A makeover for Turkey’s housing market with the help of TuREEFF

By Miroslav  Maly

A makeover for Turkey’s housing market with the help of TuREEFF

The EBRD and its donor partners are boosting green investments in Turkey’s residential housing sector.

Turkey's housing market is undergoing a major makeover. The EBRD is helping investments in energy efficient and anti-seismic property development thanks to its Turkish Residential Energy Efficiency Financing Facility (TuREEFF).

TuREEFF combines as much as US$ 216 million of loans from the EBRD and US$ 54 million of grant co-financing from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF). In addition, the European Union  provides €9 million and CTF US$ 2 million for technical cooperation projects.

The EBRD together with Turkey and the Climate Investment Funds boost investment in energy efficiency improvements in Turkey’s housing sector and help residents reduce their energy bills and cut countries greenhouse gas emissions.

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Turkey has suffered from some of the worst earthquakes in history killing hundreds of thousands of people. Because Turkey is a seismically active area within the collision zone of the Eurasian Plate and both the African and Arabian Planes, it is considered a hotspot for potential damaging hazards.

Even though it is virtually impossible to predict when the next earthquake might strike, researchers are urging the creation of safety plans.

The Turkish government is well aware of these risks and so has implemented an Urban Transformation Plan (UTP):  to demolish and reconstruct thousands of buildings in those earthquake-prone areas deemed to be unsafe.

The EBRD saw the UTP as a great opportunity and developed it even further – under the TuREEFF umbrella. The Facility encourages companies to build not only safer, but more energy-efficient housing in Turkey.

The reasoning here is simple. If a small or medium-sized construction company is demolishing an existing building and decides to rebuild it to a higher energy efficiency standard, then it can benefit from a TuREEFF loan from the banks participating in the programme.

DMS Yapi construction company – an Istanbul based small and medium-sized enterprise– is an example of one of the early beneficiaries, thanks to the loan it received from Sekerbank – the very first bank to join the TuREEFF programme.

TuREEFF provides finance to those SME construction companies and project developers willing to invest in sustainable energy projects. In fact, this is currently one of the top priorities for Turkey, as its residential sector is identified as one of the most energy intensive.

Jean-Patrick Marquet, the Director for Turkey, said: “The reason why we focus on investments that promote energy efficiency in the residential sector in Turkey is because we believe that they provide high value for money.

“With the TuREEFF programme and its advisory services we can also help increase the awareness of the benefits of the energy efficiency improvements in households across the country.”

The benefits of TuREEFF investments are manifold. Saving energy in residential buildings will help decrease total levels of energy consumption in the country, can boost the economy and preserve the environment by reducing CO2 emissions.

As an example, the current energy savings with the DMS Yapi reconstruction project are more than 65 per cent. Thanks to the consultant’s encouragement, DMS Yapi also decided to upgrade the Energy Performance Certificate of the buildings in question well above the minimum level required under Turkish law.

To support this upgrade, TuREEFF’s engineering team provided the company with technical assistance through every phase. These included help in raising awareness on energy efficiency measures, developing and implementing the project, as well as verification of the results.

The banks participating in the programme, on the other hand, received a helping hand in a number of areas - from product development, marketing and communications, pipeline development, eligibility assessments and outcomes reporting.

It will, however, be the home-owners who will feel the biggest difference. Their energy bills are likely to decrease and at the same time their standard of living, as well as safety, will increase considerably. Participation in the scheme is voluntary, but with such improvements on the horizon the choice seems to be simple.

With the Urban Transformation Plan established, the debate over safety and energy efficiency in buildings across Turkey, is now gaining prominence. And the EBRD’s TuREEFF programme is well placed to exploit the new mood.