RenovActive provides a scalable solution to social housing renovation in Belgium

The RenovActive concept offers a simple, innovative and affordable solution to the renovation challenge. It is an example of how to transform European housing into healthy and sustainable living space.

Affordable, easy to reproduce and scalable

These were the main criteria set up for the RenovActive project in Anderlecht, Belgium. The aim of the renovation project was to test the Active House principles in social housing and single-family homes where cost, comfort and energy efficiency have to go hand in hand.

The main goal of RenovActive is to prove the financial viability of Active House renovation in social housing schemes across Europe. The estimated renovation costs associated with RenovActive met the tight budget framework of social housing in Brussels and the requirements set up in the Energy Performance of Buildings (EPB) standard.

Dividing the concept into seven individual building elements makes it possible to create an exact match between the financial plan of the project and the different requirements of the housing company. The affordability is based on the proven quality of each element as well as the different solutions’ ability to be reproduced, allowing economies of scale to take effect.

Activehouse logo

RenovActive Concept in speed-drawing

Seven elements for affordable climate renovation

3D House model - roof

Attic conversion

Growing from within

Utilizing the upper floor’s potential; this first densification element identifies idle areas and converts them into first class living areas. For an attic conversion the space is designed with daylight in mind, creating more space with plenty of natural lighting, improved ventilation and heat control.

3D House model - windows

Increased window area

Daylight treatment 

Large façade and roof windows increase the level, and inparticular the quality, of daylight. A balanced distribution of windows ensures a pleasant and bright indoor environment with plenty of daylight in every room and on every floor.

3D House model - airflow

Staircase shaft for daylight & ventilation

Respiratory channel 

An open stairwell guarantees enhanced daylight distribution and efficient airing via the stack effect. Daylight is distributed to all floors and central rooms of the home. Furthermore, the stack effect helps to expel humid exhaust air through the roof windows at the top of the staircase, while clean air fills the home via open doors and windows.

3D House model - window blinds

Dynamic sunscreening

3rd skin

A dynamic envelope is vital to ensure good indoor comfort with pleasant temperatures day and night as well as during all seasons, particularly in the shoulder seasons. Dynamic external sun screening, e.g. awning blinds, reduces solar heating during summer.

3D House model - light

Hybrid ventilation system

Hybrid respiration

The hybrid ventilation system combines mechanical and natural ventilation with automated windows and heating. During the summer, windows and stairwell are used to provide natural cooling in the building, e.g. using the stack effect for efficient air replacement. During the winter, mechanical ventilation helps to maintain good indoor air quality and reduce the risk of draught.

3D House model - heating

Improved thermal envelope


The thermal envelope consists of a façade climate shield and a modern heating system, optimizing energy performance and thermal indoor comfort. Work on the façade comprises extra surface insulation, a new roof construction and new windows all around. The upgraded heating system includes floor heating as well as modern radiators on upstairs levels.

3D House model - side building

Building extension 

New life space

Building an extension adds precious square meters to the home and creates room for extra people. An extension is subject to the size of the plot and surrounding terrain.

Photos: Adam Mørk, Valerie Van Thorre

From one to many – the RenovActive House is spearheading a trend

After the RenovActive House was handed over to its first tenants in May 2017, the concept  was then replicated in the surrounding Bon Air community. Following the inauguration of the first house in May 2016, the authorities gave permission to implement the renovation concept in 86 similar homes, owned by Le Foyer Anderlechtois. The majority of these homes will experience exactly the same transformation, including the construction of a central staircase with automated roof windows at the top, a better inclusion of daylight, improved insulation and an intelligent hybrid ventilation system, combining natural and mechanical ventilation.

The Bon Air district is located in an old garden city and contains public housing as well as a large number of private properties. Le Foyer Anderlechtois has 225 houses of the same building type in the area.