEN-BENDER project, ALEA is responsible for buildings selected for roadmaps of renovation. This entails 30 in-depth, tailored building-level roadmaps for renovations with included technical considerations, scope of work to be performed, cost, residence inconvenience and maximum efficiency.

Main Objectives of the Agency:

  1. Formulation of energy policy at county level.
  2. Support given to local authorities in the development and implementation of local action plans for sustainable energy.
  3. Promoting energy efficiency projects in economic entities, buildings belonging to public institutions, housing, public utility systems.
  4. Promote the implementation of systems for producing energy from renewable sources in Alba County.
  5. Raising awareness and educating intelligent energy both citizens and decision-makers from local government and the private sector.

At the helm of this visionary institution is Florin Andronescu, a seasoned professional with a degree in power engineering and a wealth of expertise in energy management for public authorities. His leadership, coupled with a deep-rooted passion for sustainability, has propelled ALEA to the forefront of the green revolution in Alba County.

The team behind ALEA's success

ALEA's success story is not one of individual brilliance; rather, it is a testament to the collective efforts of a dedicated team of experts. Laurențiu Miheț, a technical expert with a degree in environmental engineering, brings a nuanced understanding of energy systems and project implementation to the table. Meanwhile, Tiberiu Toma, a communication maestro with a flair for engaging storytelling, spearheads ALEA's outreach efforts with finesse and creativity. Together, they form an unstoppable force driving positive change in the community.

Building partnerships for sustainable impact

ALEA's impact transcends mere organizational boundaries. Through strategic partnerships with local authorities, utilities suppliers, private companies, and educational institutions, ALEA has fostered a culture of collaboration and innovation that is truly transformative. From crafting Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) and Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) to setting up the Alba Regional Energy Observatory (ANERGO), ALEA's footprint in the sustainable energy landscape is indelible.

Moreover, ALEA's participation in initiatives such as CEESEU, SUPPORT, DATA4ACTION, and SIMPLA underscores its unwavering commitment to driving systemic change at regional and national levels. By building capacity, empowering local authorities, and facilitating data-driven decision-making, ALEA is paving the way for a more resilient, equitable, and sustainable future.

Learn more about ALEA:

 


Meet the Local Energy Agency Spodnje Podravje - partner of the CEESEN-BENDER project

In a strategic alliance aimed at addressing energy poverty, CEESEN-BENDER proudly announces its partnership with the esteemed Local Energy Agency Spodnje Podravje (LEASP). This collaboration marks a great milestone in the pursuit of advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy adoption in the Podravje region and sharing the practices beyond the region, with whole Central and Eastern Europe.

Founded with the backing of the Intelligent Energy - Europe programme, LEASP has emerged as a pivotal player in energy management across more than 20 municipalities. Its diverse portfolio encompasses a spectrum of activities ranging from developing local energy concepts to conducting energy audits and implementing renewable energy solutions. LEASP has more than 10 years of experiences in the field of energy renovation, energy analysis, energy auditing in public and private sector as well in industry and training of experts and citizens.

In fact, experts from LEASP have contributed to several CEESEN projects while participating also in the CEESEU-DIGIT project and contributing as an as expert in CEESEN-BENDER project.

Contributing to solutions for tackling energy poverty and renovating Soviet-era buildings

From September 2023 to 2026, LEASP is one of the experts in the EU-funded CEESEN-BENDER project that empowers and supports 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.

With LEASP taking the lead on initiatives such as the development and implementation of building-level roadmaps and investment strategies, this partnership in the project will greatly help to tackle the energy poverty.

In the project, LEASP is focusing on creating roadmaps and support services for building energy renovations for vulnerable districts. 

The objectives of these activities is to:

  1. Develop 5 Pilot Area Roadmaps that enable the owners of large housing stocks or municipal/regional governments to strategically target energy poor buildings that would have the most impact by being renovated.
  2. Provide high quality, integrated counselling and support to all key stakeholders in the five targeted regions, including special needs or other vulnerable groups.
  3. Develop and implement building-level roadmaps that carry out all pre-requisite steps needed to be able to make energy efficient improvements in buildings with high levels of energy poverty.

