New Study: Europe’s suburbs key to tackling ill-health caused by aging, deficient buildings

The VELUX Group today launches the 2018 edition of the Healthy Homes Barometer at an event in Brussels, Belgium, bringing together scientific experts, building industry representatives, political stakeholders and the media.

The Healthy Homes Barometer 2018 is the 4th edition of this pan-European study, which takes the pulse of Europe’s buildings and examines the effects of housing on inhabitants’ health. This year’s report sheds light on some stark realities, especially in Europe’s rapidly-growing suburban areas:

  • Europe’s suburbs have grown 54% more than urban areas over recent decades, and are made up of 62% single-family homes
  • Single-family homes are up to 33% more likely to result in residents reporting ill-health than multi-family homes
  • Investing in healthy office buildings should be a no-brainer for companies.

Suburbanisation and the (un)healthy home
Urbanisation is a familiar topic to many, but in Europe as a whole, it is actually suburban areas which are growing fastest, outpacing urban growth by 54% between 1961 and 2011 (when the last 10-year dataset is available). A house in the suburbs is still the dream for many Europeans, who move out of cities looking for more space, lower costs and better quality of life. Single-family homes dominate the suburban landscape, comprising 62% of dwellings in these areas. Yet many of them are old and deficient, and they are significantly more likely to cause poor health. For example, occupants of single-family homes with overheating issues are 33% more likely to report poor health than those in multi-family homes with the same problem.


In Europe over the last six decades, suburban growth has significantly out-paced urban growth. This year’s study demonstrates just how important our suburban areas are to achieve a healthier building stock, and yet we are in danger of overlooking their importance. Action is needed to address health and climate concerns across populations – but in Europe’s suburbs we may be missing a golden opportunity.
David Briggs, CEO of the VELUX David Briggs, CEO of the VELUX GroupGroup

Renovation: a sound investment for society
The report shows that money exists in the system to catalyse the required levels of renovation, but goes on to detail the major – and often unnecessary – barriers that can deter homeowners from making this type of investment. The long-term benefits of renovation are also demonstrated. While the one-time cost of bringing housing up to standard across Europe is thought to be around €295 billion, inadequate housing is estimated to cost EU economies €194 billion every single year.

Healthy offices: a win-win
When not at home, many Europeans spend the majority of their time in an office. For the first time, this year’s edition of the Healthy Homes Barometer also looks at European office environments. With 90% of a business’ operating costs going on its employees, and better indoor environments leading to significant improvements in productivity and well-being, the report demonstrates why investing in office buildings should be a no-brainer for companies.

These are just a few of the findings in this year’s Healthy Homes Barometer, which also offers suggestions as to how policy makers, industry and private individuals can work together to improve the state of Europe’s homes and offices – something that will be absolutely vital in working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals and achieving the commitments laid out in the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement.


I welcome this year’s edition of the Healthy Homes Barometer. It is essential that we base our decisions on well-founded, comparable and reliable data. That is the only way for us to face the housing challenge and deliver on our energy and climate commitments. Let us always remember that the energy transition starts at home!
Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President of the European Commission

The Healthy Homes Barometer 2018 comprises new analysis of the EU’s Eurostat database carried out by Ecofys, a Navigant Company, along with new research from Fraunhofer IBP, supplemented by existing published data.

Read the full the Healthy Homes Barometer 2018 here.


About The VELUX Group

About the VELUX Group

For more than 80 years, the VELUX Group has created better living environments for people around the world; making the most of daylight and fresh air through the roof. Our product programme includes roof windows and modular skylights, decorative blinds, sun screening products and roller shutters, as well as installation and smart home solutions. These products help to ensure a healthy and sustainable indoor climate, for work and learning, for play and pleasure. We work globally – with sales and manufacturing operations in more than 36 countries and around 11,000 employees worldwide. The VELUX Group is owned by VKR Holding A/S, a limited company wholly owned by non-profit, charitable foundations (THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS) and family. In 2022, the VELUX Group had total revenue of EUR 2.99 billion, VKR Holding had total revenue of EUR 4.29 billion, and THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS donated EUR 181 million in charitable grants.

For more information about VELUX Group, visit