Building energy efficiency into Bulgaria’s apartment blocks

Energy efficiency is a key focus for the Bulgarian government. Since 2016 it has been implementing a programme to update large parts of its housing stock to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. A €150 million loan from the CEB is helping to finance the programme.

Dimcho Topchiiski, a resident of the Boulevard Osvobojdenie building in Karlovo
By 2020 the Bulgarian government aims to increase energy efficiency by 25% and reduce energy consumption by 50% (compared to 2005 levels). With Bulgarian households the third largest energy user in the country, consuming 25% of the country’s energy, the government is focusing on refurbishing the state’s outdated – and energy hungry – apartment buildings.

 A sizeable challenge

The refurbished Boulevard Osvobojdenie building in Karlovo

The bulk of multi-apartment housing stock in Bulgaria was built in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s to meet the high demand for housing. These buildings – some 19,000 of them – house mostly lower income families and are now rapidly deteriorating. Many were constructed with poor quality materials and little regard to energy efficiency and have seen minimal maintenance. With some of the buildings nearing sixty years old, their services have reached the end of their lifespan. As a result, these tired buildings require a combination of measures, and substantial investment, to make them energy efficient and fit for purpose. 

Tackling the problem

Thanks to a Bulgarian government programme, the homeowners’ associations of eligible buildings are entitled to a full government grant to cover the full cost of renovation. Initially projected to cost around €500 and later extended to €1 billion, the programme is being financed through state-guaranteed loans and government contributions, with €150 million coming from a CEB loan.  

“This project was BDB’s fourth with the CEB as lender. Thanks to the state-guaranteed loan we received, we were able to substantially lower the cost of the financing and save public money. The CEB team’s professionalism, and our working relationship with them, were key to the project’s success,” Stoyan Mavrodiev, Chairman of the Management Board and Executive Director of the Bulgarian Development Bank (BDB)

Through the programme, high quality renovations are helping to:

  • reduce the buildings’ energy consumption and promote long-term energy savings for families
  • prolong the condition and lifespan of buildings
  • support the government to achieve its energy efficiency targets

The programme integrates the government’s environmental and housing sector priorities. By providing renovated housing, the programme will reduce the apartment buildings’ environmental impact, reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

“The cost of heating my apartment has fallen by more than 40% to 130 lev, which is enough of a benefit in itself," Dimcho Topchiiski, a resident of the Boulevard Osvobojdenie building in Karlovo

The numbers

  • 19,000

    multi-apartment buildings dating from the 1960s

  • 1.8 million


  • €150 million

    CEB loan

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