Mutual learning for greener social housing

Involving partners from Croatia, Estonia, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden, the Social Green project is improving regional policy instruments for cutting greenhouse gas emissions from social housing and tackling fuel poverty. It has started an interregional cooperation and learning process to identify, share and transfer methods of formulating and implementing green social housing policies. These relate to both construction of new dwellings and retrofitting of existing buildings.

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Social housing in Alba Iulia, Romania ©Dana Maria Naghiu, 2018 Social housing in Alba Iulia, Romania ©Dana Maria Naghiu, 2018

" “The activities carried out thanks to Social Green represent an important capacity-building mechanism for our institution. The insights gained from interacting with five other EU regions that face a common low-carbon economy challenge result in valuable lessons and increased practical knowledge regarding the greening of social housing. We consider that this type of interregional learning brings significant added value to our policy design and implementation activities, including structural funds management.” "

Ester Silva, vice-president, Norte Regional Coordination and Development Commission, Portugal

Social Green is split into two phases, with the interregional learning process in phase one. This comprises study visits, good practice workshops, local stakeholder meetings and dissemination events. Within the process, participating regions draw up self-assessment reports, good practice guides and plans for regional authorities.

Phase two entails monitoring the implementation of the plans and promoting the continued learning and accomplishments of local and regional partners.

Emission reduction potential

Buildings account for 40 % of Europe’s energy consumption and some 36 % of its CO2 emissions. Greening of the social housing sector, including by speeding up energy retrofitting, could play a big part in achieving EU CO2 reduction targets.

Social Green wants to improve understanding of the role of green interventions in the sector, particularly in terms of their impact on fuel poverty, in order to identify appropriate energy efficiency and renewable energy measures. These measures can be introduced into EU regional policy instruments, with each partner addressing an instrument applicable to their region.

Barriers to greening of social housing have been discussed within the project consortium and with local stakeholder groups, both in general terms and in relation to specific policy instruments. Details of examples identified have been published in two technical articles, a popular article and a policy recommendation report.

The partners have pinpointed actions for inclusion in the plans, some of which solely involve knowledge transfer, while others require adaptation to local conditions. These actions have the potential to boost energy retrofitting of social housing and improve tenants’ quality of life, without placing extra financial burdens on them, thereby helping people living in, or at risk of, fuel poverty.

Good practices

Identification and sharing of good practices has given the partners a chance to reflect on cases from their own regions and to learn from others. Study visits to sites in countries including Croatia, Estonia and Romania enabled them to observe such practices in action, leading to further knowledge transfer both among the partners and to local stakeholders.

Each partner has proposed at least four practices for evaluation within the consortium. Information on 13 of them has been published on the project website. One example is Sõpruse 202 from Tallinn, Estonia, which uses an innovative scheme to finance retrofits that cut energy consumption by 60 % without increasing costs for residents. Another is an energy retrofit of a densely populated district of Porto, Portugal affected by numerous social problems, which has improved quality of life for some 7 500 people. A third is the provision of three new blocks of resource-efficient social housing in Alba Iulia, Romania. This is for people who lost their homes during the post-communist transition, when property seized under the communist regime was returned to its former owners.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Social Green – Regional Policies towards Greening the Social Housing Sector” is EUR 1 188 765, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 998 532 through the “INTERREG EUROPE” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. In the investment falls under the priority “Low-carbon economy”.

 

Draft date

22/05/2019