The Platform against energy insecurity, an organization run by the King Baudouin Foundation, is urging Belgium’s authorities to “renovate social housing to improve its energy performance”. This “must be considered an investment and not an expense,” the Platform adds.
“For many social housing tenants, the dilapidation of some of the social housing is one of the main cause of their energy insecurity. They have to use too much of their (low) incomes to pay energy bills and/or drastically limit their consumption,” it noted, pointing out that this energy insecurity affected one out of every five households in Belgium.
To support its recommendations, the Platform commissioned a study on the costs and benefits of renovation aimed at making social housing more energy efficient. “As this research is inevitably based on certain hypotheses, it needs to be interpreted with the required care, but it shows that while the investments needed are considerable, they yield important benefits, including financially,” it explained.
On average, each euro invested by the regional authorities generates a financial return of 0.69 euro at the national level, largely due to the development of the construction sector. The returns vary from 0.46 euro in Wallonia and 0.59 euro in Brussels to 1.02 euro in Flanders. The differences between the regions stem from the differences in the share of financing between the Region and the social housing agencies, with the calculation based on the current situation, according to the Platform.
“Investing in the energy efficiency of social housing also benefits tenants, who see their energy bills decrease. Assuming that tenants derive full benefit from lower consumption, the energy insecurity in social housing could go from over 25% to 11%, even according to the most conservative hypotheses,” it added.
Based on these, the Platform has come up with many recommendations related mainly to financing energy renovation, improving the regulatory framework, encouraging alternative methods of financing, and the legal and technical aspects of these renovations. “Finally, you must invest in helping social housing tenants manage their energy consumption,” the Platform said.