Context: Housing, Energy and Sustainability in Argentina

In light of the major housing deficit in Argentina, the national government through its Federal Housing Plan builds around 36,000 homes annually (http://www.vivienda.gov.ar).

Construction is based on living space needs and a reduced budget, not on energy efficiency criteria. Therefore, each year Argentina adds thousands of homes which could be more sustainable in the short and long-term.

Energy efficiency is a vital element in improving quality of life and economic standing in poor communities. In Argentina, low-income sectors actually pay more for energy (in absolute terms and in terms of percentage of household incomes) than the middle and upper classes, paying up to 5 times more for natural gas, for example.

In terms of poverty, factors such as energy, housing, and the environment are urgent matters that need to be specifically addressed. Since poor families don’t have stable incomes and live in sub-standard housing, it comes to no surprise that the energy crisis and environmental perils fall most heavily upon underprivileged families.

The three pillars of sustainability (society, environment, and economy) are intimately linked to housing and energy. A home that stops wasting energy will improve the quality of life of its inhabitants, improve their economic situation, increase the availability of energy for other sectors, and decrease CO2 emission levels.

In Argentina there exists a general lack of consciousness surrounding energy efficiency in buildings (housing, towers, commercial areas, etc.), renewable energies, and the environmental impact of fossil fuels. Currently Argentine society does not promote energy efficiency in buildings and lacks a national renewable energy industry, and instead is relying on imports to satisfy the country’s energy needs.

This fact is especially important when we consider the following: In Argentina, buildings use 36% of the country’s total energy demand, they are also responsible for 24% of gas emissions that cause the greenhouse effect, and they produce 50% of the country’s solid waste. In addition, they produce 60% of wastewater, 20% of air pollution, and 35% of thermal pollution.

In this context, the priorities of FOVISEE’s initiative are to introduce sustainability criteria and technology in social housing, thus benefiting the poorer sectors in society. FOVISEE prioritizes sustainability due to its range of benefits, which include: improving the economic standing of families, improving their health through better hygiene, and decreasing the environmental impact of housing. Additionally, the FOVISEE initiative aims to insert sustainable social housing in the local and national government agendas.

In more general terms, due to Argentina’s general lack of energy efficiency and environmental consciousness and regulation in both the public and private spheres, FOVISEE also aims to disseminate the importance of sustainability in housing and buildings through its international conferences where representatives from NGO’s, governments and the private sector participate.

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