An overview conducted by the National Audit Office in 2021 already revealed that in order to reach the targets set by the Estonian government at the time, which were far less stringent than those now being planned by the EU, severalfold more residential buildings a year would need to be renovated than have been thus far. The institution called achieving these goals complicated.
Two years ago, the National Audit Office analyzed whether Estonia's own targets for building renovations were achievable and how much in state and EU support was planned for this.
The targets set at the time were significantly more lenient than what the EU is now planning and which also received European Parliament approval this week.
The latest EU plans would require residential buildings reach a minimum energy efficiency class of E by 2030 and D by 2033.
According to Estonia's own plan, the Long-term Strategy for Building Renovation (Hoonete rekonstrueerimise pikaajaline strateegia, REKS), the target is the full renovation of 14,000 apartment buildings built prior to 2000 and with a total area of 18 million square meters by the year 2050. REKS was approved by the government in 2020.
Under another, the Energy Sector Development Plan 2030 (Energiamajanduse arengukava aastani 2030, ENMAK), 50 percent of apartment buildings in the country should be fully reconstructed, i.e. to at least the C class level, by the year 2030.
The National Audit Office noted in its 2021 analysis that in order to achieve these energy efficiency improvement targets, severalfold more apartment buildings a year would need to be completely overhauled in the years to come.
Estonia has actually been falling behind on its goals for longer than that. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications has noted that the reconstruction of apartment buildings has not been possible in planned volumes primarily because state support has been insufficient and banks have not been willing to finance reconstruction work on apartment buildings located in areas outside of bigger cities, whose value on the real estate market is low.
With the help of EU structural funds, from 2014-2020, the Estonian state supported the renovation of apartment buildings with a total of €148 million.
That sum was a pittance compared with what's currently being planned. The Ministry of Economic Affairs told ERR last year that the EU's proposed major renovation work would end up running the Estonian state several billion euros. Part of this would go toward paying renovation support, while another part would be spent on the reconstruction of state-owned buildings. The ministry considered the plan unrealistic.
Implementing Estonia's own plans would have required finding an additional €273 million for the payment of subsidies from 2021-2025, and another €381 million over the next five years after that.
The National Audit Office said about Estonia's own plans already that achieving these targets would be difficult.
"The comprehensive renovation of apartment buildings has indeed progressed over the past ten years, and parties are seeking new solutions for this, but achieving the targets set by the REKS will be difficult, because according to calculations, in order to achieve the targets set for 2050 by the REKS, the rate of renovations would have to be increased from the current pace of an average of 100 apartment buildings to approximately 466 apartment buildings a year," the analysis stated.
According to the strategy, an additional goal is to fully renovate some 100,000 detached houses built before 2000 by the year 2050. The analysis noted, however, that in order to meet this target, an estimated 964 detached houses would have to be renovated each year between 2021-2030, and even more in the years beyond.
The analysis also noted that the achievement of these goals is being hindered by a lack of reliable data regarding what shape houses are in and how many buildings there are that would require a complete reno. This has also led to the setting of unrealistic goals.
Editor: Aili Vahtla