National strategies integrating a range of policy tools – the Russian Federation and the United States

Bruessels, Belgium Awareness-raising and training, Climate sustainability


National energy efficiency strategies, guided by the SDGs and driven by legally binding international commitments, such as the Paris Climate Agreement, increasingly give attention not only to the energy efficiency of new and existing housing and neighbourhoods but also to reducing energy-related poverty. National strategies often bring together a range of policy tools, from building standards and their compliance to tax incentives and direct investment to promote walkable neighbourhoods, as outlined in box 9.  UNECE has developed different materials to assist countries in preparing energy efficiency strategies, among them the:

  • Action Plan for Energy-Efficient Housing in the UNECE Region, which outlines a number of goals, targets and actions structured in three dimensions of energy efficiency – (i) governance and finance, (ii) technological advancement, and (iii) access and affordability (
  • Good Practices for Energy Efficient Housing (
  • Green Homes (
  • Climate Neutral Cities (

It has also published a useful report mapping progress in the development of energy-efficiency standards and technologies in buildings across the UNECE region drawing together the latest evidence ( The following illustrations from the Russian Federation and the United States present how numerous policy tools can be combined to drive change across very large geographies, often involving multiple jurisdictions and housing submarkets. Both national strategies are continually evolving as they respond to new challenges, technical innovations and policy directions.

In the Russian Federation many households live in ageing multistorey residential buildings with inefficient district heating systems reliant on fossil fuel energy sources. Deep energy efficiency renovations of old apartment complexes can significantly reduce energy consumption (up to 50 per cent).[1]

The Government of the Russian Federation has been evolving strategies to improve energy efficiency and increase energy savings for consumers, incorporating different policy tools. Since 2013, the Ministry of Energy has been implementing the State programme on Energy Efficiency and Energy Sector Development[2] with associated energy savings and energy efficiency improvement targets, a role it now shares with the Ministry of Construction and Utilities concerning the built environment.  The Presidential Decree of 7 May 2012 “On measures to ensure the citizens of the Russian Federation affordable and comfortable accommodation and quality of housing and communal services”  built on previous commitments to undertake energy audits and establish energy passports for buildings to determine the most appropriate labelling scheme for Russian conditions.

Energy efficiency of housing is now the responsibility of the Department of Housing and Utilities within the Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities.[3] It supports implementation of technical standards for apartment dwellings, as well as manages Fund for Promoting Housing and Utilities Reform[4] to promote energy improvements.

Energy efficiency classifications, with technical requirements to achieve different energy classes (A++ to G) cover the following aspects of apartment dwellings: [5]

  • Thermal insulation
  • Heating and hot water systems
  • Air conditioning systems
  • Natural and mechanical ventilation
  • Solar gains (G-values)
  • Lighting efficiency design, position and orientation
  • Air-tightness
  • Thermal bridging
  • Indoor and outdoor climatic conditions

High energy efficiency certification (A) can only be given to apartments with individual heat supply stations, automatic indoor temperature regulation, energy-efficient lighting of common areas and energy metres. In 2017, 8,686 dwellings were classified as energy-efficient, with most achieving a B standard (5,438). Standards are yet to be developed for renewable energy sources, passive solar systems or solar protection. Only thermal standards are mandatory, and penalties and incentives are not widely used to promote compliance (UNECE, 2018, p.25).

The Government has made a strategic investment on housing energy efficiency by establishing the Fund for Promoting Housing and Utilities Reform. The Government co-funds (10 per cent) the costs of energy-related apartment renovations to achieve a B or higher energy standard.

Given the large size of the country and its regional variation in climate and living conditions, the Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities is devising more locally tailored and delivered programmes. The Government is currently formulating ways to improve energy efficiency, which will be mandatory for the renovation of apartment buildings and public sector facilities. The renovations aim to increase the living comfort and reduced utility bills in the future will pay off the cost of the renovation. Efforts have also been made to resettle households when their housing is deemed unsafe or uncomfortable (those having the “G” EPC rating standard).

In 2021 the Ministry reported a modest progress in the scale of efficient residential construction However, energy cost savings to residents was considerably high at 40 per cent.[6]  In addition, the Ministry has also been developing a mechanism to increase interest in installing metering devices to measure individual energy consumption (as opposed to uniform building costs with district heating systems). These devices are considered important to raise consumer awareness of utility costs as well as of savings in energy bills resulting from the renovations.

The United States enacts national legislation, strategies, policies and programmes to drive energy efficiency, that have a direct effect on the provision of federally funded affordable housing policies and programmes. Some of the federal energy efficiency policies are the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008.

