The VELUX Group demonstrates how to renovate Europe with the first affordable and scalable climate renovation in Brussels


The VELUX Group has announced the launch of the first scalable climate renovation project. A climate renovation is a unique concept in which health and well-being combine with high energy efficiency. After experimenting with several demonstration buildings across Europe, the roof window producer will now renovate a house in the garden city of Bon Air in Anderlecht.

The uniqueness of the VELUX climate renovation project lies in its reproducibility in both financial and technical terms. Indeed, the current challenge is no longer how to build or renovate low energy buildings, but how to do so at a reasonable cost. The experiment aims to define an affordable solution that can be scaled for use all over Europe. The selected building typology was chosen after an analysis of the real estate market potential, with the hope that a widespread implementation of this concept will lead to large-scale energy savings.

A reproducible, comfortable and affordable renovation solution
To test its concept in practice, the VELUX Group entered into a strategic partnership with the social housing company Foyer Anderlechtois/Anderlechtse Haard, which owns around 3,600 social dwellings in the Brussels area. A compact, semi-detached house in very bad condition, dating back to the mid-1920s, was made available for renovation. An architecture competition was organised to generate new ideas and innovative concepts for the climate renovation. The Antwerp-based architecture office ONO Architectuur has won it and will develop the project.

"We at the VELUX Group want to engage in and contribute to the debate on sustainable living in buildings. We are investing time and resources in this project because we think that health and well-being deserve more attention, especially in energy-efficient buildings. Moreover, I find this project very relevant from a social point of view; sustainable and healthier buildings have to be made accessible to the many," says Christian Fosseur, General Manager of VELUX Belgium.

The VELUX climate renovation project addresses a series of current challenges. First, it focuses on renovation − 90% of today's buildings will still be in use in 2050. New buildings represent only a tiny proportion of the European building stock, and most of the buildings we live in were designed with little attention for a healthy indoor climate and energy efficiency. Indeed, buildings account for 40% of the overall energy consumption, and 30% of the buildings we live and work in do not offer a healthy indoor climate. As a result, the European building stock is in urgent need of renovation.

For the VELUX Group, the solution lies in 'climate renovations', renovations that combine health and well-being with energy savings.

"Daylight and natural ventilation, at the core of VELUX expertise, play a crucial role in climate renovations," underlines Christian Fosseur.

Active House − a vision of buildings that give more than they take
The technical specifications used for this project will be the ones defined by the Active House Alliance. The VELUX Group supports this NGO that unites producers of building materials, scientists and architects around a vision of buildings that "give more than they take". The Active House vision focuses not only on energy efficiency but also on indoor climate and impact on the environment. It strives for a holistic view on buildings.

The building works are planned to start in late 2014. After the summer of 2015, the Group will open the house to visitors for twelve months in order to share the concept with a wider audience. Afterwards, it will be occupied by a social housing beneficiary, with further scientific monitoring for two more years. The VELUX Group will communicate the results of and experience learned from this project, and thus contribute to the debate about the buildings of the future.

VELUX − a tradition of experimenting
Villum Kann Rasmussen, the Danish founder of the VELUX Group once said: "One experiment is better than a thousand expert views". This statement underlines the VELUX tradition of building and renovating exemplary buildings, challenging the way VELUX products perform and setting new standards for innovation.

Since 2007, the VELUX Group has been building demonstration houses in Europe as part of the 'Model Home 2020' project, setting a benchmark for the design of sustainable homes and searching for solutions to the issues of climate, occupation and building typology. The provision of abundant daylight and excellent indoor air quality turned each of the projects into desirable homes with a high standard of living. Each building has been occupied for at least one year, with a scientific programme monitoring energy and well-being parameters to ensure sound results.

Today, the Group continues to design new exemplary projects in various climatic and cultural settings.

Sidebar: The winner project
ONO Architectuur developed a subtle proposal to give the semi-detached house a facelift and to create an impulse to improve the general living quality of the surrounding area, the Bon Air garden city. The proposal was selected because of its rational use of space, its cost effectiveness and its effective but simple technical approach that can easily be reproduced.

"For us, it was a real challenge to recreate the characteristics of a garden city while living up to the very high ambitions of the Active House Standards," states Jonas Lindekens, managing partner at ONO Architectuur.

Inside the house of about 100 square metres, a healthy and comfortable indoor climate is at the heart of the concept. The layout provides an abundance of daylight. The stairs have been moved to the centre of the house, creating a circulation core that doubles as ventilation and daylight shaft. The project adds to the building's daylight, fresh air and space, as well as giving a view to the garden.

The winning project was selected by a jury composed of Sylvie Reuter (Deputy Director of Foyer Anderlechtois), Grégoire Clerfayt (Director of the energy department of IBGE-BIM) and Georges Brutsaert (ARIB - Architecture in Brussels) and two VELUX representatives: Christian Fosseur (General Manager VELUX Belgium) and Lone Feifer (Sustainable Living Director, VELUX A/S).