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20 October 2021

oPEN Lab – Leading the Transition to Positive Energy Neighbourhoods

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oPEN Lab is a project funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. Under the coordination of VLAAMSE INSTELLING VOOR TECHNOLOGISCH ONDERZOEK N.V. (VITO), 33 partners from 7 countries are collaborating to revitalise urban areas across Europe to lead the transition to Positive Energy Neighbourhoods. Activities will take place in the three demonstration sites in Genk (Belgium), Pamplona (Spain) and Tartu (Estonia). The project is officially launched on 20 October in Genk, with simultaneous events in Tartu and Pamplona.  

The oPEN Lab project aims to identify and demonstrate replicable, commercially viable solution packages enabling to achieve positive energy buildings and neighbourhoods.

“The European Union aims to be climate-neutral by 2050, this requires full decarbonisation of existing buildings. One priority must be to redesign and retrofit our existing buildings and neighbourhoods while having a positive impact on society. The oPEN Lab project will contribute to this objective by demonstrating the feasibility of promising technologies, processes and social innovations, leading towards positive energy buildings and neighbourhoods, paving the way for wider replication”, Sylvain ROBERT, Project Manager in the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency, underlines.

The oPEN Lab project will demonstrate integrated, participatory and neighbourhood-based approaches by implementing three open innovation living labs in Genk (Belgium), Pamplona (Spain) and Tartu (Estonia), whereby:

  • The integrated approach combines sustainable building design tailored to the local context in Genk, Pamplona and Tartu, seamless industrial renovation workflows, renewable energy generation combined with energy flexibility, including energy storage systems, urban service facilities and smart operation, life cycle thinking and circularity;
  • The participatory approach is based on an approach where industry, government, academia and participants from Genk, Pamplona and Tartu work together to co-create and drive changes far beyond what any organisation or person could do alone;
  • The neighbourhood approach enables an analysis, leading to designs and implementation of the most optimal renovation and technology approaches towards a decarbonised building stock, and from an integrated perspective. This approach leads to a reduction of construction costs and time, facilitates the pooling of financing, decreases the burden for residents and allows for the rollout of new services (e.g., comfort as a service).

“The oPEN Lab living labs will emerge as innovation hot-spots, testing and validating innovation process, technologies and services in real-life communities and settings during the duration of the project and beyond”, Maarten De Groote stated, project coordinator of oPEN Lab.

The neighbourhoods and regions targeted in this project are all characterised by a history of economic decline that has resulted in poor conditions of the building stock, in need of a positive transformation. Therefore, the targeted areas have a strong reconversion potential with a high possible contribution to the European Recovery Plan 3. The context, challenges and possibilities from each neighbourhood are different, albeit together they represent a large part of European cities and urban areas across Europe.

Further information on oPEN Lab: Open innovation living labs for Positive Energy Neighbourhoods | oPEN Lab Project | Fact Sheet | H2020 | CORDIS | European Commission (europa.eu)

Twitter: @oPENLab_project & LinkedIn