Read more about the CEESEN-BENDER project >> 

In CEESEN-BENDER, the LEASP is represented by the project manager Roman Kekec.

LEASP has previously also participated in other CEESEN-related projects (PANEL2050, CEESEU etc) and is currently also active partner in CEESEU-DIGIT project.

The mandate of the LEASP is enhancing the sustainable energy development in the region with the developing projects, studies, documents, and with helping the municipalities and investors to find the financial sources for projects and investments in energy sector, to control implementation (technical supervision) and to transfer sustainable energy technologies from universities, institutes, companies, especially from EU countries in order to find appropriate, sustainable and economically feasible measures to decrease energy consumption, to increase energy efficiency (in various sectors) and to implement renewable energy sources.

Together with CEESEN, LEASP stands for lasting impact, paving the way for a more resilient and sustainable energy landscape in the Podravje region and beyond.

Find out more about LEASP: 

Webpage: https://www.lea-ptuj.si/en/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lea.podravje

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leaspodnjepodravje/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/local-energy-agency-spodnje-podravje/about/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LeaSP18

 


CEESEN’s General Assembly 2024: Setting the course for sustainable energy in Central and Eastern Europe

On the 20th of March, 2024, the Central and Eastern European Sustainable Energy Network (CEESEN) held its annual meeting, a central gathering that brought together the partner members from across the region in a hybrid setup: physically in Zagreb and online. 

All founders and partners of the CEESEN network attended the meeting: the Estonian University of Life Sciences (with CEESEN’s President Elis Vollmer), the University of Tartu, ENVIROS, Local Energy Agency Spodnje Podravje, ConPlusUltra, Vidzeme Planning Region, WWF-HU, Tartu Regional Energy Agency, Society for Sustainable Development Design (DOOR), Mazovia Energy Cluster, Alba Local Energy Agency, and Medjimurje Energy Agency.

A blend of reflection and vision

The meeting was conducted by CEESEN’s President Elis Vollmer, who presented what the network has achieved in the last year and what it hopes to do this year as well as in the future. The meeting kicked off with a comprehensive summary of the activities and milestones achieved in 2023, coupled with a transparent financial overview. The forward-looking segment of the agenda laid out a roadmap for 2024, emphasizing collaboration, and adaptability.

A standout discussion on 'CEESEN 2.0' explored the organization’s evolving value proposition. The discussion focused on the network's value offer and opportunities to upgrade it to stay responsive to stakeholder’s needs and dynamically adapt to the changing landscape of sustainable energy.

In conclusion, the participants of the meeting approved the necessary documentation that reflected on the network's activity and financial numbers from the last year. They also offered valuable insights into the plans for 2024. These ideas were gathered and have been included in the network's activity plan, where they will now be implemented one by one.


Meet the University of Tartu - partner of the CEESEN-BENDER project

Meet the University of Tartu - partner of the CEESEN-BENDER project

The University of Tartu is Estonia's leading institution for education and research, and it's recognized globally for its contributions. Known for its broad expertise in managing European projects and researching energy transitions, the university combines its scholarly achievements with a practical approach towards sustainable development. This approach reflects a commitment to making a meaningful impact on the green transition in the CEE region through collaboration and knowledge exchange with CEESEN.

University of Tartu (UTARTU) is Estonia’s leading center of research, teaching, and training and the oldest university in the region. UTARTU is a multidisciplinary university and it belongs to the top 1% of the world’s best universities (out of 20,000). The University of Tartu belongs to the top 1% of the world’s best universities by ranking 358th in the QS World University Rankings 2022 and within the 201–250 range in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2022.

Experts from the University of Tartu have contributed to several CEESEN projects while leading the CEESEU-DIGIT project and participating as expert in CEESEN-BENDER project.

Developing solutions for tackling energy poverty and renovating Soviet-era buildings

From September 2023 to 2026, the University of Tartu is one of the experts in the EU-funded CEESEN-BENDER project that empowers and supports 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.

In this project, Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies at the University of Tartu will be responsible for coordinating the work package that aims to tackle the barriers hindering buildings-related interventions in vulnerable districts. To do that, partner countries will analyse the building renovation barriers in the regulatory framework as well as barriers of technical and economic aspects in 5 pilot countries as well as in CEE in general. In addition, a survey will be among 400 respondents from Tartu, both from renovated as well as not yet renovated buildings, providing insight regarding energy consumption, energy needs, and behaviours of energy-poor homeowners. 

