Renovation Strategies for Multi-Residential Buildings from the Record Years in Sweden—Profit-Driven or Socioeconomically Responsible?
Journal article, 2019
An important part of the multi-family housing stock in Sweden was built during the record years 1961–1975 and is in need of extensive renovation to be modernized. The stock is also at the center of political discussion of how to sustain ‘good housing for all’, especially in the rental sector. These renovation needs coincide with present energy targets and provides an opportunity to combine renovation with energy efficiency measures. Common for many of these buildings are that neglected maintenance has led to technical shortcomings, such as high energy use and low thermal comfort due to bad insulation, unsatisfactory air tightness and leaky windows, inefficient heating systems and insufficient ventilation, and moisture damage due to leaking building envelope and leaking pipes. However, the people living in these buildings are not willing to or cannot afford to pay the higher rents that extensive renovations would entail. Earlier research has highlighted the broader societal problem of energy renovations, but also that of housing companies’ priority of measures with short payback times, and those that give the possibility to raise rents. However, recent observations indicated a tendency towards more holistic approaches to housing renovation, and this study was initiated to investigate how public and private housing companies deal with renovation levels, rent increases and related social problems. The main conclusions are that sustainability and social responsibility are moving up on agendas in the public sector, but also, apparently, in the renovations strategies among the private companies. What is also seen is a trend moving from extensive total renovations to more tenant-adapted and step-by-step renovations. Renovation options which do not entail such large rent increases are increasingly being seen. Implications are that housing owners favor gentle renovation with reasonable rent increases of 10%–20%, which at the same time, may be a drawback for reaching energy efficiency targets.