How can we leverage the resources and learnings from recent years in Europe to achieve a fair, shared, and affordable energy transition for all citizens?


On September 18 and 19 in Vienna, the Affordable Housing Initiative Bootcamp was held as part of the European Affordable Housing Consortium, the SHAPE-EU project, featuring three learning sessions to address energy renovation within the framework of affordable district housing. These three areas correspond to the three modules developed by the Consortium, addressing three fundamental questions: what should be considered when implementing a district-level renovation project? (drafted by GNE); how to engage and consider society in facing an energy renovation? (drafted by TU Delf); and what technical solutions can be applied at the building level to facilitate project scalability? (drafted by ECTP).

In these three sessions, the need for a just energy transition was emphasized, where all citizens feel included, both in decision-making and in benefiting from it. Various examples were presented, such as the Smart City project by Smarter Together in Vienna, Zero Carbon Refurbishment in Salzburg, the social cohesion program in Vienna, the development of a One-stop-shop by the Vilnius city council, the industrialization process as a scalability technique by Energiesprong, and the use of digital tools for citizen engagement in urban development.

Real-life examples have the ability to reshape both individual and collective perceptions, opening up new avenues of possibility in our immediate environment. OPENGELA is one such one-stop-shop example developed within a European project in the Basque Country, and it stands as one of the ‘Good Practices’ documented in the Best Practices handbook. The ‘opengelas’ of the two pilots have accompanied nearly 800 people in the rehabilitation of their buildings. So far, an average energy savings per household of over 60% has been achieved, with an investment in sustainable energy of 9.6 million euros, and a reduction of 758 tons of CO2 emissions per year, in addition to mobilizing private investment of 3.2 million euros. It was focused on two vulnerable neighbourhoods, targeting a low-income social profile. The success of this pilot has led the Basque Government, this year within the framework of a LIFE project, to lead BIRTUOSS, which would be the second phase of OPENGELA. There’s a significant shift in the target profile—it’s no longer exclusively aimed at assisting vulnerable profiles but extends its support to the general citizenry. The objective is to establish various offices throughout the Basque Country, replicate the success of OPENGELA, and create a business model that makes it sustainable on its own. The energy renovation market is crucial for decarbonizing our buildings. The maturity of this market in many parts of Europe is still unclear, which is why projects of this nature are important to follow and understand. GNE Finance, a partner of the European Affordable Housing Consortium, was a part of OPENGELA and continues to be in this second phase with BIRTUOSS.

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