RenovActive gives social housing a healthy make over

One in six Europeans lives in buildings that are too damp, too dark, too warm or too cold. An unhealthy home is not only uncomfortable but also bad for society.


Due to the increasing age of the European building stock, unhealthy buildings have become a public health issue. These unhealthy buildings do not only affect inhabitants physically but also have an impact on the general economy. Every year, European societies face a cost of EUR 82 billion to cover just a handful of the illnesses caused by unhealthy buildings. However, if just 2 per cent of European homes were renovated with an emphasis on health every year, by 2050 we could reduce the number of Europeans who live in a damp and unhealthy home by 50 per cent. 


RenovActive House is a single-family house constructed by the public housing company Foyer Anderlechtois, located in Brussels. In 2016, the house was renovated based on the concept of “Climate Renovation”, which aims to create a first-rate indoor climate with good energy performance.

To make it affordable for social housing projects, the concept consists of seven different elements, which can be implemented individually or in any preferred combination. Each element supports specific properties that will improve ventilation, strengthen the climate envelope and expand the living space through densification or extension. The inherent flexibility and scalability of the elements make RenovActive highly accessible.

Since the RenovActive project was built on the Active House concept, the Active House radar was used to measure the success of climate renovations. The tool reflects the three main principles in active house renovation projects, which are comfort, energy and environment. Following the Active House principles means creating healthier and more comfortable homes without a negative impact on the climate.


The financial side is important. When addressing the many public housing communities that need to be refurbished, budget issues are a common obstacle. By improving the financial viability of renovation, millions of existing homes suddenly become open to further investment.


In Brussels, the public housing company decided to renovate further 86 homes due to the scalability of the concept. Amongst the many benefits gained by implementing the concept, homeowners now enjoy a significant improvement in access to natural light, thanks to the use of strategically placed roof lights and a glazed extension. Automated natural ventilation is established through the controlled windows and the open staircase. The ventilation is energy efficient and is regulated according to humidity, temperature and C02 levels, which ensures a healthy air quality while minimizing energy loss.

The RenovActive project in Belgium proves that by exploiting a renovation concept that can be adapted to even the strictest of budgets, it is possible to solve one of the biggest health issues in European society.

Primary contact
Kathrine Westermann

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