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Ozolciema iela 46/3 Riga Zemgale

Ozolciema iela 46/3 Riga Zemgale


In 1999 the Senate for Urban Development in Berlin and The Latvian Ministry for Environment and Urban Development in Riga agreed to refurbish the building as an energy efficiency pilot for high-rise buildings. Managed by IWO (Initiative Wohnungswirtschaft Osteuropa – Housing Initiative for Eastern Europe), this pilot led to an on-going refurbishment programme across Latvia.
The project was inspired by Latvia’s need to address the deteriorating condition of its residential high-rise stock, and by Germany wishing to disseminate its experience in overcoming similar problems in its own high-rise stock.
Consequently the Senate for Urban Development in Berlin and the Latvian Ministry for Environment and Urban Development in Riga reached an agreement, where the Berlin municipal government would fund 50% of the pilot’s administrative costs, to the tune of €250,000. The remaining €250,000 was made available by sponsoring construction companies and manufacturers.
The programme is financed by a global fund from the German KFW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau – Bank of Reconstruction) with €5 million, and supported through interest rate subsidies and investment cost grants from the BMU (Bundesministerium für Umwelt – German Ministry of Environmental Protection), up to €1.98 million. The loan fund is offered via the state-owned Latvian Mortgage Bank to individual applicants up to a maximum of €6,500, repayable over 20 years. It was found that loans with subsidised interest rates were more effective than providing direct subsidies to individuals, especially when combined with long-term loans.
As of October 2004 seven buildings will benefit from the programme. These will be subject to a monitoring and evaluation programme that will assess the benefits to the state and municipalities introducing energy efficiency refurbishments as well as assessing incentives and arrangements conducive to greater construction company involvement.

Building details

Type of building: Ozolciema iela 46/3 Riga Zemgale in Riga is a typical circa 1990 CEE high-rise comprising 72 rented flats over 9 storeys. It is built of lightweight single layer prefabricated concrete panels.

Heating 3955m2, the community-connected heating system comprised a single pipe system that could only be regulated by opening and closing the building’s (leaky) windows.

Year of construction/ Floor area: The Ozolciema iela 46/3 Riga Zemgale was built in 1990. The building has 5562m2 of floor area.
Heating and cooling / measures installed Improvements to the building included insulation to the façade, roof and basement ceiling. New windows were added and the heating system was completely overhauled, including new pipe work and the installation of regulating and monitoring equipment. These improvements were achieved without having to decant the building’s residents.
Energy label/CO2 emissions - The measured heating energy savings were:
Before refurbishment: 155 kWh/m2a
After refurbishment: 73 kWh/m2a
Energy saved: 82 kWh/m2a or 53%
- The CO2 emissions savings per dwelling were:
Before refurbishment: 2,442 kg/a
After refurbishment: 1,046 kg/a
CO2 emissions saved: 1,395 kg/a or 57%

Ozolciema iela 46/3 Riga Zemgale. Before refurbishment


Aim The pilot project was intended to establish the technical feasibility of applying the Berlin experience of energy efficient high-rise refurbishment to the Latvian context. Its objectives were as follows:
- To produce an energy efficient refurbishment that could also solve construction problems at the façade.
- To select a refurbishment building to which replicable improvements could be made; the building’s heating system is typical of those found in Latvia.
- To demonstrate that an energy efficiency refurbishment project introducing complex measures could be achieved without decanting.
- To realise a 50% reduction in heating costs whilst increasing resident comfort levels.
- To demonstrate successful collaboration between Latvian and German organisations in energy efficiency refurbishment.
Key points The improvements
- Roof: The roof was treated with 100mm of thermal insulation.
- Walls: The building façade received the most visible heat-saving changes. Firstly, the building’s outer walls were covered with 80mm slabs of thermal insulation. This was fixed using the latest supporting screen technology and then covered with decorative plaster. This yielded a weatherproof heat shield (guaranteed for 25 years) and significantly reduced the possibility of repair work.
- Basement ceiling: Thermally insulated with 60mm of sprayed foam.
The new insulation reduced heat loss through walls, the roof and basement by 65%.
- Windows and ventilation: New double glazed, plastic framed windows were fitted, complete with ventilation canals. These, combined with the new mechanical exhaust ventilation shafts connecting to bathrooms and kitchens, reduced ventilation loss by up to 50%.
- Stairwell: Repaired and renovated with the new façade, the apartment building became more attractive on the outside. This is why it was important to repair the inside as well. Renovated multi-family buildings in Berlin have shown that if stairwells are also renovated, residents feel especially proud of their building.
- Heating system: Both space heating and domestic hot water remain connected to a gas-fired thermal district heating station.
Basement: To maximise the energy saving potential, the heating system in the basement was upgraded with modern heating controls and flow regulation technology. In addition, existing pipes in the basement were insulated to minimise heat loss.
- Flats: Radiators were replaced, incorporating a two pipe system complete with TRVs and heat meters, allowing residents to regulate and monitor heat consumption. This has allowed heating costs to calculated according to each apartment’s heat consumption.

