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Challenge / Goal

The main idea of Tartu’s lighthouse project is to turn khrushchyovkas (a type of panel buildings that were constructed during the reign of Nikita Khruschchev starting from the 1950s) into smartovkas (i.e. high-quality living environments that inspire the community to make environmentally aware decisions and to change their patterns of consumption behaviour) with a drastic reduction in the energy use of the buildings. With an average life cycle of 30-40 years, many of the khrushchyovkas have already outlived their time, meaning that the shortcomings in quality are becoming increasingly evident and might even pose a threat to their residents. Hereby, the SmartEnCity approach proceeds from an understanding that new buildings are constructed according to high contemporary standards and are thus energy-efficient anyways – the true challenge is how to retrofit the old panel buildings that have great energy saving potential.


The City of Tartu piloted a series of retrofitting solutions in 18 khrushchyovkas in the city centre. Increasing the energy performance of the demo area’s housing stock through the smartovka renovation package will reduce energy consumption from the current ca. 270 kWh/m2y to 90 kWh/m2y (i.e. meeting class A requirements). The solutions include:

  • Insulating all outer walls of the buildings with pre-insulated panels (weighted average level U≤0.22 W/(m2*K))
  • Replacing all windows with triple-glazed windows (integrated thermal transmittance level U≤1.10 W/(m2*K)) and adding an insulation layer
  • Replacing all front doors to reduce heat loss
  • Insulating and reconstructing the roofs (heat transfer coefficient U≤0.12 W/(m2*K))
  • Installing a ventilation system with heat exchangers
  • Reconstructing the central heating system and installing thermostatic valves that allow to adjust room temperature in the range of 18-23°C
  • Adding low-temperature cooling systems to complement the district heating system
  • Installing 400-500 kWp PV panels to provide additional energy for the buildings
  • Applying art solutions on the facades to increase the aesthetic appeal of the buildings (see linked Use Case)
  • Setting up a smart home system (see linked Use Case)

The renovation activities directly affect ca. 1600 inhabitants of the pilot area. The weighted average of the energy consumption of these buildings will be reduced by almost 70%.

Citizen participation

In addition to improving energy efficiency and comfort, one of the main aims of the retrofitting activities is to encourage behavioural changes in the way residents consume energy and adapt to new technologies. After all, there are not a lot of changes that can be implemented without cooperation and willingness of the users. For boosting participation and interest in the project, several measures have been taken into use, including regular information meetings, technical consultations, study trips to similar construction sites and forum discussions. The awareness-raising actions of the citizen engagement strategy are also complemented with a social innovation model that focuses on how to motivate residents to use the installed smart devices and to save energy.



decrease energy loss from windows, doors, roofs, and walls

generating energy with Solar PV

improving air quality though an energy efficient ventilation system

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Time period

Planning time: 1 to 2 years

Implementation time: 1 to 2 years

Service providers

SmartEnCity; The City of Tartu

End users


    Main benefits

  • Improving energy usage efficiency

  • Decreasing energy consumption in buildings

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