Activating energy transformation through the use of Next Generation Funds was the topic of debate at the REhabilita technical conference held on January 24 in Barcelona. An initiative of reference for all the agents involved in the renovation of housing and the construction sector that, this year, had these European funds in the spotlight.
“We have to take advantage of the European Union’s Next Generation Funds to start working on the 1.5 million homes that need to be remodeled in Catalonia,” said the president of the Association of Technical Architecture of Barcelona (Cateb), Celestí Ventura. According to Ventura, the funds represent an “unbeatable opportunity both for the population, who will be able to enjoy a better quality of life and greater comfort, and for companies, to specialize in a growing subsector, and for society, by cutting energy consumption and preserving cultural heritage”.
The event, promoted by Cateb together with the Generalitat de Catalunya, the Barcelona City Council, the Provincial Council, and other representatives, included a discussion panel made up of seven speakers such as the director of Building Quality and Housing Renovation, Jordi Sanuy; the director of the Next Generation European Funds program, Elsa Ibar; the head of IMHAB’s Renovation Promotion Department, Ana Rigalt; the coordinator of the Processes and Operations Area, Jordi Amela; the technical architect and coordinator of the Renovation Technical Office, Eva Bonet; the coordinator of the Renovation Technical Office, Marta Martínez; and the coordinator of the Renovation Technical Office area, Victor Forns.
All of them emphasized the challenges and opportunities that they detect and that they have to manage, in their day-to-day work, in the local housing and renovation offices, as the bodies in charge of informing interested citizens and processing the available and active aid.
In this sense, there was a broad consensus in pointing out the existing barriers, such as the great complexity of managing the funds, the difficulties in mediating with all the owners and end users of the buildings, and in being able to attract them economically and make them aware of the importance of starting these energy renovation projects.
Challenges that require consensual and effective responses, more teamwork between technicians and other professionals and an effort to intensify outreach among potential communities that can take advantage of subsidies. In addition, as Marta Martínez pointed out, the funds must be used because “no one is left behind and to reach the sectors with the least possibilities of financing, which are the ones with the greatest need”.
A firm commitment
Several organizations, such as the Barcelona City Council, have made a firm commitment to the intervention and improvement of buildings throughout the city, as a solution to the emerging need for housing available on the part of citizens. A renovation should be done with criteria focused on sustainability and environmental awareness and the same citizens and neighborhood communities. All these aspects were discussed in depth in the latest edition of the Barcelona Housing and Renovation Forum (FHAR), on a second day in which different experts analyzed the impact of this commitment, the prospects and the shortcomings to be resolved in the short and medium term.