International
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Healthy Buildings, Healthy Cities: Renovate!

IFHP's Senior Project Manager Christina Krog went to the Healthy Buildings Day 2016 hosted by the VELUX Group and learned a lot about Europeans’ health and living conditions. Read the blogpost for her insights and some interesting facts.
Recently I participated in the Healthy Buildings Day 2016, hosted by the VELUX Group, - a Danish company promoting themselves as the “Daylight Engineers”. 
 
I learnt a lot of things about Europeans’ health and living conditions as the Healthy Homes Barometer 2016 was presented. 14.000 Europeans across 14 European countries have shared their thoughts on how healthy they feel, answered questions about the key to their health and shared their knowledge on how to boost health in their homes. The Health Barometer is commissioned by the VELUX Group and conducted by the research institute Wilke A/S, guided by Professor Bernd Wegener [Humboldt University, Berlin]. 
 
Facts and insights from different researchers and perspectives were presented throughout the day, and here is what struck me the most: 
90% of today’s buildings will still be in use in 2050. At the same time, buildings account for 40% of all energy consumed, and for 37% of the carbon emissions. 80 million Europeans live in damp and unhealthy buildings, which nearly doubles the risk of developing asthma. 17 million euros are used on asthma treatment across Europe per year. (Find more facts here). 
 
As professionals in housing and planning, we talk a lot about how to increase the supply of more affordable housing. However, baring these facts at the back of my mind, I am convinced of the necessity to also focus on improving and upgrading the existing housing stock. Unless renovation rates are substantially increased over the coming years, we will continue to suffer from unhealthy buildings long into the future. 
 
The question here is how to ensure affordability and replicability when refurbishing. Of special interest to the IFHP community is perhaps the project the VELUX Group has been undertaking in the Garden City of Bon Air in Anderlecht, Belgium. In short, Velux committed to refurbish one single house within an affordable budget, which has convinced the housing association to replicate the solution to more than 80 other houses within the community. The project is focused on creating healthy homes. However, and as we discussed in the panel session of the afternoon; healthy homes must be both affordable and part of a healthy community for it to foster healthy lives and well-being.  
 
 

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