Flanders has the ambition for an energy-efficient and climate neutral built environment by 2050. Social housing companies are expected to play a pioneering role, also in the field of major energy renovations. Based on these future ambitions, Woonplatform Limburg VZW (corporation of 9 social rental housing companies in Limburg) contacted UHasselt to scientifically support strategic choices and decision-making within this transition.
Woonplatform emphasized the importance of a multidisciplinary approach, considering not only energy performance, but also architectural and urban planning aspects and the social, financial and economic impact of this transition. Additionally, the study had to anticipate possible future changes and scenarios in the areas of living, working, mobility, recreation, among others.
This strategic research, embedded in the region and with a broad societal relevance perfectly matches the vision of ArcK. After critical reflection, ArcK considered this as a momentum for social housing companies to play a pioneering role not only with regard to energy, but in a broad transition in which various sustainability aspects (people, planet, profit) are implemented.
The project is divided into multiple phases. We started with a limited exploratory phase, to define research goals and questions and to make a selection of case studies. In a short-term study 3 case studies in Limburg were examined in detail. In the current phase, a master vision will be developed for each case study.
The research is conducted in a multidisciplinary setting, involving the Spatial Capacity Building and the Sustainability research domains, but also research groups of other faculties, including economics and mobility. There is also a strong interaction with our education, where students are challenged to deal with multiple aspects of this transition in a real-life context. This way, the project of Woonplatform Limburg vzw is anchored in our entire faculty. This project demonstrates a sustainable collaboration and interaction between the university and a societal partner, where practice is fed by scientific insights and where our research in turn is fed by needs and challenges from practice.