The affordable housing initiative was announced in the Commission's renovation wave strategy for Europe, which aims to green buildings, create jobs and improve lives. This strategy intends to at least double renovation rates in the EU by breaking down long-standing barriers to energy and resource-efficient renovation as well as improving reuse and recycling. By 2030, the construction sector could see 35 million renovated buildings and up to 160,000 additional green jobs.
Context and objectives
The renovation wave will support new investments over a sustained period, starting with public and less efficient buildings. These will spur digitalisation and creating employment and growth opportunities across the renovation supply chain.
As part of this strategy, the affordable housing initiative works to make sure social and affordable housing facilities also benefit from the renovation wave. It will guarantee local social and affordable housing projects’ access to necessary technical and innovation capacity and project support by
- piloting 100 lighthouse renovation and construction districts with a smart neighbourhood approach focused on energy efficiency, liveability and innovation, also providing blueprints for replication to support other projects across Europe
- mobilising cross-sectoral project partnerships and linking them to local actors, such as social economy entities, SMEs active in the construction or renewable ecosystems, local authorities and bodies, housing associations, investors and civil society
- promoting efficient access and use of innovative processes such as circular and modular building, production of renewable energy as well as engagement models to empower residents and local communities
The affordable housing initiative builds on the housing partnership of the urban agenda (2015-2018), the Committee of Regions' opinions on housing, the European Economic and Social Committee's opinions on housing, the European Parliament's resolution on maximising the energy efficiency of EU buildings (2020), the European Parliament's resolution on decent and affordable housing for all (2021) and the Council Recommendation on ensuring a fair transition towards climate neutrality (2021).
The affordable housing initiative is a flagship of the New European Bauhaus (NEB). The core values of the new European bauhaus are sustainability, aesthetics and inclusiveness. In that regard, projects supported by the initiative combine a focus on the energy efficiency of buildings with sustainability, design, liveability, accessibility and affordability to ensure a fair green transition.
It further aligns with the cohesion policy as it supports locally-led development strategies and empowers local authorities in managing funds. The European regional development fund (ERDF) allocates 8% to strengthening sustainable urban development, supporting the cohesion policy's urban dimension.
The affordable housing initiative is in line with several other EU-level actions and initiatives, including
- the NextGenerationEU recovery plan and the Recovery and Resilience Facility
- the REPowerEU plan
- the recast of the Energy Efficiency Directive
- the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive
Calls delivering on the affordable housing initiative
Currently open calls
Ongoing projects and outcomes from previous calls
Affordable housing initiative (SMP-COSME-2021-HOUS) – ongoing project (March 2022-March2024)
The European Affordable Housing Consortium (SHAPE-EU) supports local industrial partnerships composed of SMEs, public, social, and cooperative housing providers, public authorities, and other relevant actors that engage in the renovation or construction of 20 lighthouse districts. They pay particular attention to innovative approaches, like smart and circular technologies, engagement models for tenants, and multi-stakeholder partnerships. The ten partners of the consortium work with local communities and experts to shape the EU affordable housing initiative by creating blueprints for replication, capacity building, and advice for the 20 districts across Europe.
Social and affordable housing district demonstrator (IA) – closed : 3 ongoing projects (launched in autumn 2022)
drOp – Digitally enabled social district renovation processes for age-friendly environments driving social innovation and local economic development
The project drOp will develop an integrated renovation methodology to transform social housing districts into inclusive smart neighbourhoods. It will guide constructive, energy and digital updates to improve the urban space, accessibility, and residents’ quality of life. The project will guarantee connectivity in physical, social and digital areas and explore the growth creation potential of cultural and creative industries (CCIs). The methodology will be tested in the Santa Ana neighbourhood in Ermua (Spain) while experience and inputs from the peer cities of Matera (Italy) and Elva (Estonia) will provide replicability conditions to support similar projects in other districts.
ProLight – Progressive lighthouse districts serving as green district gate towards Leadership in sustainability
Under ProLight, a standardised approach will be piloted in six demo sites and energy communities that will act as urban incubators of technological, social, regulatory and market solutions. The common goal of the project is to identify proper methodologies fostering European lighthouse and pocket districts, providing blueprints for replication and creating energy and climate-aware communities. The approach to the districts is twofold as the project will focus on building and renovating in an energy and resource-efficient way in Austria, Finland and Greece while engaging with energy communities in Spain, Italy and Portugal combined in so-called Innovation clusters.
SUPERSHINE lighthouse districts in Trieste (Italy), Herning (Denmark) and Riga (Latvia) will be characterised by energy-efficient buildings, low-carbon mobility, smart grids, and efficient water and waste management. This is underpinned by responsive technologies that optimise resources while promoting well-being and sustainable lifestyles. The project will address several areas of intervention such as incentivizing owners and tenants to undertake energy renovations, developing innovative bottom-up financial solutions, involving local SMEs and promoting integrated renovation processes. The project will also support the sustainable energy transition of fellow districts in Setúbal (Portugal), Belgrade (Serbia), Zaragoza (Spain) and Kadikoy (Turkey).
- 2022 edition – ‘The future of living, innovation for affordable, and sustainable housing districts’: meet the winners of the two award categories for the 2022 edition
- 2023 edition – ‘Fighting energy poverty’ – Repower EU: applications closed on 30 May 2023. Award ceremony to take place on 14 November in San Sebastian.
Lightouse districts under the affordable housing initiative
* 28 districts in September 2023
Affordable housing initiative presentation October 2023
GROW-SOCIAL-ENTERPRISEec [dot] europa [dot] eu (GROW-SOCIAL-ENTERPRISE[at]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu)