Beautiful Cetinje: Energy efficiency for the history and for the future

Opening of the Refurbished Music Academy in Cetinje, old royal capital of Montenegro. Photo: UN in Montenegro/ Vlatko Otašević

The challenge of the century for Montenegro is to make resources go further – to do more with less. In order to be competitive economically, in order to create decent jobs and invest in health and education for its citizens, and in order to safeguard the unique natural resources it has been blessed with, Montenegro should aggressively address and cut inefficiencies, invest in clean energy production, local food production and the tourism industry.


  • Keeping in mind that the price of energy and resources in general will continue to grow - with each increase projects like this one seem to appear more profitable.
  • An investment in the amount of € 100,000 provides up to € 20,000 of yearly savings in energy consumption;
  • 10 unemployed people from Cetinje were employed to do the adaptation works, and there is a possibility for their continued employment in construction sector;
  • The entire investment will pay off in 6 years;
  • CO2 emissions will be 36 tons lower every year
  • Such investments increase municipal economic activities and represent a potential for local budget increase.

Early in 2011, representatives of the Old Royal Capital of Montenegro Cetinje and UNDP had a project idea, and they named it Beautiful Cetinje. The idea is about the economic revitalization of the old capital and urban reconstruction of the cultural heritage, with energy efficiency as essential element. In addition, the aim is to organize vocational trainings, to support small local businesses and to encourage green design ideas and innovations in an overall urban development. In this way unused potentials for development of cultural tourism will be unleashed as the main engine of economic growth in this municipality.

In March 2011 the Project team organized detailed energy audits for several buildings in the historic core of the city, in order to estimate energy saving potentials and test the project idea. The audits showed great potential for savings in energy consumption and significant possibilities for reducing CO2 emissions. With joint funds and joint efforts of the Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Culture, Old Royal Capital and UNDP, retrofit of the first building started - the ex-British Embassy building, today the Music Academy. The work entailed reconstruction of facades, roof adaptation, replacing the entire facade windows, thermal insulation of the attic and parts of the facade, replacing heating systems with boilers, works on the inner light bulbs, etc..

The cost of works was almost €100,000. Total investment will produce nearly €20,000 of energy savings annually, with reductions in 30 tons of CO2 emissions per year. Return on investment will take less than six years. The important result of the project is creating construction jobs for the local population. Namely, ten people from Cetinje were employed in the reconstruction getting thus a chance to present their skills and qualifications in direct communication with potential future employers.

The main city square was also reconstructed and energy efficient lighting was introduced.

The new Music Academy building has officially been opened in September 2012. Addressing the many guests, Mr. Aleksandar Bogdanović, the Mayor of Cetinje recalled that the construction of the British Embassy began exactly one hundred years ago, and nowadays, thanks to the retrofitting, it has become the first building in Cetinje that meets modern standards in terms of energy efficiency. “The former British Legation shines in new splendor. Therefore, I have all the reasons to say that it is an example of a well reconstructed facility, and it will provide ideal working conditions for the students of the Music Academy,” said Mayor Bogdanović.

The successful work obliges the Project team to continue working even more vigorously. There is more to do: to reconstruct several buildings in the historic city center by implementing elements of energy efficiency, to organize vocational training for the unemployed with direct involvement in retrofitting, to spread project activities on use of renewables - solar panels in the first place, to continue with sustainable reconstruction of city squares. Furthermore, the project will be replicated in other municipalities next year.

Investing in energy efficiency and renewables is not just an innovative approach in domains of architecture and construction. Being energy efficient is in fact the engine of economic development and, very important, it is a way to save local and central budgets. In times of global crisis, such a policy is maybe the only tool for achieving sustainable development and for organizing life and national economy.

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