Also, the University of Tartu will be responsible for designing and testing a digital tool to prioritise buildings for renovations. The tool will use available digital socioeconomic data to generate rankings of buildings that are the least energy-efficient and have occupants most likely to suffer from high levels of energy poverty. Within the project, the digital tool prototype will be created and run using data collected by partners to generate scores for 150 selected buildings across 5 targeted countries. In Estonia, the test will be conducted based on the Annelinn and Karlova areas in Tartu.

Read more about CEESEN-BENDER project >>

In CEESEN-BENDER, the University of Tartu is represented by:

  • Hector Charles Pagan, project manager and head of the international projects team at the Centre for Applied Social Sciences
  • Helena Maripuu, project coordinator
  • Elis Vollmer, expert
  • Mariia Chebotareva, analyst
  • Riin Teugijas, financial manager

University of Tartu has also participated in other CEESEN-related projects (PANEL2050, CEESEU etc) and is currently leading CEESEU-DIGIT project.

Leading a change in green transition

University’s team involved in CEESEN projects has large experience in European project management and conducting research in the energy transition field, with a specific focus on SSH aspects of energy transitions. University of Tartu and, in particular, the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies and the Institute of Social Sciences that are involved in CEESEN projects, have worked closely with Estonian ministries (the Ministry of Communications and Economic Affairs, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Social Affairs, Environmental Agency, etc.), local authorities and city governments, routinely providing evidence and input for decision-making, initiating creation of new policies and strategies in the field of smart city development and supporting vulnerable groups and civic activity.

In addition, the university maintains close connections with Estonian businesses and the energy industry, unions and associations active in the energy field, local municipalities, as well as with environmental movements and start-ups focusing on energy-transition solutions.

The guidebook “Advocating for the Sustainable Energy in Central and Eastern Europe” published in 2019 has gained good feedback among local and international target groups: NGO activists, researchers, specialists in public institutions, and EU public bodies. The University of Tartu works in close collaboration with the City of Tartu in various fields and supports the City’s development into a healthy and smart city by providing input for research-based decision-making and we bring those experiences to our CEESEN projects’ activities.

Find out more about the University of Tartu:

Webpage: www.ut.ee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tartuuniversity

Twitter: https://twitter.com/unitartu?s=20

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/school/university-of-tartu/


How renovating Soviet-era multiapartment buildings in CEE is essential for tackling energy poverty?

How renovating Soviet-era multiapartment buildings in CEE is essential for tackling energy poverty?

Soviet-era multi-apartment buildings, as historical relics, also subtly reveal a challenge of energy poverty beneath their storied exteriors. While these buildings served as a solution to housing shortages during the Soviet era, they now present significant challenges, particularly in terms of energy efficiency and safety. Read more about the potential of renovating these buildings as a means to overcome energy poverty, and find out what role the international CEESEN-BENDER project plays in addressing these problems.

EU households considered to be energy poor (spending more than twice the national median share on energy) typically live in dwellings that are likely to be non-refurbished, and which have poor insulation and low energy efficiency. This is particularly relevant for CEE countries, which have a large proportion of housing stock composed of Soviet-era multi-apartment buildings, constructed from the 1960s to the 1980s. Often called ‘tin cans’ because they are cold in the winter and hot in the summer, these buildings were designed when energy was inexpensive, then poorly constructed using substandard materials and now resulting in very poor energy performance. 

As a result, they are inefficient and obsolete, with outdated electrical and other systems (e.g., uninsulated aluminum electrical wiring). As many of these buildings were built to last only for 50 years, they have exceeded or are nearing the end of their service life unless major renovations are made. These buildings together with their residents are also often stigmatized as 1. In some countries, notably the Baltic States, these multi-apartment buildings are often inhabited by Russians, regarded by native populations as interlopers who were resettled during Soviet times, and thus it is not unusual for entire districts of these buildings to be regarded as tainted.

