Opengela programme showcased in Brussels as a benchmark for integrated urban regeneration

Opengela programme showcased in Brussels as a benchmark for integrated urban regeneration

  • The Basque Government organised an event bringing together leading members of the European Commission and the European Parliament, as well as representatives from the financial sector, industry, research and the third sector. 

On 15 February, the Basque Government held a conference at the Delegation of the Basque Country in Brussels with a twofold objective. On the one hand, to present to the various European stakeholders the progress of urban regeneration in the Basque Country, and how it is being developed through the Opengela programme and the new European project BIRTUOSS. On the other hand, to gather the contributions of the various stakeholders at European level and to discuss how to develop effective models to facilitate the implementation of EU legislation in this area.

During the conference, comprehensive urban regeneration was addressed from a Basque and European perspective, focusing on four key aspects: social integration, promotion of employability and lifelong learning, involvement of companies and SMEs from various sectors, inclusive financing and tools to facilitate the monitoring of rehabilitation through the Building Passport and the Digital Logbook.

The event was attended by a number of Opengela – BIRTUOSS partners: Ignacio de la Puerta, director of Territorial Planning and Urban Agenda of the Basque Government and coordinator of the project; Jon Ansoleaga, general director of Build:inn; Olga Martín, general director of Aclima; Alex Carrascosa, member of EDE Fundazioa; Jokin Garatea, from the executive team of GAIA; Andoni Hidalgo, in-house consultant of Gabineteseis; José Ramón López, from the Basque Energy Agency (EVE) and Marta Lupatelli, project manager of Fedarene.

In this way, the OSS model was discussed as a tool for social integration. Experts from the Basque social sphere presented the example of the intersectoral integration and employability roundtables that are currently underway in more than 15 Basque municipalities, and which address the urban regeneration of the most vulnerable part of the population. In relation to this point, it was also stated that one of the conclusions reached by Opengela is the existence of a failure in the financial market that leaves a significant part of the population on the margins of building rehabilitation projects. Thus, there is a need for a broad debate on how to establish financial mechanisms that respond to this reality, and to discuss the role of public authorities in meeting the needs of this large sector of the population.

On the other hand, representatives from the research world such as the University of the Basque Country and the Brussels-based think-tank Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE) highlighted the need for a «shift in focus» in urban regeneration from the perspective of the individual building to the neighbourhood scale. This was illustrated by the presentation of the results of a recently published BPIE research on ‘positive energy neighbourhoods‘.

Basque companies were also present at the conference and spoke about their experience in a project such as BIRTUOSS, in which the private sector is actively integrated with construction, environmental and technological companies. Experience has shown them that there are serious shortages of skilled labour in the different professional profiles required, which hinder the successful deployment of the so-called ‘European Renovation Wave’. Also, the OSS model has so far been developed with a certain scepticism towards and from the business sector, and it is believed that it is time to involve industry in robust and long-lasting public-private cooperation schemes actively. From the European perspective, a representative of Saint-Gobain underlined that the challenges of companies in the Basque Region are shared by the European industry in general, and praised the vision of multidisciplinary alliance that is being followed in BIRTUOSS.

Finally, the Basque Government emphasised that even with a participative citizenry, effective financial mechanisms and companies with a well-trained workforce, the transformation of cities through large-scale comprehensive urban regeneration faces a huge operational challenge. In this way, the Basque executive presented two innovative initiatives such as a Building Passport (BP) that incorporates a digital registration system that can represent a reference on the way forward in the near future, and a Digital Building Logbook (DBL) tool developed by the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in collaboration with Cíclica Arquitectura SCCL and funded by Opengela, which consists of interactive and customisable maps that can help organisers plan renovations and identify synergies to increase the energy efficiency of neighbourhoods.

Thus, the conclusion drawn from the talk was that the European Union’s Renovation Wave is entering a crucial moment and that, therefore, it is now the national and regional governments that must implement it effectively.

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Opengela’s new website is now available 

Opengela’s new website is now available 

On Friday, February 16, the new Opengela website was launched. This will be the main source of information of the European project BIRTUOSS.

Thus, interested people will be able to find out what Opengela is, who it is for, and where their nearest Opengela office is located in case they want to go to get information about the available grants.

In addition, a ‘Neighbourhoods’ section has been added to the website where all the places where this urban regeneration programme is being implemented in the Basque Country are listed. Here you will find the main information on each one of them, divided by region. In total, there are 25 neighbourhoods and more than 3,200 families are being assisted. In many of them, in addition to the comprehensive renovation of buildings, work is being carried out on the refurbishment of their surroundings, and specific employment plans are being developed for the population of these neighbourhoods.

