The oPEN Lab project, funded by the European Union, reached a significant milestone as participating tenants of the Living Lab in Genk embarked on a field trip to witness the success stories of similar renovation projects conducted by Wonen in Limburg in Hoeselt and Bilzen.
The journey began with a visit to the “de sociale energiesprong” project in Hoeselt, where four energy-wasting houses underwent a transformative insulation process in 2021. Using prefabricated facade elements, the homes saw a remarkable improvement from energy label F to A+, now producing more energy than they consume. Mirroring the experience in Nieuw Texas, tenants did not have to relocate during the efficient 9-day renovation process per house.
Clear communication and careful planning were crucial, with a manned information point in the neighbourhood, detailed quarterly planning, informative tenant folders, and a traffic light system indicating when it was safe to leave the house. Tenant Mia shared her pride in her renovated home, addressing questions from Nieuw Texas residents about the impact on pets, furniture protection and noise reduction.
The journey continued to Bilzen, where the Gansbeekstraat neighbourhood witnessed the renovation of 63 social houses, achieving 100% sustainability through insulation, solar panels, smart energy techniques, and green gas. The tenants experienced a rapid and eco-friendly transformation without the need to vacate their homes.
In a demo house, participants received a presentation on the renovation projects while enjoying coffee and cake, emphasising the importance of behavioural changes. The primary objective of the visit was to address concerns and questions from oPEN Lab participants starting their renovations, offering a glimpse of post-renovation homes, insights into the works’ process, and showcasing the results of innovative techniques.
As the bus carrying the inspired oPEN Lab tenants returned home, it is hoped that the journey provided not only answers but also adjusted expectations, paving the way for successful and sustainable renovations in the Nieuw Texas community.