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Agree at the Opengela Final Conference

On 17 November, Agree presented its model for energy retrofitting and to improve accessibility at the final conference of this European project.


An Agree delegation at the Committee of the Regions, in Brussels, reported on the work carried out during a session entitled “The Power of One-Stop-Shops” and organised by the Opengela project.

The Delegate of the Basque Government in Brussels, Marta Marín, took part in the project’s final conference, along with the Director of Territorial Planning and Urban Agenda, Ignacio de la Puerta, who led the Opengala consortium. Txari Vallejo (Bilbao Municipal Housing) and Esther Zarrabeitia (Debegesa) were there to explain the deployment of the two pilot schemes in the Otxarkoaga (Bilbao) and Txonta (Eibar) neighbourhoods.

In turn, Agree participated in the showcasing of examples of best practices, which also included ComAct (an urban regeneration project in different countries of Eastern Europe) and Renowatt (project in the Belgian region of Wallonia). Julien Dijol (from Housing Europe, the European association for social housing and also an Opengela partner) and Amélie Ancelle (from Energy-Cities, the European group of cities for sustainable energy) spoke in the second part of the day.

The session brought this European project to a close, after meeting the initially set targets and ensuring its continuity with the creation of a replicable and robust model.

For three years, Opengela has worked on urban regenerations by means of one-stop-shop projects in service offces, which simplify the building retrofitting processes. This initiative has also been backed by the Basque Government and by the EU Horizon 2020 financing programme.

A total of 780 people were assisted in their neighbourhood offices during those pilot projects, especially aimed at improving the life of people in vulnerable situations. Thanks to the mentoring of the administrative and technical staff, those people have embarked on process to retrofit their buildings, involving a total of 469 housing units. Thus, neighbourhood offices were set up in the Otxarkoaga (Bilbao) and Txonta (Eibar) pilot schemes, and also in Durango, Lasarte, Pasaia, Abanto-Zierbena, Santurtzi, Valle de Trápaga, Orduña and Amurrio.

The ‘opengelas’ have generated average energy savings per dwelling of over 60%, with an investment in sustainable energy of €9.6 million and 758 t/year of CO2 emissions saved. They have also leveraged private investment of €3.2 million.

As Ignacio de la Puerta stressed, this management model “could be extended to the rest of the Basque Country, with the goals of reducing the risk of citizens being in energy poverty, creating neighbourhoods with zero energy balance and that are friendly with universal accessibility in the building stock and in the urban environment, and which can become carbon sinks as a significant contribution to the mitigation and adaption to the effects of climate change”.

On the other hand, as regards replicating the project, there are a further 14 neighbourhoods in the Basque Country that are in the initial implementation phasees. Other autonomous communities, such as Asturias and Extremadura, have visited the pilot neighbourhoods. In Europe, apart from sharing experiences with many other “One-Stop-Shops” in France, Ireland, Italy and Austria, interest has been generated in the urban regeneration model in different regions and counties of Croatia, Poland, Greece and Ireland.