Maintenance, renovation and energy efficiency in the Swedish multi-family housing market
Residential buildings accounted for almost a quarter of the total energy use in Europe in 2013. Considering its significant share, energy efficiency in the residential sector has been a crucial part of the European Union plan in achieving the energy and climate objectives of 2050. In this sector, having the low rate of new construction in mind, the existing building stock represents the biggest potential for energy savings. This situation is no different in Sweden with the housing stock taking up to 23% of the total energy use. Although, the sustainable development in the country has driven its territorial carbon emissions beyond the average EU performance level (Minx, Scott, Peters, & Barrett, 2008), the need for energy efficiency in the housing sector is imminent.
The construction boom during 60s and 70s in Sweden resulted in the rise of more than a million housing unit around the country. Today, a large share of this stock is in urgent need for extensive maintenance and renovation measures which presents a unique opportunity for implementation of energy efficiency measures at marginal costs.
In Sweden, this opportunity however is not well communicated. Attempts have been made in various renovation projects yet energy renovation methods are to be perceived cost effective. There are systematic and fundamental problems on the way of energy renovation which hinder its progress, i.e., the characteristics of the Swedish housing market; regulations; the low energy price; socio-economic issues and lack of strategic planning in property management.
Renovation issues are in principle sustainability problems. Financial, ecological and social challenges are what make planning for renovation complicated and cost inefficient. These problems bear specific characteristics which have marked the features, differences and challenges in the development of the Swedish housing market. Today, having around 600 000 apartments in need of extensive maintenance and renovation measures, the main problem remains to be the difficulty in systematic implementation of maintenance and renovation measures with regard to technical and socio-economic difficulties.
In this study, to deal with this issue, a method has been proposed that can be used to budget and plan maintenance with regard to renovation and energy efficiency time frames. The application of this method for the current situation, besides strategic maintenance planning, is the opportunity it offers for prioritizing maintenance and renovation measures in older properties under budget restrictions. This method is further used to study the effects of different maintenance strategies on both the economy of the housing companies and the economic life of the respective properties.
Results from this study illustrate the benefits of a proper maintenance strategy and indicate the importance of modernization (renovation) and energy efficiency in the extent of properties’ economic life. This study, furthermore, points at existing potentials for improvements in the financial performance of existing maintenance strategies with regard to renovation and energy efficiency.