Forgot password

20 innovative responses to the housing challenges of our times

Meet the finalists of the 2nd European Responsible Housing Awards

Brussels, 18 November 2016 | Published in Energy, Urban, Economy, Social

The second edition of the European Responsible Housing Awards concludes with the Ceremony that will present the housing providers across Europe that make the difference in their communities. On November 23rd, the European Committee of the Regions will open its doors to host the 20 finalists of the second edition of the European Responsible Housing Awards.

The competition that is jointly organised by Housing Europe, Delphis and the International Union of Tenants (IUT) shares the innovative responses of affordable housing providers to the local, social and environmental challenges of our times. 4 Awards will be handed during the ceremony to the winners of each category that corresponds to the core elements of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR):

  • Local Social Sustainability
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Good governance and fair relations with stakeholders
  • Responsible human resources management

Housing associations from 9 EU countries France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom submitted their projects that will be added to the Responsible Housing database and shared with other peers through the Handbook of best practices.

Let’s meet the finalists!

Read More


Local Social Sustainability

Goedkope Woning from Kortrijk in Belgium shared its project ‘Venning Eco-Life’, a ground-breaking construction project whose objective was to transform the most disadvantage district in Kortrijk into the most sustainable, not just focusing on energy performance, ecology and CO2 neutrality, but also on a turning Venning into a pleasant place to live, stripping it of its social stigma. The initiative was implemented within the framework of the European Programme Eco-Life.

Woonbedrijf from Eindhoven in the Netherlands submitted ‘Space-S’ to the competition. Co-creation was at the core of delivery of 400 homes for regular and student housing. Woonbedrijf does not choose the residents, the residents choose each other by addressing questions during the planning process such as ‘How should we live together, what should we share?’. The organization highlights that “The DNA of Space-S is the interface between Green – Urban, Together – Self. Flexibility – Framework”.

‘Staudenhof’ is the project by ProPotsdam from Potsdam in Germany in the Local Social Sustainability category. The Staudenhof-Project for Housing and Communication is centred around the accommodation of refugees in Potsdam and their integration. In 2015 alone, Potsdam accommodated over 1.600 refugees. Currently, the housing project is comprised of 30 flats and 77 residents with migration background. It is supported by numerous volunteers, including several ProPotsdam employees but also the City of Potsdam.

For ‘Homebuilder’ of the ÖrebroBostäder from Örebro, Sweden The Municipality of Örebro, the Adult Education College, and the Labour Market Administration, together with the local Job Centre, collaborate and communicate with job seekers who might, in various ways, be included in the team during the project. The aim is to provide trainee positions or apply other labour market measures to job seekers in the area, thereby involving them in the renewal work. With high levels of unemployment, such labour market initiatives can create contacts with employers in sectors like the construction industry, thereby leading to employment. The jury appreciated and highlighted the “replicability of a ‘social’ public procurement”.

Est Métropole Habitat (EMH) in Villeurbanne, France aimed through ‘Making new consumption patterns affordable in social housing’ at ensuring a fair social functioning in the neighbourhoods and buildings as well as to increase the attractiveness of these areas, thereby contributing to the self-esteem of their inhabitants. The four targeted neighbourhoods are within urban renewal areas and concentrate strong indicators of poverty and isolation with a high proportion of single-parent families and an ageing population.

Environmental Sustainability

‘An innovative coupling to tackle energy precariousness’ was the contribution of ICF Habitat La Sablière from Paris to the emission reduction potential of the building sector in France. The housing stock uses more than 40% of the total energy in the country and is responsible for 20% of the national greenhouse gas emissions, while older buildings with high-energy consumption represent more than 90% of France’s housing stock. The main idea behind the initiative is a domestic hot water production system, operated by a thermodynamic hybrid generator running on natural gas, consisting of four heat pumps with wasted heat recovery, coupled with two gas-fuelled mini-cogeneration units. This hybrid system leads to significant energy savings.

‘Klimaträtt’ stands for “climate friendly” in Swedish, literally translated it means “climate appropriate”. Uppsalahem in Uppsala, Sweden initiated the project with the main objective to provide help, support and inspiration for its tenants in their pursuit of a more climate friendly lifestyle. Klimaträtt is the first example where residents in an apartment building can receive detailed, weekly feedback on how accommodation, food, transportation and other consumption patterns affect their climate footprint.

The main idea behind ‘Öbo Climate Concept’ of ÖrebroBostäder from Örebro, Sweden was to guide the regular maintenance and renovation budget towards areas where measures on energy issues will produce the greatest energy savings. In this way, OBÖ aimed to save a lot of energy at a relatively low cost. The project is a comprehensive strategy to save energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions through different actions e.g. monitoring of the energy performance of construction contractors and builders. The concept is integrated into the city agenda, i.e. it is part of the “Örebro Climate change project”.

The ‘Renovation of 30 apartments in Zaramaga’ in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain is a part of VISESA and Basque Government strategy to improve the quality of life of citizens, while contributing to the local and regional strategies for reduction of energy use and CO2 emissions in the residential sector. The project led to a very impressive result of the energy renovation: from an initial “E” energy label, the building has progressed to an “A” energy performance level, while 67% of residents report a better standard of living after the renovation.