Likewise, in the ‘Contact’ section, with the aim of making it more visual, a map has been added where you can see all the Opengelas currently operating in the Basque Country, as well as using drop-downs that make the information more accessible, with the main contact details of each Opengela and the opening hours for the public.

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Do you know the EU Building Stock Observatory? 

EU Building Stock Observatory

Do you know the EU Building Stock Observatory? 

EU Building Stock Observatory

The European Commission’s EU Building Stock Observatory (BSO) is a tool designed to enhance the monitoring of the EU’s existing energy policies and initiatives, to give transparent information on the EU building stock, and to help shape future policy making.

A data base, mapper, and fact sheet with interactive graphics and tables containing information about the stock of EU buildings and energy usage are all included in the design of the BSO. These can be downloaded and viewed on screen for later use.

The tool will ultimately cover a wide range of energy-related topics and include information of energy consumption, building stock, energy performance certificates, installed building elements and technical building systems, zero energy buildings, renovation rates, as well as topics like energy poverty and financing.

The tool’s present iteration just addresses three areas and is the initial stage of a significant overhaul:

  • Building stock
  • Renovation rates
  • Energy consumption

In the Basque Country, the Department of Territorial Planning, Housing and Transport of the Basque Government, as part of the Opengela project, launched a tool to track the energy performance of buildings and homes. Thus, each user can exclusively consult the energy performance monitoring data through the following link: https://www.stechome.net/monitorizacion/GV/

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24 unemployed people will receive paid training at the Opengela facilities in the Otxarkoaga neighbourhood of Bilbao for a year 

Formación Opengela Otxarkoaga

24 unemployed people will receive paid training at the Opengela facilities in the Otxarkoaga neighbourhood of Bilbao for a year 

Formación Opengela Otxarkoaga

24 unemployed people will receive training related to energy efficiency and the use of new technologies to subsequently provide advice on these two aspects to users who come to Bilbao Municipal Housing. The place chosen for the classes and upcoming advice is the Opengela located in the neighbourhood of Otxarkoaga, one of the pilot neighbourhoods of the European HIROSS4all programme, where work was carried out on 15 house numbers of five buildings with 238 dwellings.

The socio-occupational inclusion projects are coordinated and managed by Bilbao Ekintza and the Directorate of Employment and Inclusion of the Basque Government’s Department of Labour and Employment, and they have the collaboration of Bilbao Municipal Housing. In addition, the project has been funded by Next Generation.

This experience is now being extended to other neighbourhoods in the city whose projects are linked to the Torreurizar and Párroco Unceta Urban Regeneration projects (in the Santutxu neighbourhood of Bilbao).

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The neighbourhood of Torreurizar becomes the ‘living lab’ of the BIRTUOSS project

Torreurizar

The neighbourhood of Torreurizar becomes the ‘living lab’ of the BIRTUOSS project

Torreurizar

The European BIRTUOSS project will launch a series of social, economic and environmental initiatives and, in order to test their effectiveness, will use the Torreurizar neighbourhood in Bilbao as a test bench. Its operation will experiment with different formulas and will work on co-creation with the neighbourhood with the aim of replicating this model in other Basque, Spanish and European cities in the future.

The novelty lies in the fact that, in parallel to the renovation work on the buildings, a 12-month employment and training plan is being developed for 12 long-term unemployed people from the neighbourhood. The aim is to train these residents in digitalisation and energy efficiency so that they can subsequently provide training and information to other people in the neighbourhood and so that they can improve their relationship with the e-government and optimise their energy bills. 

In addition, programmes will be carried out to recover the commercial activity of some of the 9 Torreurizar premises.

More information: https://opengela.eus/neighbourhoods-en

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Opengela receives the support of the LIFE programme to integrate social, economic and environmental aspects in the regeneration of the neighbourhoods

Opengela receives the support of the LIFE programme to integrate social, economic and environmental aspects in the regeneration of the neighbourhoods

Representatives of the 14 partner organisations during the project launch meeting.

  • The new European project will last three years and provide continuity to the model implemented in the Basque Country, with local offices in rehabilitated neighbourhoods.
  • The Opengela model of urban regeneration began in 2019 with two pilot experiences in Otxarkoaga (Bilbao) and Txonta (Eibar) and is being extended to another twenty Basque neighbourhoods.
  • The project -funded with 1.5 million Euros- brings together the experience of 14 partners from public and private entities, foundations, clusters and European organisations, led by the Department of Territorial Planning of the Basque Government.
  • The Torreurizar neighbourhood in Bilbao will serve as a test bench to experiment with the project’s progress.

