oPEN Lab is a large-scale European project. Under the coordination of VITO and EnergyVille, 33 partners from 7 countries are working together to revitalise urban areas across Europe to lead the transition to Positive Energy Neighbourhoods. In addition to Pamplona (Spain) and Tartu (Estonia), Genk was chosen as a unique test site within the project. In a co-creation process, the local residents, together with researchers, industrial partners and government institutions, are looking for the most suitable innovative concepts to achieve a positive energy neighbourhood in Genk, thus forming a unique testing ground within the Open Thor Living Lab.
The oPEN Lab project aims to identify and demonstrate replicable, commercially viable solution packages enabling positive energy buildings and neighbourhoods.
"The European Union aims to be climate-neutral by 2050, this requires full decarbonisation of existing buildings. One priority must be to redesign and retrofit our existing buildings and neighbourhoods while having a positive impact on society. The oPEN Lab project will contribute to this objective by demonstrating the feasibility of promising technologies, processes and social innovations, leading towards positive energy buildings and neighbourhoods, paving the way for wider replication", Sylvain ROBERT, Project Manager in the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency, underlines.
Living labs as innovation hotspots
"The oPEN Lab living labs will emerge as innovation hot-spots, testing and validating innovation process, technologies and services in real-life communities and settings during the duration of the project and beyond", Maarten De Groote stated, project coordinator of oPEN Lab.
The neighbourhoods and regions targeted in this project are all characterised by a history of economic decline that has resulted in poor conditions of the building stock, in need of a positive transformation. The living lab in Genk for example is located in the suburban residential neighbourhood called “Waterschei”. This neighbourhood consists of two distinct areas: a former miners’ district constructed in the 1920s and a more recent social housing district called “Nieuw Texas” built in the 1990s. Together with the suburban context, a very high level of social housing ownership (85%) in Nieuw Texas, and the nearby presence of former mines, represent a unique opportunity for large-scale, real-life demonstrations of promising technology, renovation processes, and social innovation toward the creation of a Positive Energy Neighbourhood.
Collaboration and participation with local citizens take center stage in this reconversion process. in a co-creation process, the local residents, together with researchers, industrial partners and government institutions, are looking for the most suitable innovative concepts to initiate the transition to a positive energy district in the Waterschei and New Texas garden districts. These concepts are applied and tested in 33 homes in the district, which together form an innovative testing environment within the Open Thor Living Lab.
oPEN Lab is a collaboration between 33 international players from 7 countries, of which the following Belgian partners:
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Framework Programme under Grant agreement ID: 101037080.