Habitat 62/59 Picardie from Coquelles, France initiated its project ‘Innovation and Sustainable Construction’ building up on its proactive effort to reduce its environmental footprint that had already started in 2006. A comprehensive strategy is implemented in various housing estates, using triple glazing, PV panels and renewable heat technologies in the renovation process. Tenant satisfaction surveys measure their perception of comfort and quality of life at home.

Good Governance and Fair Relations with Stakeholders

The core idea behind the ‘Big Conversation’ of the Shepherds Bush Housing Group in London, UK has been to ask residents to assess the service provided by SBHG, to inform service and business development and ensure robust resident-led governance. Now in its 10th year, Big Conversation sees all SBHG staff- from the chief executive to apprentices but excluding repairs operatives who visit homes daily- out visiting residents in their own homes. Each member of staff is personally responsible for following through any actions from the visits, helping them engage with the service.

Paris Habitat in Paris, France attempted to ‘involve the various stakeholders in the conversion of former military barracks’. The overall objective is to make better use of a vast area of almost 20,000 sq. m. that during the construction period will be rendered into a place for encounters, intergenerational exchanges between residents of the neighbourhood, animating the city and offering other cultural and social services for residents and Parisians. The project will be harmoniously integrated in the city, leaving the old barracks’ walls in place to reconnect with the life and identity of the district while preserving its exceptional, historic character.

The ‘Dialogue with the Habitat Stakeholders in order to build a strategic vision’ has been the aim of Société Dauphinoise pour l’Habitat (SDH) in Échirolles, France. The open and structured dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders including tenants, employees, suppliers, etc. concerning the future strategy of the company was boosted by a well-designed consultation process that allowed the contributors to play in the end of the day an important role. This contribution should facilitate the acceptance of trade -offs and implementation of action plans with stakeholders.

Helm Housing in Belfast, N.Ireland transformed ‘Hemsworth Court into a Dementia Friendly Community Hub’. The main objective has been to provide essential support services and create a comfortable living environment for those living with Dementia, by developing a world-class facility which meets the needs of those with dementia and their loved ones, and creating Belfast’s first dementia friendly community. Hemsworth promotes a person-centred facility that helps maintain independence, normalisation & social inclusion. While this project meets the needs of this specific area in Belfast, it could be replicated anywhere in Europe with the support of relevant partner organisations.

FSM in Melun, France developed a ‘Website for Corporate Governance’ as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) approach and its commitment to improve communication with its Board of Directors. While Intranets are usually “employee -oriented”, for the first time, in addition to the Intranet site for its employees, FSM is implementing a platform 100% dedicated to and designed for governance that facilitates the implementation of best decision making practices for administrators and shareholders.

Responsible Human Resources Management

‘Vocational Training was a key factor for successful integration of refugees’ for Gewobag in Berlin, Germany. Central goal of the project is the successful integration of refugees through the individual development of their vocational and professional qualifications. Learning the language is vital. With this project, Gewobag acknowledges its corporate social responsibility and at the same time, sets an example for other companies to follow. Therefore, transparent reports will be made available to the relevant committees, various networks and internal and external media. The recently launched integration project marks another stage in the conscious expansion of Gewobag’s strategy and guiding motto “die ganze Vielfalt Berlins”, in other words “All the Diversity of Berlin”.

Groupe 3F in Paris, France invested in the ‘Individual Operational Preparation for Employment (POEI)’. POEI is an innovative mechanism for the low-income housing sector and the caretaker profession in the Ile-de-France region. 3F is the region’s only social landlord to organise these training and recruitment programmes devoting part of its training budget to them. This system, undertaken in partnership with Pôle Emploi (French employment agency) and Afpols (training organisation), gives job seekers access to a nationally recognised certified training course and guarantees job offer within Groupe 3F.

Paris Habitat in Paris, France came up with the idea to ‘Recognize and Value Employees while also engaging them in the preservation of the Environment’. The recurring project “Talents of Paris Habitat” aims to pay tribute to artistic talent and improve relationships between employees. It brings together employees and organisations that do not usually work together. In 2016 objective of the initiative was to raise employee awareness about environment preservation from the perspective of consumer behaviour. It puts forward values related to the impact of waste management on state of the environment and well-being of future generations; the importance of improving biodiversity, quality of the air, water in cities and value added of these investments in terms of health and the quality of life overall.

‘Responsibility and Leadership in Safety and Health in Construction Works’ was the priority for VISESA in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. The organization supervises and supports the work on site of the coordinator through their own human resources, getting involved with the workers through the protection of labour rights, contributing to the reduction of the accident rate in the sector, leading in this change of role of the developer in safety and labour rights. The Jury underlined the “significant reduction in work accidents rate, which means that construction workers’ awareness is effectively raised”.

Habitat 62/59 Picardie in Coquelles, France submitted a project that focused on the ‘Well-being and Fitness of Colleagues’. The organization has decided to introduce specific measures aimed at enhancing their quality of life, helping them improve stress management. The measures increase motivation and contribute to reducing absenteeism and sick leave, in particular. At the same time the organisation’s initiative boosts social cohesion and reinforces team spirit and interpersonal relationships between staff and management.

Who are going to be the winners? Follow the Award Ceremony on Wednesday, 23 November on Twitter #csrhousing to find out! But beyond winning the European Responsible Housing Awards illustrate again thanks to the wealth and diversity of the projects submitted that responsible housing is the response to the complex housing challenges of our times.