Facilitated decision-making procedures for sustainable refurbishment of residential properties

Participation in the refurbishment process: Monitoring of concrete refurbishment projects and development of guidelines to optimise the planning, information and decision-making processes in the course of the refurbishment of residential properties

Content Description





Up until 1980 about 286,000 freehold flats have been built in Austria. Freehold flats are residences that can be acquired through buying instead of a monthly rental basis. Today many of the flats from this building period have the following problem: Their heating demand is high and their condition is very poor - very often even worse than in houses that contain rental flats. Many of the freehold flats that have been built in the period up until 1980 need improvement or redevelopment, which is not happening enough. Consequently one can not say that the "aim of Austria's climate strategy", which postulates a doubling of the renovation rate, is being achieved.

In practice the reasons for a failure of renovations in residences that contain freehold flats can often be explained through lack of acceptance or different opinions amongst the owners, rather than through barriers of technical feasibility or financing.

Apart from the lacking renovations, the even more difficult problem is the integration of sustainable aspects in the redevelopment. If the renovation shall follow the targets of sustainability, energy related aspects and ecological construction, cost efficiency for the implementation and saving effects through the renovation, as well as user orientation and improvement of living comfort for the residents shall be kept in mind. Usually, the property management is in charge of guiding a renovation process in residences.

Inadequate procedures of planning, information and decision making, however, represent barriers for the implementation of comprehensive, innovative and sustainable renovations of residences.

Project targets and methods

The basic assumption of this project is the idea that an improvement of planning-, information- and decision processes increases the acceptance of comprehensive and innovative renovations of residences. In the framework of this project, the project team cooperated with two property management institutions, whereas two concrete renovation projects were accompanied from the beginning. It was the aim to try out and to demonstrate moderated decision procedures in practice.

In addition to these two demonstration projects, two "conventional" renovation processes were examined in retrospect, through interviews with involved parties. For one project management institution, the decision-making process for four real estates was quantitatively analysed through protocols. The results and experiences through the pilot projects were summarised in a guideline, established in cooperation with experts of the renovation industry. For that purpose, interviews took place and expert workshops were carried out.

The guideline "Renovation of Residences" represents a core product of this project and is dedicated to the real estate- and the housing industry. The guideline contains advice and practical instructions for the design of information- and decision-making processes, as well as for the integration of planning- and decision processes.

Results and Conclusions

By means of a quantitative analysis of concrete cases of renovation, it has become evident that a high percentage of "non-voters" hamper the becoming of a decision in favour of a renovation. To increase the probability for a renovation, it is highly recommended to mobilise the residents to participate in the assembly of residents and in the further decision process.

Through accompanying two concrete renovation projects in cooperation with the respective property management institutions, the following conclusions can be drawn:

Appropriate and Comprehensive Information

Even if at the beginning of a renovation project measures and costs can not yet be stated, it builds up confidence if the planned decision process is introduced to the residents: Which information is needed to make which decision and when? Further planning as well as cost and profit dispositions involve expenses. Improved usage of benchmarks for the renovation costs of different alternatives can make decisions easier, especially in the field of sustainable renovation measures.

The Image of the Assembly of Residents

The gatherings of residents have shown that a professional third party moderation and consultation can considerably relieve the property management institution, as the property management often plays a double role. It not just moderates the meetings and the decision process, but is also an involved party, which makes the decision process very difficult. In the case of a neutral third party, consisting of a moderator and advice of experts, the representatives of the property management institution can better concentrate on their substantial input and on replying to concrete questions.

The assemblies should take place in an adequate framework. An informative invitation is an incentive to participate. The dramaturgy of an assembly of residents should be thoroughly planned and opportunities for visualisation shall be applied.


If residents are well informed and are confronted with a transparent process design, the chance of realizing a sustainable renovation increases. Comprehensive information and transparency can be achieved with newly developed reasonable methods, which enable an evaluation of the state of the art as well as an investigation of various possibilities including an estimation of expected costs. The klima:aktiv program "wohnmodern" offers "a rough analysis consulting package" for property management institutions and communities of residents. This package also includes the participation of independent experts at resident meetings. Their role is, to present the state of the art and the recommended measures of a comprehensive modernization, in order to inform the residents and make discussions possible.

Utilization of the results

The guideline "Renovation of Residences" should not only be distributed through the assemblies of housing industry, but also be used in training workshops. Results from projects which are part of the Austrian program "Haus der Zukunft" ("Building of Tomorrow") stimulated the development of a new training concept for developers (builders) and property management institutions. In June 2005 the Austrian builder association "Österreichischer Verband gemeinnütziger Bauvereinigungen" gbv and the Austrian assembly of real estate agents ÖVI signed an agreement with the Austrian Ministry of Environment, declaring that future training programs should also include sustainable renovation aspects.

Project Partners

Project manager: Walter Hüttler
Österreichische Energieagentur - Austrian Energy Agency
  • Mag. Margarete Havel
    Havel & Havel Beratungs GesmbH
    Empirische Sozial- und Marktforschung/Technisches Büro für Sportanlagen
  • DI Johannes Fechner
    17&4 Organisationsberatung GmbH


Walter Hüttler
Österreichische Energieagentur - Austrian Energy Agency
Otto-Bauer-Gasse 6
1060 Wien
Tel.: +43 1 5861524-45
Fax: +43 1 5861524-40
E-Mail: walter.huettler@energyagency.at