Local consultations in Bulgaria and Romania: drafting municipalities’ renovation strategies

As Member States are expected to deliver their long-term renovation strategy by March next year, public consultation is now high on the agenda. National strategies can only be successful with the involvement of regional and local authorities, since they will be required to design and implement detailed action plans to deliver National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs). National renovation strategies should develop over time, taking account of new strategies at local and regional level, and therefore be reviewed and updated every three years.

by Margaux Barrett, BPIE

Published: 24 October 2019

As part of the EUKI project Our Buildings, several stakeholder’s consultations were held throughout July 2019 in cities in Romania and Bulgaria, gathering actors at municipal level from both the public and private sectors. In addition to building capacity at local level, these consultations aim to determine the various barriers and needs to the development and implementation of the strategies in Romania and Bulgaria. In this framework, BPIE has already published a guidance for public officers early 2019 as well as a template for developing national long term renovation strategies.

Stakeholder consultation in Sibiu, 4th July 2019. Photo: Our Buildings / BPIE

In Romania, the stakeholder consultations took place in six cities between June and July: Bacau, Sibiu, Satu Mare, Bistrita, Mizil, Targoviste.

Several common issues were identified in all consultations, such as poorly managed financial funds, lack of quality control during all phases of construction works, and finalised works that are not monitored because of lack of experience, time and trained staff, lack of workforce – qualified or unqualified and absence of continuous learning.

When it comes to renovation processes, price tends to be prioritised over quality: opting for cheapest options rather than the optimum price corresponding with the quality of the materials and solutions, resulting in non-lasing, poor quality materials.

Another issue that local authorities are facing is the lack of time to review national legislation and guidelines for applying to structural funds. Awareness on energy efficiency measures should be brought up: there is a lack of consideration for energy consumption measures during buildings’ design stage; and a lack of education on energy efficiency measures for buildings. Occupants do not use new installed systems aiming at reducing energy consumption.

The need to develop public/private partnerships for public buildings renovation, while avoiding bureaucracy to attract companies was also pointed out. Finally, tender documents need to highlight energy performance indicators.

Stakeholder consultation in Mizil, 16th July 2019. Photo: Our Buildings / BPIE

In Bulgaria, consultations took place in five municipalities: Etropole, Berkovitsa, Kula, Smyadovo, and Lyaskovets between May and June 2019.

For each consultation, an introduction on the European and Bulgarian policies in the field of energy efficiency and the long-term aims was made, as well as on the multiple benefits of energy efficiency measures in local communities. Some good and bad practices were presented as well as the findings from the national multifamily renovation program. Building renovation for multifamily buildings in Bulgaria was financed with 100% grant for reaching the minimum energy performance standards, resulting in shallow renovation, blocking effect, compromised performance, low comfort and air quality. Municipal experts who are involved with implementation of energy efficiency measures and policies presented the actual situation in their tows, such as lack of financing for new projects combined with demographical struggles.

One of the key takeaways from these consultations is that it is essential to have an updated database on the energy consumption of municipal buildings in order to develop successful renovation strategies. Some consultations were followed by field visits of public buildings, allowing to update the available data and information regarding their energy performance. Participants, from citizens to local experts, showed great interest in these consultations which yielded insightful discussions with a long-term vision.

What are the next steps?

These consultations lay the ground for the following steps of the project and will help to develop and implement efficient renovation strategies and climate plans.

The next steps will allow for discussions with stakeholders to finalise the drafts of the long-term renovation strategies and to address several issues: which building should be prioritised and what are the funding sources? How to define the step-by-step process to be applied for their renovation?

Once the drafts are updated, the strategies will be ready for approval by the municipal councils. Finally, public presentations will be organised to introduce the final versions in the respective municipalities.

Local consultations in Smyadovo, Lyascovets and Kula took place in June 2019. Photos: Our Buildings / BPIE