It was noted that further energy conservation would be possible if concurrent modernisation of the heat supply were undertaken. This would be augmented with the introduction of regulatory requirements for heat consumption to be metered at the apartment.

Reason for inclusion as Shining Example This building was successfully piloted as a replicable example of an energy efficient high-rise refurbishment in Latvia. Within three months and without decanting residents saw their building transformed, leading to drastic savings in energy. This would not have been possible without a truly collaborative approach that ensured residents could understand, afford, and materially benefit from the improvements. The success of this pilot has led to a wider programme of energy efficient high-rise refurbishment across Latvia.

Ozolciema iela 46/3 Riga Zemgale. After refurbishment


Costs &


the Senate for Urban Development in Berlin and the Latvian Ministry for Environment and Urban Development in Riga reached an agreement, where the Berlin municipal government would fund 50% of the pilot’s administrative costs, to the tune of €250,000. The remaining €250,000 was made available by sponsoring construction companies and manufacturers.
Benefits - Completed in 2001 and as a result of the improvements, residents’ heating bills were approximately halved while comfort improved markedly. Approximately 53% or 50,000 m3 of gas per year is being saved.
- Energy conservation: 53 % or 50,000m³ of gas per year saved, or put differently 82 kWh/m2a of living space within the building was saved. This lead to CO2 emissions reductions of about 1.4 t per apartment per year.
- Increased supply security, reliability through reduced demand.
- Improved building durability (drier building – less corrosion in the long term) prolonging the life of the building.
- Healthier and more comfortable living environment (reduced mould, higher interior surface temperatures; new building façade led to a far more attractive locale)
- Reduced heating costs for tenants – by approximately half, from €240 per year to €120 per year for the average flat.
- Refurbishment took less than three months and did not require decanting.
- Compliance with new European standards such as the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and progress towards targets.
- Ten new jobs created due to investment.
- Raised public awareness due to dedicated promotional campaign.
- Increase in tax revenue: an estimated 35% of the value of the works was generated as a result of the works, via VAT and other duties.


Partnership details The Senate for Urban Development in Berlin and the Latvian Ministry for Environment and Urban Development in Riga reached an agreement, where the Berlin municipal government would fund 50% of the pilot’s administrative costs, to the tune of €250,000. The remaining €250,000 was made available by sponsoring construction companies and manufacturers.

IWO, an association of public/private partners targeting sustainable construction in Eastern Europe, was brought in as project manager. A public-private partnership was formed, allowing architect and engineering firm BBP Bauconsulting and scientific institutions from Berlin and Riga to join the project. Further project partners joined later, including construction companies providing sponsored products. The local partner and beneficiary was the Zemgale Municipality of Riga.

The construction phase of the project ran from July to October 2001, after which time the energy performance of the project building was compared with a very similar, unimproved building in Berlin.


Achievements and Lessons Learned - As a result of Latvian housing privatization policy, most of the flats were privatized. However, home owners, especially in multi-storey buildings, are mostly not collectively organized and thus do not have representative bodies. As private property ownership is a relatively new phenomenon in Latvia, owners’ awareness of the problems, rights and responsibilities associated with ownership is less developed. This renders engagement with owners more time-consuming.
- Due to this unfamiliarity, residents were hesitant to commit to the substantial loans needed to allow the refurbishment to proceed. Because the synergies achievable through a holistic approach to energy efficient refurbishment are usually lost through installing only half-measures, it became crucial to the success of this development (and similar future developments) that suitable finance terms were offered. Fortunately such terms were availed to the residents.
- Loan offers from Latvian banks are generally at relatively high interest rates and are not available over the long term. This led to the need for external expertise and funding to achieve the kind of loan terms acceptable to residents.
- Awareness among key government personnel of energy efficient building refurbishment in public or private buildings (especially pre-fabricated) is relatively low. This has led to additional awareness-raising being undertaken for this project, but also to capacity-building among stakeholders such as financiers, housing managers, municipalities, residents and government departments, as part of the ongoing programme. However, it is recognised that there remains a great deal of progress to be made in this area.
- In residential refurbishment occupiers are often faced with having to vacate their homes while the improvement work takes place. In this case decanting was avoided through meticulous planning and execution of works. This meant that the time required inside the flats themselves was relatively short; four hours for window replacement and four hours for heating system improvements.
- Tenants, at their own behest, were to be charged for their heating pro-rata rather than by a flat rate, generating an added incentive to minimise their homes’ heating demand. This approach is rare in Latvia and was achieved through collaboration with the heating supplier, while the Latvian University undertook monitoring activities.
- Of course there were many other problems associated with the radical economic and institutional reform occurring at the time in Latvia. This led to problems relating to the financing arrangements, liability issues and weak owner associations.

To know more



Initiative Wohnungswirtschaft Osteuropa (IWO) e.V.
Contact Knut Höller

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