As part of a prospective study carried out for the AREBS (association de redéploiement économique du bassin sérésien), the multidisciplinary team of WattElse took an interest in the renovation of the public housing on the territory of the City of Seraing. With one of the highest rates of public housing in Wallonia, the renovation of this housing represents a major challenge for the city in terms of combating energy poverty and achieving the objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions on its territory.

The Seresian public housing

The City of Seraing has nearly 6,000 public housing units spread over the 3 municipal entities (Seraing, Jemeppe-sur-Meuse and Ougrée), i.e. 20% of households residing in public housing. These accommodations are managed by 3 public service housing companies (SLSP).

Architectural and energy diagnosis

From the statistical data held by the SLSPs and quickscans of certain public housing carried out by our energy experts, an architectural and energy diagnosis of the Seresian public housing has been established and here are some key elements:

  • 70% of public housing are apartments with a maximum of 2 bedrooms
  • Most of the dwellings were built over a period of 20 years (between 1960 and 1980)
  • 70% of homes have a PEB D label or lower, with one third of the stock not being insulated
  • The 20 most consuming streets (out of 220 analyzed) alone represent 45% of energy consumption and 43% of the number of dwellings
  • Energy renovation operations as part of investment programs have been carried out on the envelope in the past and have made it possible to reach a PEB B level or higher for a share of the housing (10%)
  • Heat production systems are mostly outdated (83%)
  • The energy consumption of the housing stock is estimated at 67 GWh/year, of which 81% is for heating
  • The bill for the energy supply of these dwellings represents an annual expense of 7 million euros/year

On the basis of these elements, the energy strategy department of WattElse has divided public housing into different representative typologies according to the year of construction and the type of housing in order to establish an energy renovation scenario aiming for the PEB A label and the carbon neutrality.

2050 objective : label PEB A for 100% of the public housing and 86% reduction in CO2 emissions

To achieve the reduction objective, renovation scenarios have therefore been established according to the different types of housing. They aim to improve the envelope and install a ventilation system by 2030 and replace the heat production systems by 2050.

Achieving the 2050 objectives represents an investment ranging from €40,000 to €77,000/housing.

Over the entire Seresian stock, the investment for the energy renovation of the public housing has been estimated at 233 million euros and will make it possible to reduce energy consumption by 34 GWh and produce 24 GWh of renewable energy (electricity and heat).

The financial savings related to the work make it possible to make the work profitable in 46 years.

Financial incentives and funding models

In order to encourage the renovation of public housing, the energy experts of WattElse have identified, on the basis of a European benchmark, various incentives making it possible to consolidate renovation, among which have been selected :

  • The energy package

When an SLSP carries out energy renovation work, it does not directly receive the energy savings since the bills are borne by the tenant. In order to capture part of the financial savings linked to energy renovation, a hot rent has been set up in certain European countries (in France in particular). The implementation of this system in Wallonia requires adapting the regulations on rental charges (AGW 25/02/1999) which does not provide for this type of charge. In France, the adaptation of the regulations required a period of 2 years.

  • The energy saving certificate (CEE)

Beyond capturing energy savings through the establishment of hot rent, WattElse has proposed the establishment of energy saving certificates aimed at subsidizing the envelope work. The implementation of this type of incentive would make it possible to guarantee the energy performance of the works over the long term, to phase the subsidization of the works and to interest private actors in energy renovation.

The question of the financing of this mechanism remains open: either via the creation of a regional fund fed by European funds, or via the establishment of a CEE market like green certificates.

  • The municipal energy transition fund

A final lever has been identified through the establishment of a municipal energy transition fund to finance the energy renovation of public housing. This could be funded by public funds but also citizens through a public call for savings. The establishment of this type of fund, however, requires the City to obtain legislative authorization via decree authorizing it to constitute a legal person with the aim of collecting citizen funds with the aim of reinvesting them in energy transition projects.

Project sheets

In order to help the AREBS to defend the implementation of these levers at the regional level, sheets have been established on the basis of concrete renovation projects and two financing models, namely the implementation of energy performance contract or of a renewable energy community.

The energy performance contract aims to have the work carried out by an ESCO (acronym for Energy Service COmpany or an energy service company) which would ensure the study, execution and financing of the work as well as an energy performance guarantee on the long term. In terms of income, the introduction of hot rent and energy saving certificates would enable the ESCO to make its investments profitable.

It is obvious that this type of assembly is hardly possible at the present time because it requires a revision of certain regulations in force and the establishment of EEC.

The establishment of a renewable energy community has a much better chance of succeeding insofar as the Walloon regulatory framework is being developed. This type of arrangement would allow an energy community formed by the City of Seraing and/or an SLSP to finance the installation of photovoltaic panels or renewable heat production systems and to ensure the supply of renewable energy to the public tenants. This model would allow a disadvantaged public to access renewable production through an energy supply contract with the renewable energy community.

It should be noted that when carrying out the study, the Walloon Region released an envelope of 1.3 billion for the energy renovation of public housing. The Seresian SLSPs will be able to benefit from part of these funds to finance the energy renovation of certain public housing.

If you too need support and advice in real estate renovation strategy, the independent experts of WattElse are there to help you. Whether it involves identifying opportunities for improvement, co-constructing the best 2050 renovation scenario with you, auditing your buildings and facilities in whole or in part, or even budgeting investments in a realistic manner based on analyzes of profitability, you can count on us! Get in touch via and/or consult on our website the scope of the services we can offer you.