For Sustainable Social Housing in Europe

Launched in 2003 in the context of the European Commission Framework Programme for Research and Development (5th FPRD), the SHE project, which will end in March 2009, brings together scientific partners and European social housing organisations around the completion of sustainable building pilot projects.

Eight pilot projects located in Denmark, France (61 sustainable dwellings constructed by OPAC 38 in Bourgoin-Jallieu), Italy and Portugal, for a total of around 600 dwellings, are followed all along the construction and monitoring process by the scientific partners.

The strong focus points of this project are to develop a global approach to sustainable social housing, to improve environmental performance, to evaluate the satisfaction of tenants through socio-economic monitoring, as well as to encourage sustainable social housing to be taken in account in national, regional and local policies.



In order to meet the SHE objectives, recommendations for lessors were made at the beginning of the project on a selection of topics (analysis of the site, ground, water, materials, waste, energy, lighting and acoustics, socio-economic aspects, participative process, simulation and technical monitoring). As the pilot projects have progressed, the scientific partners have had feedback and emerging questioning with lessors. The recommendations for sustainable housing in Europe, the main result of the SHE project, are currently drafted on the basis of these elements.

Daniela Belziti, of the Delegation for Sustainable Development and project manager for CSTB, admits that in terms of participation, the project was ambitious. “For the construction of new housing, there was no obligation or frame of reference in terms of participation. Well-established information processes exist in all organizations. As a result, it is more difficult to bring about change in the practices and introduce a real process of participation, a major issue in terms of guaranteeing pertinent choices and ensuring environmental performances after design phase. Feedback from the SHE pilot projects may help to refocus the issue of sustainable buildings around use and behaviours.”

Already rewarded

Mélanie Tual from CSTB’s Economy and Social Sciences Department, has collaborated on the elaboration of a common definition of “participation” for those involved in the SHE project and on recommendations for the elaboration of a participation strategy. “Beyond the essential duty to inform, participation must enable the key players to be heard and to influence the decision making when it’s relevant. Once a common definition of the notion of participation was established, the objective was to create a common framework for recommendations for implementing the participation process, emphasizing the need, in accordance with the context and specificities of the operation, to involve all of the stakeholders as upstream as possible, but also during the management phase”.

These recommendations will be included in a guidance document for conducting sustainable social housing projects. CSTB is spearheading the drafting of this document together with the other scientific partners.

The SHE project has already received many national and European awards, such as that of the European campaign, Sustainable Energy Europe 2005-2008, for its operational nature, follow-up of actions proposed, and, especially, for the environmental performances achieved.


The Grand Tissage in Isère, pilot operation of OPAC38 for new sustainable housing – Source: OPAC38