In 2019, the Basque Country launched the Opengela model of urban regeneration which set up neighbourhood offices in different municipalities. The success of the initiative has meant that the European Commission has granted funding for a new project – called BIRTUOSS – through the LIFE programme, which will cover the next three years. It will give continuity to the urban regeneration process, which will now be reinforced by the integration of social, economic and environmental aspects.

Opengela was created in 2019 as a project funded through the European Horizon 2020 programme. For almost four years, a management model was developed consisting of a network of one-stop-shop offices that accompany the neighbourhood in the refurbishment of their buildings, providing -in addition to expert advice on technical and financial matters- the necessary proximity and trust during the long process that these actions entail. The starting point was two pilot experiences in the neighbourhoods of Otxarkoaga (Bilbao) and Txonta (Eibar) and the model is currently being extended to around twenty neighbourhoods in the Basque Country.

“The success of the first Opengela project and its replication to other municipalities has been key for the European Commission to renew its confidence in the Basque model of urban regeneration” says Ignacio de la Puerta, director of Territorial Planning and Urban Agenda of the Basque Government and coordinator of the BIRTUOSS project. “In this project that is now starting, we will continue with the approach based on a management model that can be extended to all the neighbourhoods in the Basque Country, through the proximity of offices. But we will provide a more systemic approach, implementing innovative formulas so that, in addition to the intervention in the buildings, other actions are incorporated with the aim of improving the quality of life in the neighbourhoods”.

The project provides a comprehensive vision of urban regeneration, focusing on a management system for the whole of the Basque Country, with five key elements: decarbonisation on a neighbourhood scale (not just for each building), the incorporation of nature-based solutions in the urban environment, the territorial perspective of the deployment of this intervention model with the leadership of public administrations in collaboration with the private sector, based on the consolidation of the model of proximity offices and the application of affordable financing formulas.

14 partners in the European project

The aim is to achieve improvements in the social, economic and environmental aspects of city life. To achieve this, BIRTUOSS will count on the participation of 14 partners from the institutional and private sectors, foundations, clusters and European organisations.

The consortium is led by the Department of Territorial Planning and Urban Agenda of the Basque Government. It also includes the Basque Energy Agency (EVE), Bilbao Municipal Housing (VVMM), the clusters of Environment (Aclima), the Construction Industry (Eraikune) and Knowledge and Technology (GAIA), the CAVIAR research group of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), EDE Fundazioa, the Cíclica cooperative (specialist in decarbonisation strategies), as well as companies with expertise in financing (GNE Finance), communication (Gabineteseis) and European affairs (Zabala Innovation), and also two European-level bodies such as Fedarene (European Federation of Energy and Environment Agencies and Regions) and Green Building Council Spain (GBCe).

Pilot experience at Torreurizar (Bilbao)

The project will use the Torreurizar neighbourhood in Bilbao as a test bench. The proximity office installed there will experiment with different formulas in the social, economic and environmental fields, with an approach based on co-creation with the neighbourhood and with the aim that in the future they can be applied and scaled up in other cities not only in the Basque Country but also in Spain and Europe.

Torreurizar, located in the Irala neighbourhood of Bilbao, has 25 house numbers and 264 homes whose refurbishment process has already begun. The proximity office that serves the neighbourhood is also up and running.

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The European Opengela project concludes with a new urban regeneration model that is already being applied in 10 neighbourhoods and will be extended to another 14

The European Opengela project concludes with a new urban regeneration model that is already being applied in 10 neighbourhoods and will be extended to another 14

The Opengela delegation in Brussels together with Martin Eibl, Senior Project Advisor at CINEA.

  • In three and a half years, it has set up neighbourhood offices in Otxarkoaga (Bilbao) and Txonta (Eibar) and in Durango, Lasarte, Pasaia, Abanto-Zierbena, Santurtzi, Valle de Trápaga, Orduña and Amurrio. 
  • The ‘opengelas’ of the two pilots accompany nearly 800 people in the refurbishment of their buildings. So far it has led to an average energy saving per dwelling of more than 60%, an investment in sustainable energy of 9.6 million euros, a saving in CO2 emissions of 758 t/year, as well as mobilising private investment of 3.2 million euros.

After three and a half years of work, the Opengela project concludes with its main objective fulfilled: to establish a new model of urban regeneration that is already being applied in 10 neighbourhoods in the Basque Country and which plans to be extended to another 14. The project, financed by the European Horizon 2020 programme, presented its main conclusions yesterday, 17 November, in Brussels, at an event held at the Committee of the Regions.

