News Article
November 27, 2017

Belgrade Workshop Accelerates Building Efficiency Improvements Across Central-Eastern Europe

HRH Crown Prince Aleksandar II Karađorđević spoke about energy efficiency at the workshop in Belgrade. Photo by Anda Ghiran/Johnson Controls 

ABELGRADE, SERBIA – On September 28 and 29, the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), the Building Efficiency Accelerator and UN Environment organized a Central-Eastern European regional building efficiency workshop with over 90 participants to facilitate knowledge exchange between cities in the region, including technical assistance, financing models, policies and programs.  

Participants included representatives from cities, national governments, NGOs and businesses. Belgrade is one of the BEA’s two deep-dive cities in the region, with Eskisehir in Turkey, and four network cities, including Riga (Latvia), Warsaw (Poland), Bucharest and Alba-Iulia (Romania).

The workshop began with the Serbian government and local authorities from Belgrade discussing their commitment to accelerating building renovations in public, commercial and residential buildings. One of their pilot projects is a school in Belgrade, built in 1961 with coal boilers installed in 1967. The school has poor indoor air quality and will be renovated to modern comfort, health and efficiency standards.  Belgrade is also working on a variety of measures to guide citizens in the cost-effective renovation of their homes and establishing an energy efficiency fund to finance the renovations.

The workshop keynote speaker, HRH Crown Prince Aleksandar II Karađorđević, spoke about energy efficiency as the “fifth fuel” and encouraged city governments to use more of this “resource” in the future.

The first panel focused on renovating the aging building stock. Audience members heard from Jan Olbrycht, member of the European Parliament and president of the Urban Intergroup at the European Parliament, on the importance of energy efficiency for city transformation and the financial opportunities that Serbia has as a future member of the European Union. Dušan Ignjatović, from the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade, provided details on Serbia’s existing building stock, while Maarten de Groote, from Buildings Performance Institute Europe, explained the city’s role in creating ambitious national renovation plans and strategies. Romanas Savickas, from the Copenhagen Centre on Energy Efficiency, and Adam Jedrzejczak, from Danfoss, presented on integrated approaches to improving building efficiency and district energy systems.

The second panel brought together city representatives from Astrakhan (Russia), Riga (Latvia), Eskisehir (Turkey), Yerevan (Armenia) and Baku (Azerbaijan), discussing goals, challenges and approaches for addressing energy efficiency at the local level. By demonstrating their commitment to developing energy efficiency plans – policies, funds and programs – these cities are becoming leaders in building efficiency, serving as examples to the Central-Eastern European region and the world.

At the end of the first day, organizers engaged the audience in an interactive panel on financing energy efficient renovation, during which Quitterie de Rivoyre of The Investor Confidence Project (ICP), Pablo de Augustin of Tecnalia, Clay Nesler of Johnson Controls, Marko Markov of Econoler, and Dragan Obrenović of the International Finance Corporation responded to a variety of questions from the audience and moderator. When asked what the most important thing is that local authorities can do when approaching investors, speakers gave pragmatic advice, including using the ESCO financing model, providing advice to citizens, selling energy efficiency as part of projects that improve daily life, finding the right investor for the right project, helping banks understand the local market, and especially “thinking big” about the opportunities for improvement. Cities were advised to prepare comprehensive project proposals for investors and to work with private sector and institutional partners to demonstrate energy efficiency projects are low risk, high return opportunities.

The second day was dedicated to financing local energy efficiency, including Belgrade’s energy efficiency fund. Participants heard about Bulgaria’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Sources Fund, the Revolving Fund of the Riga, and Yerevan’s Renewable Resources and Energy Efficiency Fund, providing examples to Belgrade and other cities working on similar mechanisms. The Energy Efficiency and Renewable Sources Fund has financed over 200 renovation projects, mainly for municipal authorities with funding from the Global Environment Facility, Austrian Government, Eurobank EFG, Bulgarian government and private sector donors.

At the end of the workshop, participants agreed that the event was successful in sharing best practices in local government policies, practices and programs across the Central-Eastern European region and will help accelerate the rate of building efficiency improvements globally.

We would like to thank to the organizers and the local team for their support in organizing this workshop: Jelena Zivkovic, Technical Advisor to City of Belgrade, UN Environment; Sonja Malicevic, Project Development and Implementation, Vienna Programme Office, UN Environment; Michelle Bosquet and Curt Garrigan, UNEP; Aleksandra Šiljić Tomić, UNEP; Eric Mackres and Shannon Hilsey, World Resources Institute.

High-level participants included Borko Milosavljević, Assistant to Mayor of Belgrade; Goran Trivan, Minister of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Serbia; Stevica Dedjanski, State Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Mining of Serbia; Ivana Vilotijević, Secretary of Environment, City of Belgrade; Nataša Putnik, Secretary of Energy, City of Belgrade; Miodrag Grujić, Secretariat for Environmental protection, City of Belgrade; Lily Riahi, Energy, Climate, and Technology Branch, Economy Division UN Environment and Clay Nesler, Building Efficiency Accelerator co-convenor, VP Global Sustainability & Industry Initiatives, Johnson Controls.

About the Building Efficiency Accelerator:

WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities’ Building Efficiency Initiative leads the Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) partnership in support of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) initiative. The BEA is a public-private collaboration that turns global expertise into action to accelerate local government implementation of building efficiency policies and programs.

Anda Ghiran is Global Energy and Sustainability Policy Manager at Johnson Controls and Regional Lead for Central-Eastern Europe for the Building Efficiency Accelerator.

Clay Nesler is Vice President, Global Sustainability and Industry Initiatives at Johnson Controls – the industry co-convener of the Building Efficiency Accelerator​.

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