oPEN Lab is now up and running for over a year, and what a year it has been… While the project started in late 2021 in full COVID-crisis, the worst still had to come. The cruel and unjustified Russian invasion of Ukraine overshadows all. Also, for the energy transition, this aggressive act is a major disruptor, as it fundamentally transforms both the global energy market and the “energy mindset” of all Europeans, thus also the oPEN Lab project.
As a reflection of this darkness, oPEN Lab would like to shed some light…
In the oPEN Living Lab Genk, for example, we literally saved the life of a family. Due to high energy prices, many families can no longer pay their energy bills and, therefore, switch their central heating systems to individual kerosene heaters. This was also the case for the family of R.K. in the Nieuw Texas neighbourhood. Fortunately for them, oPEN Lab partner KU Leuven who had already started pre-renovation monitoring of the indoor air quality noticed an extremely high CO2 concentration and warned the family of the potential risk of carbon monoxide poisoning… As the unvented kerosine heater released carbon monoxide and other toxic fumes into the room while using the oxygen, the family was suffering from headaches and dizziness. Luckily, the symptoms all disappeared once the kerosene heater was removed, and they are in good health now.
The extent of the oPEN Lab project is impressive… More than 40 innovative technologies will be implemented, more than 500 citizens in the relevant neighbourhood engaged actively and close to 50.000 m2 of floor surface is planned for transformation.
Also, from a collaborative perspective, it is impressive. With more than 150 people involved from 32 organisations in the oPEN Lab consortium, the expertise is enormous, but so is the challenge in collaboration. However, we are becoming familiar with one another, for which the consortium meetings are of great help. In October 2022, the 32 partner organisations met in Pamplona (Spain), warmly welcomed by Mayor Enrique Maya and the Spanish partners.
With our freshly launched oPEN Lab Open Call we aim to involve innovators beyond the oPEN Lab project consortium partners. Innovators are invited to exploit their solutions for Positive Energy Neighbourhoods in one or more of the oPEN Living Labs in Genk (Belgium), Tartu (Estonia) and Pamplona (Spain). As such, the oPEN Lab project creates time and resource efficiency conditions for route-to-market approaches through its open-innovation and co-creation environment in its three oPEN Living Labs. If you are interested, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
Another good news is that the tenders for the renovation works and technical installations are soon to be launched. In the next newsletter, we will tell you more about the planned renovation works and technical setups. As such, we wish for ourselves in 2023 a normalisation of construction equipment costs and a smooth launch of the first renovation works.
The oPEN Lab partners wish you a positive energetic 2023.
We look forward to connecting with you soon.
Maarten De Groote – oPEN Lab coordinator