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The European Horizon AGREE project will be under study at the UPV/EHU Summer Courses

The energy rehabilitation planned for around one hundred buildings in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Donostia-San Sebastian and Basauri will be addressed in the summer course, “The other consequences of the energy rehabilitation of our buildings: lights and shadows”, which will take place on 16th and 17th July, given by Mario Yoldi, Basque Government’s Director of Planning and Operational Housing Processes, and Patricia Molina, lead researcher in Urban Regeneration at Tecnalia Research & Innovation.

The energy rehabilitation planned for around one hundred buildings in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Donostia-San Sebastian and Basauri under the innovative European Horizon AGREE project will be under study at one of the University of the Basque Country’s (UPV/EHU) Summer Courses. More specifically, the course will address “The other consequences of the energy rehabilitation of our buildings: lights and shadows”, which will take place on 16th and 17th July, given by Mario Yoldi, Basque Government’s Director of Planning and Operational Housing Processes, and Patricia Molina, lead researcher in Urban Regeneration at Tecnalia Research & Innovation, among others.

This summer course aims to reflect on and debate the current situation of energy rehabilitation of buildings, beyond the typical technical focus on aspects related to energy efficiency. With this in view, the Tecnalia researcher, Patricia Molina, will break down the problems arising in southern Europe as a result of the energy rehabilitation policies fostered by the European Commission. They include the assumption that savings in the energy bill are sufficient to cover the rehabilitation investment, and the difference in property ownership, with major public and private owners in the north of Europe, compared to what occurs in countries in the south of the continent. To overcome these barriers, an integrated approach needs to be applied, including actions to increase accessibility and habitability, and formulas that enable the demand for rehabilitation to be aggregated on a larger scale. Furthermore, it is necessary for the public authorities to accompany the most vulnerable population in the process, with financing formulas that enable the rehabilitation to be carried out.

This latter aspect, that of financing energy rehabilitation, will be the topic addressed by the Basque Government’s Director of Planning and Operational Housing Processes, Mario Yoldi. More specifically, he will explain everything related to the new financial instrument for this type of interventions, which was approved by the Basque Government in December last year, after reaching a collaboration agreement with several financial entities. This mechanism serves to finance the rehabilitation of housing and buildings, providing universal accessibility and increased energy efficiency. The instrument establishes a guarantee fund, provided by the Basque Government’s Housing Department, which will cover 16% of each unpaid loan. The Basque Finance Institute will be responsible for the fund’s operational management, which will be set up with 30 million euros.

Three pilot projects in the Basque Country

The European AGREE Project (Aggregation and improved Governance for untapping Residential Energy Efficiency potential in the Basque Country), led by the Basque Government’s Department for the Environment, Territorial Planning and Housing, aims to raise more than 8.5 million euros in public and private investment for energy rehabilitation in three pilot projects that will be carried out in Vitoria-Gasteiz, San Sebastian and Basauri until 2022. The urban planning and housing societies in these municipalities (Ensanche 21, Donostiako Etxebizitza and Bidebi-Basauri) have already selected the neighbourhoods to implement it (Adurtza and San Cristóbal in Vitoria-Gasteiz; Intxaurrondo in Donostia-San Sebastian and Federico Mayo in Basauri). The projects have the support of Tecnalia and the participation of the public environmental management company, Ihobe.

The experience and knowledge acquired in the implementation of the pilot projects will serve as a guide for the gradual rehabilitation of the housing stock in the Basque Country, one of the oldest in the south of Europe, with 57% of residential properties built between 1940 and 1980, before energy efficiency regulations existed.

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