Replicating the one-stop-shop model – the last conference of the Opengela project at the Renovation Summit06-12-2022
At the Renovation Summit in Brussels on the 17th of November, the EU-funded project Opengela held its final event, titled ‘The power of One-Stop-Shops’ which was joined by the delegate of the Basque Government in Brussels, Marta Marín, as well as the director of Territorial Planning and Urban Agenda, Ignacio de la Puerta, who heads the project consortium. Txari Vallejo (Bilbao Municipal Housing) and Ibon Irazola (Debegesa) also took part to explain the development of the two pilot projects in the Otxarkoaga (Bilbao) and Txonta (Eibar) neighborhoods.
Opengela is driven by the Basque Government with the goal to improve the quality of life in cities through urban regeneration and district-level renovations targeting social housing and vulnerable households. The Opengela project was all about the creation of neighbourhood offices, as integrated home renovation One-Stop-Shops for vulnerable districts, that provide advice and support to the community through the whole process of renovation of their apartment buildings.
Successful results for district-level renovations of vulnerable districts
The project concluded successfully, with a new urban regeneration of 10 neighbourhoods in the Basque Country and other 14 neighbourhoods that are in the early stages of implementation. Opengela accompanied nearly 800 people in the refurbishment of their buildings. So far it has led to the renovation of 469 buildings, an average energy saving per dwelling of more than 60%, an investment in sustainable energy of 9.6 million euros, a saving in CO2 emissions of 758 t/year, as well as mobilising private investment of 3.2 million euros. Today, additional 283 buildings are being renovated, while 1050 buildings are upcoming to be renovated, for a total pipeline of 1.802 dwellings. Next interventions are planned in 12 new neighbourhoods of the Basque Country for a total of 2774 future dwellings.
In three and a half years, it has set up neighbourhood offices in 10 cities: Otxarkoaga (Bilbao) and Txonta (Eibar) and in Durango, Lasarte, Pasaia, Abanto-Zierbena, Santurtzi, Valle de Trápaga, Orduña and Amurrio.
Opengela as a good practice and synergies with the European Affordable Housing Consortium, SHAPE-EU
Opengela has proved that renovation can be for anyone and everywhere, inspiring more cities and regions to follow.
As Ignacio de la Puerta explained, the experience gained with the Opengela project, in addition to improving the quality of life of residents, ”has enabled the development of a new management model that can be extended to the rest of the Basque Country with the objectives of reducing the risk of energy poverty among citizens, creating zero energy balance and friendly neighbourhoods with universal accessibility in the building stock and in urban environments and that can become carbon sinks in a significant contribution to mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change”.
At the European level, in addition to having shared experiences with many other One-Stop-Shops in France (Picardie-Pass and Île-de-France énergies), Ireland (Tipperary-SuperHomes), Italy (Sharing Cities – Milan) and Austria (RecoBooster – Vienna), it has also generated interest in other places to implement this model of urban regeneration. This is the case of two regions in Croatia (on the one hand, Medjimurje, and on the other, the counties of Varazdin, Koprivnica-Krizevci and Virovitica-Podravina), one in Poland (Mazovia), one in Greece (Thessaloniki), as well as Extremadura and Asturias, and an Irish entity implemented in three counties (Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford). All of them have visited the pilot neighbourhoods of Opengela with the idea of replicating the model.
Moreover, Opengela is a great example of public-private collaboration. The partnership is constituted by different public entities, in addition to the Basque Government, such as the Basque Energy Agency (EVE), Bilbao Municipal Housing and Debegesa, as well as two European-level bodies (FEDARENE and Housing Europe) and the private sectors represented by three firms specialising in financing (GNE Finance), communication (Gabineteseis) and European affairs (Zabala).
Throughout the years, Opengela’s model has become an inspiring practice for others to follow when aiming to achieve urban regeneration through district-level renovations, social and affordable housing renovations, and social impact. The European Affordable Housing Consortium, SHAPE-EU will build upon this great experience to further continue the path of achieving the decarbonisation of the EU for a more sustainable and inclusive future.
Opengela’s innovative financing model
A key aspect of the Opengela model is the funding solution that has been developed by GNE Finance, partner of the project consortium.
Opengela’s financial solution has facilitated funding through a specific system of the Opengela model, aimed primarily at serving people at risk of vulnerability and aiming at ensuring affordable housing renovations to all, as well as targeting social housing. Among the key measures adopted to facilitate the financing, there are: i) the creation of a line of credit to finance public aid, eliminating the treasury tension generated by the aid, with a loan with no capital (the instalments only include interest, not amortisation), where the credits last for two years and are settled at the time of payment of the aid; ii) financing for Communities of Owners, serving vulnerable environments and through the support of Opengela Social Support Scheme; iii) fixed rate loan at 6.50%, in the current political-economic environment; iv) extension of the age limit for accessing the loan, allowing access to financing up to 70 years; and v) offer of ‘Anti-crisis Contracts’ for rental housing to deal with financing.
GNE Finance has worked on Opengela financial model to maximise affordable financing, as long-term financing, integrating subsidies and rebates to make it accessible to all citizens and smart funding, creating a risk-sharing facility to enable vulnerable groups to access long-term financing, thus facilitating equitable energy transition.
GNE Finance expertise will contribute to the objectives of the European Affordable Housing Consortium to attract investment to fund lighthouse renovation districts and develop a digital tool that will guide local industry partners to existing public or private funding sources for their renovation projects at the district level.
Find out more about the Opengela project at https://opengela.eus/en