Social, cooperative and public housing providers in Europe own and manage 12% of the housing stock. The POWER HOUSE nearly-Zero Energy Challenge, led by CECODHAS Housing Europe, seeks to build capacity and confidence amongst these providers ahead of the requirement that in 2020 all new buildings should be nearly-Zero in terms of their energy consumption and any energy required sourced from renewable supplies.
These providers have a key role to play in ensuring the actual delivery of these requirements, not only in terms of their new construction, but also in the retrofitting of their existing stock to reduce its carbon emissions. Seventy percent of the dwelling stock in 2050 is already built, and much of it is highly wasteful of energy.
The nearly-Zero Energy Challenge will work in four key areas identified earlier as of key importance – Cold/Continental climates, Warm/Mediterranean climates, Divided/Cooperative ownership of dwellings and critically, the capacity to finance nearly-Zero energy dwellings.
Social housing providers typically provide a range of services and support to their residents who are often drawn from amongst the most vulnerable and marginalised groups in society. They are particularly concerned that the transition to nearly-zero energy is a fair and equitable one for both current and future residents – that rent should not become unaffordable after improvements, that levels of new home building should not be reduced and policies and funding should help those who experience fuel poverty.
A review of the progress to date in the ten countries participating in the project has shown that experience varies widely between Member States. Only Austria and Germany have developed a significant number of nZEB dwellings, Sweden has a certain number of low-energy dwellings but most of the other countries have only a handful, most of which have been developed as demonstration projects.
Individual Member States are required to establish their own definition of nearly-zero, as well as their strategy for approaching the 2020 target. To date, not all Member States involved in the project have established a formal definition of nearly-zero or the associated strategy or roadmap to reach it.