The European Commission highlights the Opengela project’s «energy savings and support for vulnerable people»

Opengela’s General Assembly

  • This European Project funded by the Horizon 2020 programme will continue for a further eight months, until January 2023. Therefore, the pilot neighbourhoods of Otxarkoaga (Bilbao) and Txonta (Eibar) will be able to finish the refurbishment of the buildings of 460 dwellings
  • CINEA (the European Climate, Infrastructures and Environment Executive Agency) values Opengela for its “ambitious energy-savings”, “the creation of local experiences and employment”, the scalability of the processes and the financing” and “the support for vulnerable communities of owners”

The European Union is living a key moment in the energy and ecological transition because of the geopolitical crisis consequence of the invasion of Ukraine. Now, more than ever, the European Commission is determined to reduce its dependence on Russian gas and has launched some initiatives to the end.The recently approved REPowerEU Plan or the ‘Fit for 55’ regulatory framework (aimed at reducing emissions) are oriented in this direction, and the Commission stresses the fundamental role that energy-saving must play in our buildings: in this sense, there is a clear preference for in-depth rehabilitation projects, which involve savings of more than 60% of energy consumption.

In this context of a double need for decarbonisation and reduction of energy dependence, the Commission clearly supports projects such as Opengela that also include a social component. Martin Eibl, Senior Project Advisor at CINEA, the official body that oversees such projects, explained.

During the General Assembly of Opengela, which yesterday brought together all the partners of the consortium led by the Department of Territorial Planning, Housing and Transport, Mr Eibl highlighted the role played by Opengela, an urban regeneration project that is developing two pilot projects in the Otxarkoaga (Bilbao) and Txonta (Eibar) neighbourhoods. He highlighted four reasons: on the one hand, he emphasised the «ambitious energy savings» proposed by the project thanks to the works related to efficiency in the intervened buildings. On the other hand, he underlined the importance given to «the value chain to create local experiences and employment», which speaks in favour of «long-term policies».

Opengela's partners
Opengela’s partners

Thirdly, emphasis was placed on «scalable processes and funding» beyond the two pilot neighbourhoods, which have already begun to be applied in other Basque localities and have been the subject of interest from other European regions. In addition, CINEA values «the support to vulnerable communities of homeowners», a relevant aspect of the project.

Eight-month extension for Horizon 2020 project

The General Assembly also served to confirm that this project financed by the EU through the Horizon 2020 programme (with 1.7 million euros) will be extended by eight months more than initially planned. Instead of ending in May 2022, the European Commission has accepted an extension – without additional funding – until January 2023 to allow all the objectives to be reached and to finalise the works in the Txonta and Otxarkoaga neighbourhoods, some of which were delayed due to the difficulties arising from the pandemic and the recent supply crisis.

This is not to say that the urban regeneration process, and in particular the Opengela model, will end there. In fact, the replication phase has already begun in other places. Specifically, there are already 10 Basque municipalities that are applying this initiative based on the implementation of neighbourhood offices as a one-stop-shop for all procedures related to the refurbishment of buildings. In addition to the 460 homes covered by the project in Txonta and Otxarkoaga, work has begun in Lasarte and Durango, as well as in Pasaia, in three Biscayan municipalities in Ezkerraldea (Abanto-Zierbena, Santurtzi and Trapagarán), as well as another two in the Ayala Valley: Orduña and Amurrio. In total, there are 1,800 dwellings.

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 organisation at the European level (FEDARENE and Housing Europe) and firms specialising in financing (GNE Finance), communication (Gabineteseis) and European affairs (Zabala).

Bandera de la Unión Europa

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 846707.

Otxar Opengela

Address: Avenida Pau Casals, No. 16, Otxarkoaga, Bilbao (In front of Plaza Kepa Enbeita)

Telephone: 946 85 19 32


Txonta Opengela

Address: Calle Txonta No. 3, ground floor, Eibar

Telephone: 688 77 97 37


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