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The Basque Government’s Housing Ministry to lead the European AGREE project for the energy refurbishment of old residential buildings

  • The project got underway today with a meeting of all the partners: the Basque Government, Tecnalia, the municipal Urban Planning and Housing corporations of Basauri, San Sebastián and Vitoria-Gasteiz – Bidebi, Donostiako Etxegintza and Ensanche 21 –, and Ihobe, the environmental management agency.
  • With a European Commission subsidy of €562,000, AGREE plans to mobilise €8.5 million in the energy refurbishment of the residential buildings of three pilot projects in Álava, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa.
  • 57% of the housing in the Basque Country was built between 1940 and 1980.
  • Innovative financing instruments adapted to the residents’ needs will be used.

The Basque Government’s Housing Ministry plans to mobilise €8.5 million  up until 2022 in the energy refurbishment of private residential buildings over 40 years old, thanks to the European Commission approving the AGREE projects (Aggregation and improved Governance for untapping Residential Energy Efficiency potential in the Basque Country), which will allow innovative financing instruments adapted to the needs of the residents to be designed.

Up until 2022, the project will run three pilot schemes in neighbourhood associations in Basauri, San Sebastián and Vitoria-Gasteiz.  They will involve comprehensive refurbishment projects, where the focus will be on accessibility and energy efficiency, with the setting up of new financing systems specifically designed for this type of interventions and guaranteeing the participation of the residents in the process.

Apart from improving the quality of life of the residents of the buildings in AGREE, the project headed by the Basque Government seeks to give impetus to the refurbishment market, increase the energy efficiency and accessibility of the buildings, and obtain significant environmental benefits, such as the reduction of 250, tons of Co2eq/year from now to 2022.

Along with the Basque Government’s Ministry of Housing, the project’s partners are Tecnalia, the research centre; Bidebi, Basauri Local Council’s urban planning and housing corporation; Ensanche 21, Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council’s municipal urban planning corporation; Donostiako Etxegintza, San Sebastián City Council’s municipal housing corporation; and Ihobe, the environmental management agency.  The partners got the project underway at the launch meeting held in Vitoria-Gasteiz today.

The AGREE project has a €562,000 subsidy from the European Horizonte 2020 programme, considered to be the EU’s most far-reaching innovation and research programme, with funds aimed at ensuring Europe’s global competitiveness by supporting innovative projects such as AGREE.

Old housing stock

The experience and knowledge acquired during the three pilot projects will be compiled in a manual to be applied in buildings of similar characteristics.  This will improve the social, environmental and energy conditions of the housing stock of the Basque Country, one of the oldest in southern Europe, with 57% of the residential buildings built between 1940 and 1980, before energy-efficiency regulations were in place.

The 2017 study conducted by the Basque Government into the Housing Demand and Needs in the Basque Country estimated that 76,286 housing unit needed to be refurbished on a four-year horizon. Sixty-seven per cent of those units are located in buildings that are over 40 years old, and whose owners are older and lack the economic resources to undertake improvement work.