Addressing energy poverty: more than just an energy issue

While these multi-apartment buildings in CEE served as a solution to housing shortages during the Soviet era, they now present significant challenges, particularly in terms of energy poverty

Energy poverty should be first and foremost viewed as a multidimensional problem caused by low energy efficiency, high energy costs, and low income. But the effect energy poverty has on a society surpasses this triad of inputs. Energy poverty is caused by a host of underlying social, economic and infrastructure factors. Energy poverty lowers people’s quality of life, negatively affects their general state of health and wellbeing, leads to debt and social exclusion, and often creates a surge in household energy costs as well as carbon emissions. According to the recent Eurostat data on poverty and social exclusion from 2021, 21,7% or 95,4 million EU citizens were at risk of poverty and social exclusion, higher compared to 2019’s 92,4 million.

Poor insulation, indoor moisture and mold, drafts, rotten window frames, leaky roofs, and low indoor temperatures all contribute to low life quality in energy-poor households, factors that are linked to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Besides wintertime energy poverty, uninsulated buildings in combination with climate change have resulted in increases in ambient night-time temperatures and frequency during prolonged heat waves, posing a rising threat to health and life in the summertime. Even when not causing morbidity or mortality events, overheating and the inability to keep homes cool during summer results in serious discomfort and stress for residents.

Buildings are responsible for 40% of Europe’s total energy consumption, and 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 the energy efficiency first principle, building renovation must be prioritized when discussing the overall solution to energy poverty. In so doing, the least efficient building stock should be targeted first and split-incentive dilemmas and market failures should be addressed. Furthermore, addressing energy poverty, like energy transition in general, should be socially just and inclusive.

Although prevalent throughout Europe, energy poverty is a particularly pressing problem within Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). According to the EPAH the CEE lags behind western Europe in many of the most important energy poverty indicators. 

Challenges and strategies for renovating Soviet-era housing for energy efficiency

Improving the energy efficiency of these buildings poses many technical and socio-economic challenges. Renovation is often more complicated (and expensive) than building new structures, especially if the goal is to bring it up to modern standards (including smart metering, electrical grounding and panels, water pipes and plumbing, etc.). In some cases, shifts cannot easily be made from district heating to individual, self-administrated natural gas heating because pipes have been cut/removed. The physical conditions of these buildings, if this has been improved at all over the years, has typically been done via piecemeal upgrades, which often do not address the larger underlying problems and can further complicate subsequent improvements (for example, using plasterboards without proper moisture barriers may lead to worsened indoor climate and potential health hazards due to excess moisture). 

Due to how they were constructed, Soviet-era buildings pose additional challenges that are common throughout the CEE. For example, roofs are often not well-adapted for PV installation because they cannot support the weight of the panels, there is not enough space on the roof, and/or they are blocked from sunlight. Additional challenges are high costs of investments in PV, unresolved property issues, and often poor legislation regarding the establishment of energy communities. To foster widespread improvement, practitioners need exposure to real world examples of how to effectively deal with these various technical challenges.

The high cost of such renovations often requires external financing and leads to high levels of resistance amongst both owners and residents. This is especially true for homeowner associations, which do not wish to take commercial (or any other) loans. Instead, they often create joint "repair funds" from which investments are made only after enough cash has accumulated in the fund – further contributing to the execution of partial instead of complex (deep) renovations. 

Furthermore, most Soviet-era housing complexes are densely populated, which limits the ability to make major changes such as developing buildings and infrastructure. This density exacerbates the disruptions and inconvenience caused by retrofitting, such as façade insulation, window replacement, or improvements in ventilation and heating systems, which residents must endure for a year or more. Thus, residents need active education and training, both to convince them of the benefits of such improvements as well as to ensure the changes in behaviours and lifestyles needed to address energy poverty.

Also - although CEE countries have developed various support services and instruments (including counselling, loans and subsidies) to address EP and support building renovations (see list in section 1.6), they often are not coordinated or carried out strategically. For example, most CEE municipalities do not prioritize renovation projects based upon their potential for maximising CO2 and EP reduction. Instead, finite financing is often distributed on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, prioritizing who is fastest in applying. This can lead to disparities in who receives such support (i.e., higher-income owners paying for professional consultation will have an advantage). A major reason for this is that no methods exist for identifying energy poor households or for ranking buildings in greatest need for renovation.