The conference entitled ‘The power of One-Stop-Shops’ was attended by the delegate of the Basque Government in Brussels, Marta Marín, as well as the director of Territorial Planning and Urban Agenda, Ignacio de la Puerta, who heads the project consortium. Txari Vallejo (Bilbao Municipal Housing) and Ibon Irazola (Debegesa) also took part to explain the development of the two pilot projects in the Otxarkoaga (Bilbao) and Txonta (Eibar) neighbourhoods.

The European Opengela project is coming to an end, having achieved the objectives proposed at its beginning and -above all- responding to one of the most important requirements that the European Commission asks of the projects it finances: to ensure their continuity over time with the creation of a solid and replicable model.

During the time the project has lasted, the neighbourhood offices of the two pilot projects have assisted a total of 780 people who, thanks to the support of technical and administrative staff, have started up renovation processes in their buildings, reaching a total of 469 dwellings. The renovation interventions have achieved clear improvements in the quality of life of the residents. On the one hand, actions have been carried out in the facilities to improve accessibility (installation of lifts, refurbishment of doorways), or the installation of fire safety systems. On the other hand, energy improvements have been made (façade insulation, installation of boilers, replacement of windows, etc.) which have had a direct impact on the substantial improvement in the quality and comfort conditions of the dwellings, identified by a significant improvement in indoor air quality.

These improvements translate into an investment in sustainable energy of 9.6 million euros, a saving in energy demand of more than 3.9 GWh/year, a reduction in CO2 emissions of 758 tCO2/year, as well as mobilising private investment of 3.2 million euros.

On the other hand, the project has facilitated funding through a specific system of the Opengela model, aimed primarily at serving people at risk of vulnerability. To this end, two-year credit lines have been created to finance public aid, financing has been facilitated for homeowners’ associations, and the age limit for access to financing has been extended to 70 years of age (the average age of the people assisted is over 58), among other measures.

A scalable and replicable project

As Ignacio de la Puerta explained, the experience gained with the Opengela project, in addition to improving the quality of life of residents, «has enabled the development of a new management model that can be extended to the rest of the Basque Country with the objectives of reducing the risk of energy poverty among citizens, creating zero energy balance and friendly neighbourhoods with universal accessibility in the building stock and in urban environments and that can become carbon sinks in a significant contribution to mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change».

The success of this formula has led to its extension to other municipalities such as Lasarte (Basaundi Bailara) and Durango (Aramotz), as well as others such as Pasaia (Andonaegi), Abanto-Zierbena (Las Peñucas), Santurtzi (Aurora Vildósola), Valle de Trápaga (San Andrés neighbourhood), Orduña (in the Dolores Madaria and Landata neighbourhoods) and in Amurrio (Goikolarra).

In addition, there are another 14 neighbourhoods in the Basque Country that are in the early stages of implementation. In Alava, work will be carried out in the Zaramaga neighbourhood in Vitoria-Gasteiz, in Bizkaia in three neighbourhoods in Bilbao (Párroco Unzeta, Torre Urizar and Uretamendi), in Bermeo (Iparragirre and Txibitxiaga) and in Sestao (Vista Alegre); and in Gipuzkoa in Arrasate (Santa Teresa neighbourhood), San Sebastian (Altza), Eibar (Hijos de Gabilondo), Elgoibar (Sigma housing), Errenteria (Beraun), Leaburu (Txarama), Soraluze (Ezozia) and Irun.

At the European level, in addition to having shared experiences with many other «One-Stop-Shops» in France (Picardie-Pass and Île-de-France énergies), Ireland (Tipperary-SuperHomes), Italy (Sharing Cities – Milan) and Austria (RecoBooster – Vienna), it has also generated interest in other places to implement this model of urban regeneration. This is the case of two regions in Croatia (on the one hand, Medjimurje, and on the other, the counties of Varazdin, Koprivnica-Krizevci and Virovitica-Podravina), one in Poland (Mazovia), one in Greece (Thessaloniki), as well as Extremadura and Asturias, and an Irish entity implemented in three counties (Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford). All of them have visited the pilot neighbourhoods of Opengela with the idea of replicating the model.

During the session, there was also space to listen to other cases of good practice, such as AGREE (a project also led by the Basque Government), ComAct (an urban regeneration project implemented in several Eastern European countries) and Renowatt (a project implemented in the Belgian region of Wallonia). In the second part of the day, Julien Dijol (from the European Association for Social Housing, Housing Europe, also a partner of Opengela) and Amélie Ancelle (from Energy-Cities, the European grouping of cities for sustainable energy) took part. 

