The much-awaited Renovation Wave Strategy of the European Commission has proved that the global health pandemic can be an opportunity to build back a green, fair society where everybody can feel safe and warm.
The proposal to have a European Affordable Housing Initiative that sets up “100 lighthouse renovation districts in a smart neighbourhood approach and provide blueprints for replication, setting liveability and latest innovations at the forefront”, truly motivates public, cooperative and social housing providers – represented by Housing Europe – to provide homes where people can thrive, feel and live a full life in all its potential. Our members have an extensive experience with working in partnership on innovative Horizon 2020 projects that help for reaching new frontiers in the sector and are enthusiastic about empowering tenants and residents. Ideally, Housing Europe would like to see these pilot projects be an inspiration for action elsewhere.
The plan to make European homes more sustainable is a true social transition and our Federation is pleased to see that key EU principles, such as energy efficiency first, affordability, decarbonisation, circularity, health, digital economy, and innovative architecture, continue to be a priority. Rethinking, modernising people’s homes requires attention to what works on the ground and social, affordable housing providers can be the soundboard EU Member States would need.
We, at Housing Europe, take note of the proposal to include minimum energy performance standards within the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and would like to recall about the importance of channelling the necessary funding to avoid unintended consequences on affordability and citizens. We would like to ensure that minimum energy performance standards should not undermine existing requirements and obligations at the national level. Our member network, consisting of 43,000 housing providers in 25 countries, remains ready to work with the European Commission ahead of the revision of the Directive to ensure that any new obligation in relation to energy performance will be properly designed and flexible enough to achieve common goals.
The strategy’s effort to simplify access to EU funds for renovation by strengthening the ELENA facility as well as the role of the EIB in more easily combining technical assistance, project development assistance, loans and grants as a single package is a key step forward.
The social, cooperative and public housing sector has proved to be a ‘first mover’ in providing sustainable and social transition. Today, Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, said that the Renovation Wave will be “a game changer for home-owners, tenants and public authorities” and social, affordable housing providers are ready to embark on a long collaboration to make that happen.