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he Sustainable Improvement in Existing Housing initiative, which aims to reduce energy intensity inthe housing sector, isproving to be a success in Mexico. The multilateral initiative has seen unprecedented growth in the past two years and become a model for many projects that tacklewith sustainability issues invarious sectors. To find out how this innovative programme supports Mexico’s energy efficiency objectives, the IPEEC Newsletter interviewed Jorge Eloy Toledo Rojas, Sub-Manager of the Residential Sector Programme, and Víctor Gabriel Zúñiga Espinoza, Director of Energy Efficiency Directorate working for the Sub-Secretariat of Planning and Energy Transitions, both at the Ministry of Energy of Mexico (SENER).

SENER oversees the production and regulation of energy in Mexico and has been developing programmes for the four main sectors of energy consumption: industry, transport, services and housing. In 2017, SENER, together with the Mexican Trust for Energy Efficiency Savings (FIDE) and Mexico’s        National Housing Commission (CONAVI), launched the Sustainable Improvement in Existing Housing initiative, which is dedicated to improving energy efficiency in the housing sector. The programme began with pilot projects in three communities and has now spread to over 70 cities with more than 450 direct beneficiaries.

The results have been encouraging. The initiative has reduced gas and electricity expenditurefor low-income familiesby substituting inefficient ACs, water heaters and insulating materials with certified efficient equipment. These efficient technologies are promoted through close collaboration withFIDE and other private entities. According to Jorge Eloy Toledo Rojas, the project has subsidised the replacement of inefficient technologies and allowed users to payback ´loans´ with the savings generated by the newly installed and more efficient technologies in less than five years. About 40% of the total expense of technology substitution is covered by the programme.

The initiative has seen particularly high participation rates in the northern part of Mexico, as higher temperatures there result in extensive use of AC technologies by local populations. In the centre of the country, the most frequently used technologies are water heaters, solar panels and insulation materials.

While the initiative has successfully provided a wider range of citizens with access to energy efficient technologies, there are some challenges ahead. For Víctor Gabriel Zúñiga Espinoza, key among them is how to raisecitizens’ awareness of the new, efficient technologies available to them. To address this issue, SENERhas been working withprogramme beneficiaries to increase the visibility of the technologies deployed through the initiative.It is also currently considering the creation of a centralised online portal to allow potential beneficiaries to access information on the programme more easily.

Programmes like the Sustainable Improvement in Existing Housing can help cement trust in new technologies and change the approach to energy efficiency to ensure a swift energy transition. Both Mr. Zúñiga and Mr. Toledo regard such projects as stepping stones to promote more efficient technologies.They hope toextendthe Sustainable Improvement in Existing Housing programme to appliances and water-related services in the future. Mr. Zuniga is confident that the success of such programmes will keep Mexico on track for its energy efficiency objectives for 2030 and 2050.

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