CEESEN-BENDER project: collective endeavor to combat energy poverty

International team behind the CEESEN-BENDER project is dedicated to mitigating energy poverty in the Central and Eastern European region. The main goal of the project is 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 is funded by the LIFE+ Clean Energy Transition programme (2021-2027) under GA no 101120994. 

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.

Read more about CEESEN-BENDER project >>

CEESEN-BENDER will address the above issues within 5 regions in 5 CEE countries by targeting Soviet-era multiapartment buildings with several different types of ownership and tenure types common to the region (municipal-owned rental housing, privately owned large housing stock, cooperative owner-occupied, mixed regimes). 

Within the five targeted regions, there are approximately 2200 Soviet-era buildings, comprising well over 100.000 apartments. Assuming 20% are energy poor would yield at least 20.000 energy poverty households. The vast majority (~90%) of these buildings/apartments have not been significantly upgraded nor have had roadmaps or other pre-planning documents prepared (1900 buildings/95.000 apartments). These use approximately 200-250 kWh/m2 of thermal energy for heating and on average 4746 kwh/per household for electricity, so a rough estimate is that these buildings currently consume 4.51 GWh/year while renewable energy production is close to 0. Due to the low energy efficiency and age of the buildings, almost 80.69% of the total energy delivered to the household sector is consumed for heating, cooling, and preparation of hot water.

For the approximately 30 buildings (~1500 households) from these regions for which the CEESEN-BENDER project will provide in-depth support, target buildings that have not received substantial improvements, so investments are close to 0, and where none have roadmaps completed. 




Meet DOOR - the leading partner of CEESEN-BENDER project

The Central and Eastern European Sustainable Energy Network (CEESEN) has embarked on a groundbreaking initiative in partnership with DOOR, a prominent Croatian organization focused on sustainability and renewable energy. The CEESEN-BENDER and CEESEU-DIGIT projects have the potential to significantly impact the green transition in the CEE region, and DOOR's role as a leading partner is crucial to its success.

DOOR - a champion of sustainability

DOOR (Društvo za oblikovanje održivog razvoja), or the Society for Sustainable Development Design, has a long-standing reputation as a champion of sustainability and renewable energy solutions in Croatia and the wider Central and Eastern European region. Their expertise and commitment to creating a more sustainable future have made them a natural choice for spearheading the CEESEN-BENDER project and participating as a partner in CEESEU-DIGIT project.

Leading a team of international experts for tackling energy poverty

From September 2023 to 2026, DOOR is leading partner of experts from Central and Eastern Europe 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.

DOOR will make sure, that CEESEN-BENDER project will create a support system for homeowners, municipalities, and other large owners of multi-apartment buildings (MABs) in its targeted regions to speed up the renovation process. As a leading partner of the project, it will guide the team who will develop specific tools to help municipalities and large housing stock owners effectively identify energy poor households and implement schemes to reduce energy poverty. 

As a result, for the 5 pilot areas, the project experts will create at least 30 building-level roadmaps that specify the technical details for renovations, targeting at least 1.500 apartments, and form a network of at least 30 energy professionals trained in consulting the target groups. CEESEN-BENDER team will train at least 3.500 homeowners, landlords and building managers on legal, financial, technical and other aspects of energy renovations, and will advocate for changes of regulatory requirements and policies to lower the costs and time needed for the preparatory phase of projects.

Read more about CEESEN-BENDER project >>

As project coordinator in CEESEN-BENDER, DOOR will be responsible for the overall coordination and monitoring of project progress of all aspects of the work. The focus will be on timely delivery and evaluation of the outcomes based on the performance indicators – with all partners addressing their tasks diligently and pooling efforts to make the project a success. In addition, DOOR will be responsible for tasks in several work packages of the project while sharing their previous experiences in the field of energy poverty.

In CEESEN-BENDER, DOOR is represented by:

  • Miljenka Kuhar, executive director of DOOR and project manager
  • Matija Eppert, project coordinator
  • Tomislav Cik, project manager
  • Stella Turnšek, financial manager

In fact, DOOR has also participated in other CEESEN-related projects such as CEESEU-DIGIT, while contributing to the project as a project partner.

