drOp had the chance to take part in the Tech Camp event, organised as part of the International Social Housing Festival 2023, in Barcelona this past June.
At the start of the session, Martin Willemart, Policy Officer within European
Commission’s DG GROW, introduced the Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI). It
was launched along the Renovation Wave, with the objective to support 100
lighthouse renovation districts by 2030. What is important to underline is that it
goes beyond the scope of social housing, with the focus being at the
The strength of AHI shows thanks to the fact that it works on several levels. It
encourages EU-level cross-sectorial partnerships; it channels the necessary
resources to foster innovation and experimentation (drOp, ProLight or
SUPERSHINE being a few examples); and it supports social innovation, through
events such as the European Social Innovation Competition (EUSIC).
Sorcha Edwards, Housing Europe’s Secretary General, saluted this type of
initiative as usually the institutions tend to work in Brussels in silos. Through the
European Affordable Housing Consortium (SHAPE-EU) project, Housing Europe
was tasked by the EC to put together some guidelines of the initiatives that
succeeded, so that others could become inspired to act too.
Three sister projects came on the stage to explain by concrete examples what
AHI means. Naia Merino, the coordinator of the drOp project and representative of the Ermua Municipality was the first one to take the floor. The main goal of
the project is to develop an Integrated Renovation Methodology, that aims to
transform social housing districts into inclusive smart neighbourhoods. The work
of the project will be organised on three main levels: strategic, divided into the
diagnosing and planning stages; design, which will focus on prioritisation and
project design; and intervention, where there will be an intervention plan and
assessment. To achieve this, citizens engagement will be an essential dimension.
Momir Tabakovic, from the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien,
presented the ProLight project. It aims to test a standardised approach in six
demo sites and energy communities, which will act as incubators of
technological, social, regulatory, and market solutions. ProLight will identify
methodologies able to foster European lighthouse and pocket districts.
Innovation clusters will be created through empirical analysis of districts in
Austria, Finland, Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal. Lastly, at the end of the
project blueprints for renovation will be provided and energy and climate-aware
communities will be created. Citizens engagement will once again be a central
Paola Zerilli, from the University of York, gave a brief insight on the evolution of
the Super-I project: its aims is to provide a significant contribution towards
generating investments and collecting data on energy efficiency refurbishment
in the social housing sector. She put forward the case of the Italian pilot,
comprising two social housing developments, with 251 units to be extensively
renovated, with another 128 to be demolished and rebuilt. In terms of funding,
the social housing provider will be responsible for covering the investment costs,
collaborating with financial institutions, or using government loans.
Riccardo Coletta, from APRE, intervened in order to complement the
presentation with the angle of the SUPERSHINE project. As part of its general
objectives, the project will analyse the financial situation of three lighthouses
situated in Denmark, Italy and Latvia; will support innovative financial solutions
such as Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) or Green Public Procurement (GPP);
and will provide tools to support local SMEs in redefining the process of their
products and systems from the point of view of design, production, logistic and
business models by adopting technologies, ultimately to address essential needs
of social housing residents.
For more information, we invite you to read the accounts of the Tech Camp and the full report of the International Social Housing Festival.