oPEN Lab – Join us!

Apr 16, 2024

with spring in full swing, the oPEN Lab project is bustling with activity, reflecting the progress across our various initiatives. From Pamplona (ES) to Genk (BE) and Tartu (EE), we are witnessing significant developments in our efforts to implement Positive Energy Neighbourhoods.

In Genk, residents are experiencing the realities of renovation work while still living in their homes. This presents its challenges, including noise, dust, and disruptions from the workforce. Clear communication, unburdening and meticulous planning are instrumental in limiting inconveniences. We’re working hard to commit to those, but constant reflection and improvement is pivotal. Each household will receive a regular updated and personalized calendar outlining the daily activities and expectations during the renovation period. Complete renovation process of the first houses were managed within six weeks per house, demonstrating our commitment to efficiency and innovation.

Despite our progress, we continue to face challenges, with existing legislation being one of them. An example is the collective ‘plug and play’ energy box that provides heating, storage, data and ventilation services to multiple dwellings. We must choose if the photovoltaic panels deliver electricity to the energy box, or to the households. If we chose the first, the latter would have to pay taxes and levies… Whereas we can supply heat for free, we cannot do so for electricity.

Policies demand we make our buildings future proof at an accelerated pace, but do not embrace yet the innovations this requires.

However, there are reasons for optimism. The recent revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive explicitly mentions a neighbourhood approach. Moving from a single-building perspective to seeing buildings as components in a bigger system will unleash potential for further energy efficiency gains, renewable integration, social cohesion, economies of scale etc.

As we move forward, let us draw inspiration from the progress we’ve made and the challenges we’ve overcome. Together, we can continue to build a more sustainable future for our communities.

Wishing you an inspiring reading,

Maarten De Groote – oPEN Lab coordinator