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Great EFL Spring Conference in Lille

by | May 16, 2017


The 2017 European Federation for Living Spring Conference

On May 10-11, the members and associates of EFL gathered together once again for a bi-annual meeting, held this time in the beautiful city of Lille. The Conference was unprecedented in terms of both its size and the scope of its themes. The two-day event also attracted a number of external interested parties who traveled to Nord-Pas de Calais on Tuesday to attend the first day program, which was fully dedicated to our line up of great speakers which provided a view on almost each aspect of sustainable development.

Lille was an appropriate location for this year’s Spring Conference for multiple reasons: the Euralille centre, with its TGV (High Speed Train) station, Congress venue (Lille Grand Palais), offices, hotels and a casino, confirms the position of the Lille area on the European map of tourism and trade events. With a population of almost 220 000 inhabitants, Lille claims its place as the tenth largest city and fourth largest metropolis (1.9 million inhabitants including 700 000 over the Belgian border) in France. Lille is a vibrant, young and dynamic city that has undergone rapid growth over the past couple of decades. 

Hosted by EFL Member Vilogia, the Conference was organized around the interlinked themes of energy, sustainable development and innovation. The first day program included a number of lectures. Mr. Claude Lenglet kicked off the morning program, presenting how Lille and its surroundings (Haut de France) currently turn towards one of the most innovative and carbon free regions of Europe thanks to the ideas of the famous Jeremy Rifkin (3rd Industrial Revolution).

Energiesprong France, following the Dutch examples of a fast renovation and reducing the energy demand to almost zero, was presented by Sebastien Delpont. After this informative speech in which examples from EFL member Vilogia were shown, four innovative French start up companies showed their products during 5 minute pitches.

Mrs. Elena Szolgayova from the UN’s Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) highlighted the morning program with a presentation on challenges to sustainable housing on different levels, European and worldwide, expressing that the development of sustainable housing in the ECE region faces multiple challenges resulting mainly from globalization, demographic changes, climate change and the economic crisis. On a more local level,Tim Caufield, Director of UIA (Urban Innovative Actions), discussed the relevance of innovative actions for social housing in Europe. Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) is an Initiative of the European Union that provides urban authorities throughout Europe with resources to test new and unproven solutions to address urban challenges. Key topics that are covered by the program are inclusion of migrants and refugees, jobs and skills, energy transition, urban poverty and mobility and circular economy.

The afternoon presentations had a financial focal point. Dr. Marcus Cieleback, Group Director Patrizia Immobilien, spoke about investment opportunities in residential real estate with an eye to sustainability which is becoming more diverse, taking into account the traditional residential segment, the operator or brand-driven segment and the private-owner-driven segment. Thorsten Huff, Director Sustainability CBRE, discussed a number of methods of successful risk management through sustainability, covering the impact of megatrends on real estate and sustainability tools for risk management. Rolf Bastiaanssen (Bax & Company) shared information about the REVALUE H2020 Project and Laurent Ghekiere, USH – Brussels, spoke about the state of housing in the EU, sharing a European perspective on social housing as a public policy with a focus on the interest of European Commission.

The day program reaches it’s close with a lecture by Nathalie Tchang from TRIBU Energie. She spoke about energy certification as a key policy instrument for reducing the energy consumption and improving the energy performance of new and existing buildings, sharing good practices of nearly zero-energy buildings. Finally, Marie Laure Marette from EFL Member Paris Habitat shared information about low carbon buildings and other sustainable operations within the organization. Francois Guidot  and Aude de Brebisson from EFL Member Polylogis Paris shared best practices from the organization, particularly the rehabilitation works of 70 housing units, a project that was chosen for a European project named TRIME (Trias Mores Energetica). 

As the Lille area boasts a vast array of historical attractions, host Vilogia had some astonishing cultural sights in store for the participants. A visit to ‘Museum la Piscine’ in Roubaix offered the possibility to experience this hidden part of the French Flanders culture. The La Piscine Museum is probably the most unusual museum of France; located in an old architectural deco art swimming pool. The contrast between the works of art and the surroundings were truly amazing.

The second conference day had an internal focus, offering workshops and lectures to the members and associates and an opportunity to consider possibilities for future shared projects. Topic Group Leaders shared the progress made from within the Topic Group and distributed the output they delivered.

The Spring Conference closed with a visit to the Euralille district, an urban quarter in Lille and European business district. We congratulate the successful completion of the 2017 Spring Conference and look forward to the next meeting, which is to be held in Gent, Belgium coming November.

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