Example of public-private collaboration

The European Opengela project started in May 2019 and is an example of public-private collaboration. In addition to the Basque Government, there are other public entities in the consortium, such as the Basque Energy Agency (EVE), Bilbao Municipal Housing and Debegesa, as well as two European-level bodies (FEDARENE and Housing Europe) and firms specialising in financing (GNE Finance), communication (Gabineteseis) and European affairs (Zabala).

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The Opengela project presents its conclusions on the implementation of a new model of urban regeneration in Brussels tomorrow

The Opengela project presents its conclusions on the implementation of a new model of urban regeneration in Brussels tomorrow

  • This European project funded by the Horizon 2020 programme began three and a half years ago with two pilot experiences in the neighbourhoods of Otxarkoaga (Bilbao) and Txonta (Eibar). 
  • The creation of neighbourhood offices, which accompany the neighbourhood in the process of rehabilitating their buildings, has been successfully implemented and is already spreading to other Basque municipalities.

The Opengela project is coming to an end. Funded by the European Horizon 2020 programme, it has promoted a new model of urban regeneration for three and a half years. Tomorrow it will present its main conclusions in Brussels at an event to be held at the Committee of the Regions. 

Under the title ‘The power of One-Stop Shops’, the main advances of this new model of urban regeneration will be presented, which is based on neighbourhood offices that support the neighbourhood throughout the process of rehabilitating their buildings.

Two neighbourhoods have been used as pilot projects: Otxarkoaga (Bilbao) and Txonta (Eibar). And after three and a half years, the success of this formula has led to its extension to other municipalities such as Lasarte (Basaundi Bailara) and Durango (Aramotz), as well as others such as Pasaia (Andonaegi), Abanto-Zierbena (Las Peñucas), Santurtzi (Aurora Vildósola), Valle de Trápaga (San Andrés neighbourhood), Orduña (in the Dolores Madaria and Landata neighbourhoods) and in Amurrio (Goikolarra).

In addition, there are another 14 neighbourhoods in the Basque Country that are in the early stages of implementation. In Alava, work will be carried out in the Zaramaga neighbourhood in Vitoria-Gasteiz, in Bizkaia in three neighbourhoods in Bilbao (Párroco Unzeta, Torre Urizar and Uretamendi), in Bermeo (Iparragirre and Txibitxiaga) and Sestao (Vista Alegre); and in Gipuzkoa in Arrasate (Santa Teresa neighbourhood), San Sebastian (Altza), Eibar (Hijos de Gabilondo), Elgoibar (Sigma housing), Errenteria (Beraun), Leaburu (Txarama), Soraluze (Ezozia) and Irun.

At the European level, in addition to having shared experiences with many other «One-Stop-Shops» in France (Picardie-Pass and Île-de-France énergies), Ireland (Tipperary-SuperHomes), Italy (Sharing Cities – Milan) and Austria (RecoBooster – Vienna), it has also generated interest in other places to implement this model of urban regeneration. This is the case of two regions in Croatia (on the one hand, Medjimurje, and on the other, the counties of Varazdin, Koprivnica-Krizevci and Virovitica-Podravina), one in Poland (Mazovia), one in Greece (Thessaloniki), as well as Extremadura and Asturias, and an Irish entity implemented in three counties (Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford). All of them have visited the pilot neighbourhoods of Opengela with the idea of replicating the model.

Tomorrow, the delegate of the Basque Government in Brussels, Marta Marín, will speak, as well as the director of Territorial Planning and Urban Agenda, Ignacio de la Puerta, who heads the project consortium. In addition, Txari Vallejo (Bilbao Municipal Housing) and Ibon Irazola (Debegesa) will participate to explain the development of the two pilots.

There will also be time to listen to other cases of good practice, such as AGREE (a project also led by the Basque Government), ComAct and Renowatt. In the second part of the day, Julien Dijol and Sorcha Edwards (Housing Europe), Amélie Ancelle (Energy-Cities) and Martin Eibl (CINEA-European Commission) will speak.

From May 2019

The European Opengela project started in May 2019 and is an example of public-private collaboration. In addition to the Basque Government, there are other public entities in the consortium, such as the Basque Energy Agency (EVE), Bilbao Municipal Housing and Debegesa, as well as two European-level bodies (FEDARENE and Housing Europe) and firms specialising in financing (GNE Finance), communication (Gabineteseis) and European affairs (Zabala).

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