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Csombor Utca 5-7



Hungary is a new EU Member State (EU10) with a moderate climate. It has a population in excess of 10 million people with a net annual average household income of €5,406. Alarmingly, high-rise dwellers spend approximately 17% of this on household energy consumption. As a result of the political transformation and market liberalisation occurring since the 1990s, Hungary’s housing stock has been subject to privatisation, reduced barriers to property acquisition, building materials trade liberalisation and the disintegration of its large state-owned construction companies. These reforms have led to new opportunities, but also new tensions as mortgage rates were exposed to high inflation and as the availability of finance diminished. New housing construction rates have dropped significantly as the existing stock continues to deteriorate and housing expenditure rises relative to income. All of these issues are relevant to Hungary’s residential high-rise, which represent around 23.2% of Hungary’s total housing stock.

Building details

Type of building: A 5 storey high-rise residential building comprising 56 flats.

The building envelope is constructed from insulated pre-fabricated concrete panels and a two layered, so-called “cold roof” structure with 50mm polystyrene insulation. There were wooden doors and double glazed, wood-framed windows in poor and leaky condition. The building is heated via district heating.

Year of construction/ Floor area: The Csombor Utca 5-7 was built in 1980.

The total heated floor area is 2110 m2.

Heating and cooling / measures installed _ Improvements to the building envelope included insulation basement ceiling and external walls. Seals were fitted to windows and doors. Upgrade of the heating system included fitting pipe insulation, new consumption-regulating devices to the main feed pipes in the basement, TRVs to radiators, new loop circuits to staircase radiators and the fitting of automatic valves to gas pipes.
Energy label/CO2 emissions Space heating energy consumption before refurbishment: 246 kWh/m2a

The performance of the heating system was not ascertained as several buildings are supplied from the same central heating, and neither heating or hot water consumption were separately measured.

Csombor Utca 5-7. Before refurbishment


Aim The project aims to:
- Reduce tenants’ electricity bills (high-rise dwellers spend approximately 17% of their net annual average household income on household energy consumption).
- Reduce the prices of the flats (flats were selling at a 25-30% premium over comparable properties in the neighbourhood).
Key points The improvements
- First floor slab: 40mm polystyrene insulating board was fixed to the slab’s lower surface. Furthermore, pipes were insulated with the thickest possible insulation without requiring their disassembly.
- Façade walls: These were treated with 80mm polystyrene thermal insulation, glued and plastic-coated, then coloured according to plan.
- Roof slab: The goal was to protect the insulation added to the roof in the previous year. However it was found that thermal insulation of the roof structure could only realised at great expense, and was consequently abandoned.
- Windows and doors: Joint seals were improved by pear-shaped draught proofing.
- Heating system: The building’s heating energy is supplied by a thermal power station and there is a heating substation installed in the basement of the building situated in Csombor Street 9-13. From here the heating energy is supplied by a steel pipe of Ø100 mm serving as a secondary circuit. Improvements to the system were as follows:

1. Consumption-limiting devices were installed in the basement pipes to enable more precise regulation of the heating system.

2. Simple entry valves were replaced with thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) in all flats.

3. All staircase radiators were connected to a loop circuit.

4. Existing manual gas valves were replaced with automatic valves, increasing system reliability.

5. The system was then tested and further precise adjustments made.

6. Arrangements were made with the housing community to ensure that the heating sub-system for each flat was measured and adjusted.

Reason for inclusion as Shining Example Csombor Utca is a high-rise refurbishment case study which clearly demonstrates the extent of energy saving achievable through a holistic technical approach. Truly exceptional however, are the considerable improvements in resident comfort and energy savings due largely to the dedication of the local government. It was their leadership, beyond funding requirements, which facilitated residents’ commitment to the project, both financially and in terms of participation in the project management.

Csombor Utca 5-7. After refurbishment


Benefits - First floor slab: This led to a saving of 7 kWh/m2 per heating season.
- Façade walls: These measures achieved a U-value of 0.3 W/m2K and savings of 24 kWh/m2 per heating season.
- Windows and doors: The existing double-glazed windows achieved an improved U-value of 2.0 W/m2K, with filtration improved to 1.0 W/m2K. Energy savings achieved were 24 kWh/m2 per heating season.


Partnership details The Csombor Utca project was initiated by the Kobanya local government, with co-funding from the European Community and from the residents themselves. As the primary contractor, the local government appointed a management company, Kobányai Vagyonkezelo Rt (KV Rt), to oversee the competitive tender process and administer the various project contracts.


Achievements _ Residents felt that the government were supporting their interests by structuring the investment to pay for itself within eight years and by making sufficient support available to ensure that they did not encounter financial difficulties. The residents did have to raise 20% of the completion amount, which proved very difficult. Despite having a 22 year working relationship with their bank, they faced protracted negotiations and were eventually offered unfavourable credit conditions.

Consequently, it was not until the final stages of the project that the owners were able to transfer their contribution and thereby allow completion.
Consultation and participation

Residents were asked to comment on the project management and generally felt that the tendering process, complete with competitive bidding and contractual requirements, proved useful – if somewhat time-consuming. While the formal execution of the contracts was managed by KV Rt, contract specifications allowed the existing ‘housing community’ direct access to the contractors which, in addition to exceptional cooperation and support offered by the Kobanya Government, enabled residents a satisfying degree of input into the project.

Overall, the housing community felt that they had solved real problems with this refurbishment. Residents were pleased to have had such an integral involvement in the overall project, from overseeing contract specification to choosing the style of the replacement windows. They have seen the heating performance of the building gradually improve, and are happy with how impressive the new façade looks, harmonising with the surrounding greenery.

Lessons Learned Provide information to tenants about the systems installed, about energy efficiency issues and any possible savings to be made.

To know more



Budapest University of Technology and Economics

National Technical Information Centre and Library

Contact Julia Fodor

Useful info


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