Incentives for energy efficiency measures in post-war multi-family dwellings

Abstract: Energy efficiency is an important question to society as well as to individuals and firms. Improving energy efficiency in the building sector is considered an important means to climate mitigation. For real estate owners energy is also a central expenditure item and reducing energy consumption may directly reduce operation costs while at the same time serve as insurance against future energy price increases. Since new buildings only add a few percent annually to the building stock, the potential to reduce total energy consumption primarily lies within the existing building stock. The building stock is ageing and the post-war part of the stock that is in need of renovation is growing. This has been suggested as a window of opportunity to improve energy efficiency, but so far the results have been few. Several factors have been put forward to explain the so called energy efficiency gap – the difference between actual and optimal energy efficiency – one of which is split incentives. What adds to complexity in this case is that distinct differences have been observed in the level of ambition between the real estate companies that have renovated so far. Some companies have undertaken extensive renovation and energy efficiency measures, whereas other companies have done little more than urgent maintenance measures. It seems that real estate owners in general don´t have strong economic incentives to improve energy efficiency in connection to renovation – but what can then explain the differences between strategies? This licentiate thesis examines the incentives among real estate owners to improve energy efficiency, particularly in post-war, multi-family buildings in need of renovation. The purpose is to add knowledge about decisions concerning measures that improve energy efficiency - in terms of incentives, barriers and different motives for real estate owners’ strategies and actions. Results show that real estate owners lack strong economic incentives to invest in energy efficiency in multi-family buildings and the level of investment is dependent on the different motivations, grouped in three levels of ambition, that real estate companies have. One important conclusion is that the heterogeneity between companies that was exposed in the interviews and survey implies that they will not respond similarly to policy stimuli. The heterogeneity should thus be considered when designing policy measures so that public and company resources can be allocated as efficiently as possible, as there are many challenges facing owners of post-war residential buildings. Another conclusion is that from an economic point of view it is important to take the interaction between different measures into account, e.g. between physical measures and measures focusing on changing household behavior.