New nursery paves the way for passive-energy district buildings

A district nursery recently opened in Schaerbeek offers 48 places to children up to three years of age. Meeting an urgent local need for childcare, this modern public facility can pride itself on being the first in its district to be constructed to passive-energy consumption standards.

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Etoile du Nord, new passive energy nursery built in Schaerbeek, Brussels.  © T. Brisco Etoile du Nord, new passive energy nursery built in Schaerbeek, Brussels. © T. Brisco

" Etoile du Nord is an exemplary district nursery for Schaerbeek, as it was our first municipal building to be constructed according to passive-energy standards. "

Gaetano Termine, Head of Cabinet for Councillor Michel De Herde, Schaerbeek commune, Brussels

Etoile du Nord was opened in December 2011 in the Gaucheret quarter, where childcare places were in particularly short supply. At the time, through its existing 12 nurseries, the district of Schaerbeek was able to cover less than 20 % of the demand for such places.

Constructed on two levels with a total area of 850 metres2, the new facility serves as both a nursery (48 places) and drop-in centre (eight places). Drop-in centres like this are becoming increasingly popular in Brussels. They allow parents to leave their young children for short periods or just when required, compared to the full weekday care period of 7.00 to 17.00. As a result, parents have more time to take up local employment or training opportunities.

A passive-energy pioneer

The construction of Etoile du Nord was overseen by an architectural firm that had won a tender put out by Brussels-Environnement-IBGE, the public service agency responsible for the environment and energy at the Brussels-Capital Region. As a result, the nursery fully meets the agency’s standards for passive energy and eco-construction.

It is also in line with Schaerbeek district’s first Climate Plan, which aimed to reduce by 30 % the energy consumption of local public buildings by 2012 as well as to cut local greenhouse gas emissions. Etoile du Nord clearly set a good example in the district, as a further two passive-energy nurseries have since been built there.

Thanks to the implementation of this project, Etoile du Nord has led to the creation of around 10 full-time equivalent jobs.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Crèche du quartier Gaucheret ‘Etoile du Nord’” is EUR 2 674 093, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 1 337 046 from the Operational Programme “Brussels Capital Region” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

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