Integrated approach to support and develop economic activities in the Brussels Renovation sector of Housing including Socio-economic concerns

Project partner: CEESE

IRHiS project’s main objectives are to stimulate the Brussels activity of building/housing renovation,

              1. by offering support to the other projects of the Strategic Platform on socio-economic aspects (identification of potential barriers and levellers within the Brussels context, analysis of main stakes to achieve a shift toward a more sustainable construction/renovation sector, cost analysis, and social acceptance study);
              2. by identifying if new market actor(s) and/or the development of new tools that could enlarge the panel of activities of existing market actors is needed to foster the current low rate of renovation works within the Brussels residential sector.

A first deliverable, D1 – “Short overview of the retrofit market for Brussels residential buildings”, was made available for the Platform in June 2013. It gives a global perspective on the Brussels retrofit market, focussing on: the general context of the region (demography, age pyramid, proportion of owners/tenants, regulations and public supports, etc.); the Brussels building stock and its main characteristics compared to the two other regions; characteristics of the demand-side (ownership typology and socio-economic characteristics, etc.); characteristics of the supply side and market activities (enterprises active in the renovation sector, renovation rates, kind of renovation activities, characteristics of the labour market in the construction sector, etc.).

The second deliverable, D2 – “Synthesis of the main barriers and success factors as regards the retrofitting market of residential buildings in Brussels”, was achieved in August 2013. In its first part, it highlights some theoretical inputs from “socio-economic” theories – such as the conventions theory, the translation theory and transition theories – that gave us a theoretical framework to identify main barriers and success factors of renovation activities in Brussels.

A workshop was organised in September 2013 to share main results of both deliverables with other partners of the BXLRetrofitXL platform.

In the course of 2013 and in 2014, work has going-on with deeper interactions with some projects of the Platform. In this “micro” approach, specific barriers and success factors of each project have been analysed more specifically in order to help them mapping their main strengths and weaknesses in the framework of a transition toward a more sustainable housing renovation market and in the Brussels context (WP3). Synthesis reports concerning the projects LightComp (D3.1), DynStra (D3.2), Wintegrate (D3.3), Aim-ES (D3.4) and MESB (D3.5) are now available.

Transversal support has also taken the form of different socio-economic analyses for most of these projects (WP5). The direct cost analysis for LightComp (WP5.1) compares the allocation costs of the different variants developed with the allocation costs of different existing building products (producer and constructor point of view). For the dynamic reuse approach (DYNSTRA), a social acceptance analysis was carried out in WP5.2, with a specific focus on the social housing sector, and for the Wintegrate project, a social acceptance analysis and a brief cost analysis is summarised in WP5.3. Finally, a cost and labour productivity comparison with existing renovation practices has been carried out and potential impacts on the Brussels labour market have been assessed (WP5.4) for multi-functional envelope systems (AIM-ES).

As crucial obstacles to deep renovation projects identified in D2 was related to the financing of higher upfront costs and the need for integrated approaches / services, WP4 was dedicated to the analysis of existing financial and technical solutions. Based notably on a benchmark study, different potential alternative mechanisms to mobilise other sources of financing (private funds, European funds, citizens’ savings) and make them available for sustainable building renovation (e.g. soft loans and third-party financing, third-party investing, etc.) have been analysed, as well as their potential (conditions for) use in the Brussels residential renovation market. Integrated approaches combining different alternative financial mechanisms and a technical and administrative support to owners are promising solutions to help reaching the regional goals as regards climate and energy stakes. They have indeed the potential to overcome major barriers identified to increase the annual building renovation rate and the level of renovation ambition. However, these mechanisms are complex, take a long time to be implemented and need generally a strong implication of (local) public authorities to design them correctly or even to play a central role in the global scheme.