ACE workshop: The role of key civil society groups in the renovation wave during the 2021 Civil Society Days

In the framework of the Civil Society Days, the Architects' Council of Europe (ACE), the International Union of Property Owners (UIPI) and the EESC section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society (TEN) organised on 4 March 2021 an online workshop on the role of key civil society groups in the Renovation Wave strategy with over 100 attendees.

The workshop demonstrated that a Renovation Wave in Europe cannot be achieved without the mobilisation of key civil society groups, notably representatives of owners and architects. Speakers explained how these groups play a crucial role in engaging, advising and supporting citizens in their renovation journey, and ensuring that quality projects are delivered. They are also key partners for public authorities at all governance levels.

Speakers also presented very concrete examples of tools developed by civil society groups: mobile applications, professional software; public platforms, information hubs. Raising citizens awareness about the challenges and opportunities relating to building renovation is crucial, if we really want to accelerate the renovation rates in Europe. Public authorities and civil society groups have a key role to play here.

The workshop was also an opportunity to debate policy initiatives and instruments that can best support the mobilisation of civil society. The New European Bauhaus initiative, whose co-design phase is currently in full swing, can be seen as an interesting and promising initiative in this regard – it can contribute to sensitise citizens, collect their ideas, and be a platform to imagine the built environment of tomorrow.

Two principles for building renovation are of particular importance: affordability and quality of projects. These principles are not contradictory, they can be achieved at the same time. A holistic approach to renovation is needed: an approach that beyond energy efficiency and economic savings seeks to improve well-being and comfort of occupants, as well as the heritage and use values of building.

It is important to set achievable policy objectives that are fit for purpose. Ambition is valuable but it should not remain dead letter! This will impact on the lives of citizens and professionals that we represent, both our associations are used to work together and can help to promote a better renovation wave as we can assist, support and help our members, based on trust and common effort and dialogue.

Conclusions and Take-away messages

“All the stakeholders have to be involved in this strategy. This is a win-win-win: Win for climate change, for social issues and for the companies. It is important for us to have the point of view of the property owners and the architects, to share all the ideas on this strategy.” Pierre Jean Coulon, EESC rapporteur for the Renovation Wave   

“An ambition of this kind can only be realised if we have a strong team working together. Those of you listening today make up that team: You are our champions on the ground. National, regional and local authorities must place energy efficiency at the core of concrete measures and financing. We are counting on you to help us create that safe improved future and to help empower consumers along the way.” Kadri Simson, Energy Commissioner

“To be successful the Renovation Wave should work for and with citizens and market actors. Our organisations can be the missing link between policy and the ground.” Emmanuelle Causse, Secretary General of UIPI

“We, as member organisations, can guide the policymakers as we can raise questions and bring forward concerns and expectations that are important to homeowners. Our projects ‘Strømsmart’, which matches an immature supplier side of services or products with homeowners, advising, helping for buying and also giving a financing solution, and the ‘Index of housing expenses’, which lists all the costs of living in a home in all municipalities in Norway so all policymakers and other interested parties can see how much it cost to live in a home; are good examples. It is important to find the cost effective measures that the homeowners are willing to support.” Morten Andreas Meyer, Secretary General of the Norwegian Homeowners’ Association, Huseierne

“We, architects, promote a holistic approach to renovation, an approach that beyond energy efficiency and savings seeks to improve well-being and comfort of occupants, as well as the heritage and use values of building.” Julie Fernandez, Council Member of the Conseil National de l’Ordre des Architectes, France

“The Renovation Wave should be a shared project across Europe. Working together at all levels, with the mobilisation and ownership of the cities, local and regional authorities, networks, national governments and citizens, and all stakeholders, we can make it happen.” Paula Rey García, Deputy Head of Unit C4 Energy Efficiency: Buildings

“The Renovation Wave of buildings must focus on a comprehensive renovation, which also takes into account the new needs of our lifestyle. With the New European Bauhaus as a previous framework for analysis to this renovation, we will be able to have an effective knowledge base for improving our buildings and our public space. “ Marcos Ros Sempere, Member of the European Parliament

Did you miss the event? Watch a recording of the live-stream

About the 2021Civil Society Days

The virtual #CivSocDays 2021 (1-5th March) took place at a crucial time for Europe and its citizens, namely amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and towards the recovery from this unprecedented crisis. This key civil society event bring together Citizens Organisations and EU Institutions to debate "A Sustainable Recovery for the Future of Europe's citizens". Europe must ensure that the green and digital transitions are built on the values of solidarity and human rights, social justice, equality, and on education, culture, migration, democracy, participation and entrepreneurship.

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