The Energy Policy Act 2005 stipulates the energy efficiency product purchasing requirements; and integrates energy efficiency in capital investment planning and in public housing construction. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 updates the federal energy performance standards for buildings for new construction projects, supported by housing programmess and financing products of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and for manufactured housing. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) added an impulse to energy efficiency in existing single-family residential markets, especially in markets affected by the global financial Crisis. Various United States presidents have also provided national leadership in this realm, such as the Obama Climate Action Plan, stimulating industry reform and apartment standards; and the recent Biden Infrastructure Plan which encourages retrofitting efforts.

HUD coordinates housing programmes in the affordable housing domain in partnership with other public and private agencies. Under section 154 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, HUD is required to report to Congress on its progress and achievements toward implementing planned actions. HUD reported to Congress in 2016 that it has utilized a wide range of policy tools/strategies to “promote energy-efficient buildings and location-efficient communities that are healthy, affordable, and diverse”, including:

  • Conditional grant programmes, which are designed to promote healthy developments
  • Performance-based incentives to mobilise private investment
  • Innovative public loans to stimulate green renovation and construction, which are tailored to drive change in different segments of the housing market
  • Decision-making tools to channel efforts of public actors, such as public housing authorities and needs assessment tools for capital investment that address energy efficiency issues
  • Benchmarking standards to guide good performance
  • Common energy and green retrofit standards or protocols
  • Training and technical assistance for key stakeholders and partners in public assisted programmes
  • Public competitions to catalyse better energy performance
  • Data collection and reporting systems
  • Evaluation instruments to assess the effectiveness of the Government’s energy efficiency investments analysis via energy modelling and scenario planning tool
  • Funding of sustainability research and evaluation
  • Implementation of federal statutes on energy efficiency
  • Updating minimum energy code requirements
  • Strengthening interagency and private sector partnerships
  • Expanding energy literacy and economic opportunity strategy
  • Implementing Industry wide and strategic housing segment impulses as part of the President’s Climate Plan and Better Buildings Challenge
  • Setting renewable energy target in federally assisted housing
  • Undertaking place-based initiatives for climate resilience and adaptation
  • Support resilient power and climate resilience.

The American Jobs Plan, proposed by the United States President Joe Biden, foresees the spending of over USD 2 trillion on infrastructure over a period of 8 years as part of the wider “Build Back Better” plan.[7] Contained within the infrastructure plan is a proposal to devote more than USD 200 billion to refurbishing housing in the United States. Affordable housing is a key area where improved infrastructure and investment are desperately needed, with a growing number of residents experiencing housing insecurity. High rent and home energy costs together form an “affordable housing crisis,” with a significant proportion of the residents paying more than half of their monthly income on rent. To address these challenges, the American Jobs Plan foresees spending USD 213 billion to build, preserve and retrofit more than two million homes and commercial buildings, simultaneously employing a greater number of Americans in construction and project labor agreements. The plan foresees:

  • Producing, renovating and retrofitting more than one million affordable, resilient, accessible, energy-efficient and electrified housing units while extending affordable housing rental opportunities to vulnerable communities, including in rural and tribal areas
  • Building and rehabilitating more than 500,000 homes for low- and middle-income homebuyers via the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act (NHIA)[8]
  • Eliminating exclusionary zoning and harmful land use policies
  • Investing an additional USD 40 billion to improve the infrastructure of the public housing system
  • Mobilizing private investment into distributed energy resources; retrofits of residential, commercial and municipal buildings; and clean transportation.

Taken together, such measures aim to improve employment and affordable housing outcomes for families while addressing the wider-reaching goals of improving infrastructure and housing resilience, combatting climate change, and delivering an equitable clean energy future.

The Biden administration has proposed to include in his budget request for fiscal year 2022 the amount of USD 800 million to invest across HUD programmes to rehabilitate public housing, and to modernize and upgrade housing energy efficiency and resilience to climate change impacts, such as increasingly frequent and severe floods. To weatherize low-income households, an additional USD 400 million is proposed for the Department of Energy. If enacted, the budget will increase public investments in affordable and energy efficient homes.[9]



More information

[1] IEA, Energy Policies Beyond IEA Countries: Russia 2014 (Paris, International Energy Agency, 2014). Available at

[3] For information on the roles and responsibilities of departments in the Russian Federation dealing with energy efficiency, see

[4] Russian Federation, Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities. “Description”. Available at

[5] UNECE, Mapping of Existing Technologies to Enhance Energy Efficiency in Buildings in the UNECE Region  (Geneva, 2018), p.32. Available at

[6] Russian Federation, Minstroy of Russia, “Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency in the Housing and Utilities Sector”. Available at

[7] United States of America, The White House, “Fact Sheet: The American Jobs Plan”, Statements and Releases., 31 March 2021. Available at

[8] Neighbourhood Homes Investment Act,

[9] For more on the proposal of President Biden to increase the HUD budget for fiscal year 2022 to 15%, see