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Housing and the Environmental Sustainability

Within the framework of the European Responsible Housing Initiative (ERHIN)

Brussels, 19 September 2014 | Energy

In the third part of our blog series on the notion of "responsible housing in Europe", we focus on the role of environmental sustainability.

Three representatives from a total of five projects that made it as finalists in this category of the first edition of the European Responsible Housing Awards 2014 to share their views around the importance of environmental sustainability. Is there a secret recipe?

FSM, Melun France

“Promoting environmentally friendly building sites”

FSM defined its first CSR policy in 2007 was accredited ISO 14 001 in 2010. Strongly committed to environmental sustainability, we seek to achieve the highest environmental standards in our housing stock. Reducing our environmental footprint implies minimizing the impacts of building sites during construction / renovation works – which goes hand in hand with limiting risks for workers and nuisance on residents.

As per CSR principles, our environmental goals should however be balanced with social and economic considerations, such as supporting local small and medium-sized enterprises. High environmental ambition should not result in excluding smaller enterprises. On the contrary, as a socially responsible company, we should help them strengthen their capacity to meet these expectations and embed sustainable practices in their own processes.

This is precisely the philosophy beyond our “Green kit” and “Green building site” procedure, developed over the last few years to improve building sites’ management. 

SDH, Échirolles Cedex France 

“An ambitious and large scale thermal retrofitting program”

Energy efficiency is obviously a key challenge when talking about environmental sustainability in the housing sector; it also directly affects residents’ overall housing costs, through their energy bills. It is therefore at the core of SDH environmental strategy. Our thermal refurbishment project in Echirolles’ Village 2 district aimed to avoid a “two-tier” housing stock within a same neighborhood –with brand new, energy efficient dwellings contrasting with an older, energy-consuming stock. 

Covering a total of 642 dwellings, this outstanding project did not only lead to impressive results in terms of energy performance, with a 65% decrease in energy consumption (from 215 KWh/m² to 75 kWh/m²); it is also exemplary of what can be achieved through successful cooperation with the municipality, tenants and their representatives.

Our agreement signed with the local tenant association, our strong partnership with the municipality of Echirolles and regular coordination meetings all throughout the project helped ensure its smooth implementation and find solutions that were acceptable to all. We also worked together on an awareness-raising campaign for residents, to help spread energy-saving tips and encourage “environmentally-friendly” behaviors, for a greater and long-lasting impact.

Liverpool Mutual Homes (LMH), UK

"Close collaboration with tenants and stakeholders"

LMH’s consistent implementation of Environmental best practice is closely aligned to the European Commission’s CSR strategy. As a leading UK social housing provider we embrace sustainability and the notion of ‘responsible housing’ to create thriving and healthy local communities.

Our approach involves collaborating closely with our tenants and stakeholders and integrating social, environmental, ethical and human rights into our day-to-day operation. We have invested £250million in energy-efficient sustainable homes over 5 years and we also focus on alleviating fuel poverty, job creation, minimising waste and carbon emissions and reducing water usage. This has been instrumental in LMH receiving ISO14001 accreditation.

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