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Social housing in Spain, advancing innovation in energy efficiency

Read more about Fondo, the neighbourhood in Santa Coloma de Gramenet near Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain, 29 April 2024 | Published in Energy, Research

In April, Housing Europe travelled to Barcelona to meet partners of syn.ikia - the EU-funded Horizon project that aims to scale up the model of Sustainable Plua Energy Neighbourhoods (SPEN), based on energy efficiency and social sustainability.

Three of the four demos focus on public or social housing. In Austria, awareness events have sparked interest in sharing consumption data to understand climate impact. In the Spanish demo, an energy manager optimises heating, handles tenant invoicing, and maintains the building and energy system. The Dutch demo's approach, appointing tenant ambassadors to guide residents in SPEN living, shows promise by fostering continuous housing provider-resident communication. 
Housing Europe co-organised an event on public, social, and cooperative housing in decarbonisation. Syn.ikia project coordinator, Niki Gaitani emphasised neighbourhood approaches and social cohesion. Housing Europe's Policy Director Julien Dijol discussed the affordable, available, sustainable housing trilemma, noting how public financial support' could boost the potential of the sector.
Spanish public housing association AVS's Jose Maria Escolastico stressed the urgency of treating housing as a human right, citing the Housing Europe manifesto. With Spain needing 1.2 million homes by 2030, he emphasised the need for change to address housing challenges. In a panel discussion, moderated by Housing Europe's Innovation and Project Officer Clara Mafé, we heard that tenants should be involved in the renovation process to give them a feeling of belonging. 
A study visit was organised in the Fondo neighbourhood, to discover the new demo building. There, the common space takes central stage, but residents can choose the degree of showing themselves and their space to the community. Successful completion of this energy-efficient project relied on collaboration between the municipality, social housing provider, and contractors. When asked about future projects, the consensus was a definite yes, with a commitment to apply lessons learned. Understanding both, the physical and social environments was identified as the key to success. The monitoring phase will begin once the tenants move in, with more results available in the coming months. Read the full article here.

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