Mexico’s initiative to achieve sustainable housing

25 Jun 2018

The Sustainable Improvement in Existing Housing initiative, which aims to reduce energy intensity in the housing sector, is proving to be a success in Mexico. The multilateral initiative has seen unprecedented growth in the past two years and has become a model for many projects that tackle sustainability issues in various 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 at the Trust for the Saving of Electric Power (FIDE), and Víctor Gabriel Zúñiga Espinoza, Director of Energy Efficiency working for the Sub-Secretariat of Planning and Energy Transitions 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 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 expenditure for low-income families by substituting inefficient ACs, water heaters and insulating materials with certified efficient equipment. These efficient technologies are promoted through close collaboration with FIDE and other private entities. According to Jorge Eloy Toledo Rojas, the project has subsidised the replacement of inefficient technologies and allowed users to pay back ´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 raise citizens’ awareness of the new, efficient technologies available to them. To address this issue, SENER has been working with programme 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 to extend the 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. 


 Jorge Eloy Toledo has two years in the design, development and coordination of the Sustainable Improvement Program in existing homes. He was the Director of Accreditation and Certification of the Secretariat of Public Education, Director of Administration of the Board of Works and Installations, Head of the Career in Transportation Engineering and Professor of the National Polytechnic Institute. He was also the director and owner of a construction company for housing and public services.  


Victor Gabriel Zuñiga Espinoza is an engineer graduated from the Autonomous University of Nuevo León. He currently serves as Director of Energy Efficiency at the Ministry of Energy of Mexico. He has been in charge of the coordination of actions to follow up the programs implemented by the energy sector and private initiative at the national level. Currently collaborates assisting in the development and execution of policies, programs and projects in the field of energy efficiency aimed at achieving the country's energy efficiency goals, under the protection of legal regulations and other legal rules derived from them, in order to promote the energy efficiency.