Read more about CEESEU-DIGIT project >>

DOOR's path to empowering communities with sustainable energy

DOOR was founded in 2003 as an NGO. Its mission is the promotion of sustainable development principles in all segments of society, at the local, regional and national level, primarily in the field of energy. DOOR's aim is accessible, affordable, sustainable, economically and positively environmentally acceptable energy that affects society in which not a single person or a single region is neglected. In achieving its goals, DOOR works to preserve the environment, achieve social justice, democracy, inclusion, economic sustainability and alleviating energy poverty.

DOOR continuously operates in the field of energy with a special focus on:

  • Energy and the environment,
  • Energy and society

Through its activities, DOOR promotes an inclusive energy transition and climate justice through the following long-term objectives:

  • Development of a low-carbon society
  • Promotion of energy efficiency
  • Promotion of sustainable use of renewable energy sources
  • Democratization of the use of renewable energy sources
  • Suppression of energy poverty
  • Monitoring the implementation of measures and the effect of the energy poverty program
  • Shaping and advocacy of evidence-based public policies
  • Promotion of topics in the field of inclusive energy transition and climate justice in public and media space
  • Adaptation to climate change
  • Education of the general public on topics in the field of activity

In the coming years, DOOR will operate in the following strategic areas:

  1. Energy poverty: energy efficiency
  2. Renewable energy sources: energy communities and renewable energy communities and empowering citizens in the electricity market
  3. Climate changes: adaptation to climate change

The organization has successfully implemented more than 100 projects with goals ranging from climate change mitigation, encouraging citizens’ participation in sustainable energy policy-making, improving education about renewable energy sources, and alleviating energy poverty. Within the projects more than a hundred workshops, round tables, training, conferences and other public events were organized, attended by several thousand participants, a dozen manuals were published,  number of study trips organized and continuous cooperation with numerous organizations from Croatia and abroad was established. 

Currently, DOOR has 16 employees, 68 members and depending on current activities and requirements at times over 10 active volunteers. 

Find out more about DOOR >>


What is energy poverty and how to fight against it?

What is energy poverty and how to fight against it?

Energy Poverty should be first and foremost viewed as a multidimensional problem caused by low energy efficiency, high energy costs, and low income. But the effect energy poverty has on a society surpasses this triad of inputs. Let's explore the concept of energy poverty, why it's a pressing issue and how the CEESEN-BENDER project is going to tackle it.

Energy poverty is caused by a host of underlying social, economic and infrastructure factors. It lowers people’s quality of life, negatively affects their general state of health and wellbeing, leads to debt and social exclusion, and often creates a surge in household energy costs as well as carbon emissions. 

According to the recent Eurostat data on poverty and social exclusion from 2021, 21,7% or 95,4 million EU citizens were at risk of poverty and social exclusion, higher compared to 2019’s 92,4 million.

Why is it important to tackle energy poverty?

Addressing energy poverty is not only a matter of humanitarian concern but also a crucial step towards achieving sustainable development. 

Poor insulation, indoor moisture and mold, drafts, rotten window frames, leaky roofs, and low indoor temperatures all contribute to low life quality in energy-poor households, factors that are linked to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Besides wintertime energy poverty, uninsulated buildings in combination with climate change have resulted in increases in ambient night-time temperatures and frequency during prolonged heat waves, posing a rising threat to health and life in the summertime. Even when not causing morbidity or mortality events, overheating and the inability to keep homes cool during summer results in serious discomfort and stress for residents.

Buildings are responsible for 40% of Europe’s total energy consumption, and 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 the energy efficiency first principle, building renovation must be prioritized when discussing the overall solution to energy poverty. In so doing, the least efficient building stock should be targeted first and split- incentive dilemmas and market failures should be addressed. Furthermore, addressing energy poverty, like energy transition in general, should be socially just and inclusive.

CEESEN-BENDER project: collective endeavor to combat energy poverty

International team behind the CEESEN-BENDER project is dedicated to mitigating energy poverty in the Central and Eastern European region. The main goal of the project is 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 is funded by the LIFE+ Clean Energy Transition programme (2021-2027) under GA no 101120994. 

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.

Read more about CEESEN-BENDER project >>

 

 

(Photo: Image by pvproductions on Freepik)