The biggest event on efficient energy use in Europe, the EU Sustainable Energy Week 2021 gave the floor to Housing Europe, our partners and European projects six times to put forward the view of the social and affordable housing sector.
Starting with the most recent one, on 27th October, our Secretary General Sorcha Edwards discussed the latest developments and implementation of the Renovation Wave and the upcoming in December Energy performance of buildings directive (EPBD) which will be crucial for our work. Highlighting the diversity of approaches we need to take, she said that 'if we talk for example about minimum energy performance standards (MEPS), there is need to take into account that we have very different climatic conditions, typology of buildings and need for flexibility in that approach to allow those on the ground to meet targets.' She also added that 'cost versus benefits of renovation a small number of buildings from B to A versus a large number from D to C with optimal decarbonisation should be considered.' Referring to the essential role of finance Sorcha Edwards stressed that 'ear-marking of financing at EU level for energy efficiency in buildings would bring us a step further as we now see a huge divergence in the uptake of finance and a gap between what can be used and what is being foreseen for instance in the Recovery Plans.'
On the same day, Thijs van den Oord from Area Wonen who is in charge of the Dutch demo of our Horizon2020 syn.ikia project explained how 24 out of 39 flats will be rented out as social homes and be part of a Sustainable Plus Energy Neighbourhood.
A day before, on 26th October, our partner from Latvia, EkuBirojs shared its know-how on the journey to inclusive transparent renovation, going through four key phases: understand, imagine, build, optimise and monitor.
Many social housing estates are surrounded by amenity landscape. However, we seldomly look at our own building envelopes – not only for the potential value of the incorporating amenities, but also to reduce the carbon footprint. Housing Europe's Innovation and Project Manager, João Gonçalves tuned in on 19th October to share how this has been done by the social housing sector. The aesthetic value is becoming of great importance for social housing providers, what is more, green roofs can have a positive effect on people’s health. 'We need blueprints on how social housing can be retrofitted with green covers - advice, good practice case studies and guidelines in procurement are essential', João Gonçalves said.
Urban regeneration has and will continue to have a central role in European energy policies. And to guide them, it is necessary to draw on success stories. Our Policy Director, Julien Dijol pointed out that only social and affordable housing providers can deliver a systemic, district and socially sustainable approach when homes are being renovated and whole neighbourhoods regenerated. He added: "The Affordable Housing Initiative has to be all about lighthouse, exemplary green renovation, steering the Renovation Wave and the New European Bauhaus and materialising into real low-carbon and social projects on the ground."
Finally, on 14th October, the Secretary General of Housing Europe, Sorcha Edwards stated that we have to blend finance, best practice and regulation to scale up renovation, remembering that taking a district approach, offering trusted information through one-stop-shops and adopting a holistic view will be decisive for the success of renovations.