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What is needed to strengthen the renovation efforts within the social, cooperative and public housing sector

Our position regarding the EU 'Renovation Wave'

Brussels, 8 May 2020 | Published in Energy

Social, cooperative and public housing providers are already frontrunners in the fair energy transition: the average energy performance of their homes is better than in any other segment of the housing market and they cater for most of the low-income families thus ensuring comfort at an affordable price. Fundamentally, social, cooperative and public housing providers’ main objective for the renovation wave and the fair energy transition is to create and maintain sustainable communities with a high level of quality of life and an affordable cost of living.

"The Green Deal needs to be about values, about resilient communities, turning no-go areas into places people are proud to live in. Restoring dignity to those living in fuel poverty. Providing decent affordable homes in places where people can reach their full potential. This is what we do and this is why we welcome the EC's recognition of our crucial role in a project which will determine our common future."

Housing Europe Président, Cédric Van Styvendael

Before the Covid-19 crisis, Social, cooperative and public housing providers intended to spend yearly 35bio€ for new buildings and 23bio€ for renovation and maintenance, thus renovating about 400 000 housing units every year. In order to renovate the entire social, cooperative and public housing stock in Europe by 2050 at average level B (60 to 120 kwh/m²/year) or A (below 50kwh/m²/year), thus contributing to the decarbonization of the building stock and a CO2 neutral Europe, we would need to increase this number by at least 200 000 per year. This would require an extra 10bio€ yearly until 2050.

The Renovation Wave initiative announced by the European Commission as part of the EU green deal can help social, cooperative and public housing providers pursue this trend. The following points are however necessary to make the renovation wave successful:

1. Area-based decarbonization strategies combining renovation of buildings, improvement of local energy systems (such as district heating) and involvement of residents

  • The objectives are:

- to tap into potential local energy resources (including through self-consumption of renewable energies)

- ensure more effective C02 reduction at district level using urban regeneration programmes as a catalyst for local sustainable development

- ensure social acceptance of residents (including private homeowners) through increasing quality of life and maintaining an affordable cost of living

  • What we need from the EU:

- help member states implement the current EU energy legislation in order to promote area-based decarbonization strategies

- ensure legal coherence and stability within the EPBD and the EED by integration the consideration of CO2 emissions at district level as a control indicator of the success of decarbonization strategy

- ensure specific support for social, cooperative and public housing providers when they have to provide one stop shops for the renovation of deprived neighbourhoods (including with private homeowners)

2. More efficient partnerships with the construction sector to  create local supply chains for low carbon renovations

  • The objectives are :

- To support and train suppliers to develop new material for renovation (including using reused/recycled material)

- To reach critical mass for renovation to allow the use of industrialisation practices at affordable cost

-  To develop comprehensive renovation processes including guarantee of energy performance

-  To incentivize suppliers to build up the necessary skills

  • What we need from the EU?

- To dedicate sufficient funding from the Horizon Europe programme to support development of new materials and new technical solutions within the SMEs in the construction sector in order to propose affordable renovation and decarbonization strategies

-To promote within the EU procurement rules (and if necessary, revise them) schemes that allow for long-term corporation, the bundling of volumes, and (upfront) dialogue with suppliers

3. Ready-to-use concepts and models of technological solutions that encompass global sustainability requirements and allow for rapid implementation (such as modular housing, circular building design, etc.)

  • The objectives are:

- to use construction and renovation materials with low carbon content

- to integrate adaptable components during the renovation process

- To incentivize further industrialisation, standardisation and up scaling of production capacity (in terms of staff and material availability) in the construction sector

  • What we need from the EU:

- a EU catalogue of concepts and models provided by construction/renovation companies wherein social, cooperative and public housing companies can choose the best solutions adapted to the local circumstances (see for instance : the serielles Bauen concept in Germany – for new buildings)

- To develop an European market of construction products and building installations

4. Public funding to help go the extra mile

  • The objectives are:

- to compensate for the extra costs linked to decarbonization and circular economy strategies

- to ensure a fair energy transition in particular for low-income households through creating and maintaining high quality of life and an affordable cost of living

  • What we need from the EU:

- incentives for Member States to further invest in general affordable housing policies supporting social, cooperative and public housing providers

- incentives for regional authorities to use ERDF, ESF and the Just Transition Fund to support area-based decarbonization strategies (including also circular economy principle)

- ensure the EIB will have a flexible approach in supporting NZEBs within a wider area-based decarbonization strategy

5. Investment security in post COVID 19 times

  • The objectives are:

- To maintain the local supply chain for renovation of affordable homes

- To strengthen the sustainable investments within the social, cooperative and public housing sector, while increase the speed and ambition of decarbonization strategies

  • What we need from the EU

- To maintain a stable regulatory field (in terms of energy standards for instance) that provides long term visibility and security for investment decision.

- To cater for possible liquidity problems within the construction sector by allowing a more flexible use of EU funds (in line with the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative ) and EIB loans as well as adapted public procurement rules (to avoid to penalize housing providers and contractors who face issues related to the covid-19 crisis).