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Social housing associations tackle the energy poverty challenge

Energy efficiency project development under Horizon 2020

Brussels, 1 March 2016 | Published in Energy

For the first time under Horizon 2020 Energy Efficiency, social housing companies engage in project development.

Several projects supported under H2020 address energy poverty through low cost measures that focus on behavioural change, and some of them target social housing either through energy saving measures for new buildings or through refurbishment with energy performance contracting models.

Although there is still no universally agreed definition for the concept of energy poverty, it is often defined as a situation where individuals are not able to adequately heat, or provide other required energy services in their homes, at affordable cost.

Projects from the refurbishment/construction sector:

Engaging social housing companies in building renovation-For the first time under H2020 Energy Efficiency, social housing companies engage in two project development assistance projects. This opens substantial opportunities for energy refurbishment, capitalising on the large building portfolios of such organisations.

Project development assistance is a process supporting the preparation of and mobilisation of financing for bankable, sustainable energy projects, and which covers costs of the technical support necessary to prepare, implement and finance the investment programme. As such, feasibility and market studies, structuring of programmes, business plans, energy audits, and preparation for tendering procedures are supported with European grants.

The two projects will be implemented in Italy, LEMON in the Emilia Romagna Region and EnerSHIFT in Liguria.

LEMON will launch over 15 million € of energy investments in more than 600 private and public social housing dwellings to achieve 40% energy savings guaranteed by ESCOs. The envisaged financing structure involves a combination of national and ERDF funds, the "Conto termico" incentive scheme, as well as EPC and loans to be repaid. In some cases it will be within the framework of "Energy Performance Tenancy Agreements", which will be developed specifically for the project.

EnerSHIFT aims at launching 14,59 million € of energy investments with the retrofitting of around 43 social housing buildings.

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Sharing best practices and guidance

AFTER and SHELTER are two completed projects which involved Social Housing Organisations (SHOs). AFTER, which ran in France, Slovenia, Italy, Denmark, Czech Republic and Germany, made a classification of energy saving measures and methods for integration in the asset/facility management of SHOs.  At the end of the project measures were implemented in over 820 dwellings, contributing to almost 500 toe/yr of energy savings and resulting in methods and guidance readily available for uptake and replication by SHOs across Europe.

SHELTER, which ran in Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, investigated approaches to harmonisation of the work of different members of the construction team i.e., architect, building services engineer and contractors, in order to integrate energy auditing. Taking into consideration energy saving measures at the construction stage in turn saves time, money and avoids future problems. It resulted in a best practice manual that has been taken up by six SHOs and it has directly lead to over 500 toe/yr of energy savings.