Wow, what a great morning! The sun has risen and Mr Vinters* steps out of his warm bed. Mr Vinters slowly slips in his slippers and walks towards the huge crystal clear window and looks across the backyard. He sees his neighbour’s house where finally the refurbishment works are finished and he suddenly remembers how terrible the conditions were in his apartment 28 years ago. Now, Mr Vinters can enjoy his warm apartment, healthy conditions with the fresh air mixed with the smell of the morning coffee. Mr Vinters sees his neighbour across the backyard and waves him a hand. On his way to the market he listens on his phone to the morning news where the journalist mentions that the living standards in Latvia have finally reached the highest level across Europe. And Mr Vinters thinks: what a great country to live in!
These dreams of the future were shared on the 10th of November 2017 during a SHAPE ENERGY workshop in Riga. Key stakeholders in the city are striving to make these dreams come through and therefore, they gathered to discuss challenges and solutions for the refurbishment of 6,000 multi-apartment buildings in Riga by 2030.
Riga is the capital of Latvia, where 32% of population is creating approximately 50% of the country’s GDP. The city has the lowest heat tariff in the Baltic states (44,39 €/MWh without VAT) and this is the main cause of the building renovation stagnation in Riga, the proportion of renovated buildings in Riga being one of the lowest in Latvia. Residents do not feel the need to decrease their energy bills by doing building renovation. This lack of awareness concerning energy efficiency issues over the last 20 years lead to an unengaged society.
In Riga, most of the apartments were privatised after the communist era, but in many cases this process was not completely finalised, resulting in apartments being privately owned, but common areas (entrance hall, staircases) being State owned. This makes the decision-making process concerning refurbishment very difficult.
Other obstacles are high construction costs due to the lack of educated technicians, engineers, architects, communication specialists and work force as well as seasonality. Furthermore, most of these buildings are occupied by low income households.
There is a lack of financial instruments available. At the national level, the regulation on the ESCOs accepted in spring 2017 will slowly encourage new ESCOs to step in the market.