14 february

New fund stimulates Dutch housing associations to go fossil free

Four housing associations in Rotterdam; Havensteder, Woonstad, Vestia and Woonbron, will share financial resources to meet the city’s 2050 Fossil Free goal

In Rotterdam, 64% of the city’s houses (around 200,000) are owned by four Housing Associations, Havensteder, Woonstad, Vestia and Woonbron, who are the collective beneficiaries of an expected EUR750,000 from the European Investment Bank’s European Local Energy Assistance (ELENA) grant, intended to support energy efficiency.

The housing associations used the grant to contract external experts and carry out analyses to overcome challenges, shared by all four associations, towards the Netherland’s 2050 carbon neutral goals. They assessed alternatives to gas heating such as biogas, biomass and waste heat, and looked to novel technologies for insulation, lighting, heating and cooling, energy management, and even energy production (solar).

Disconnecting from fossil fuels over the next three decades will be no easy feat and will require disconnecting 8,000 houses from gas per year until 2050. The Dutch housing associations intend on collectively renovating 50,000 dwellings in the coming ten years, saving 3,750 tonnes of CO2 per year, and reducing the annual average household energy bill by EUR365.

Putting the People first

In addition, the housing associations explored ways to inspire tenants to embrace sustainability. This is important for the housing associations to proceed with the renovations, as a majority residents must be in favour of the work, despite the disruption to their lives and anxieties of potential increases in rental costs. The associations created a sustainability menukaart, a menu of renovation options to reduce carbon emissions and fossil fuel usage, to educate and engage with the tenants. The associations also built a relationship with the Association of Homeowners, increasing commitment and collaboration between housing associations, homeowners and tenants.


The ELENA grant is a joint initiative by the EIB and the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme. It provides grants for technical assistance focused on the implementation of energy efficiency, distributed renewable energy and urban transport projects and programmes.

The grant can be used to finance costs related to feasibility and market studies, programme structuring, business plans, energy audits and financial structuring, as well as the preparation of tendering procedures, contractual arrangements and project implementation units.

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