The Belgian class of graduates, Source: Espace Environnement website

Franco-Belgian project trains people in eco-construction by building social housing

Franco-Belgian project trains people in eco-construction by building social housing

The graduates had to build two tiny houses on the Belgian side and two on the French side

Today, the first group of 10 eco-construction specialists in the Franco-Belgian border region graduated from a one-year programme aimed at teaching them sustainable concepts and practical skills in the field of architecture.

Тheir final assessment project consisted in building two eco-friendly tiny houses, that will serve as emergency accommodation for the homeless in the region of Mons in Belgium. Furthermore, another two tiny houses will be inaugurated on 19 November, over on the French side, in the town of Maubeuge.

The Tiny-house movement combines architectural and social practices with the idea of downsizing the way people live. The concept proposes that an efficient way to solve congestion, pollution and the affordable housing problem is to build smaller dwellings. Usually, a 'tiny house' is built with sustainability in mind and features solar panels, rainwater recycling systems and carbon-efficient building materials. 

Creating a better workforce

Espace Environnement, a Belgian NGO, initiated the eco-construction training programme with funds from the Interreg Europe programme, aiming for better integration in border regions. It is called CE2S, and its goal is to train flexible and adaptable workers to fuel a drive towards sustainable construction.

Furthermore, currently, there is no educational alternative for the complex set of theoretical and practical skills required for eco-construction on both sides of the border. CE2S wants to create a more qualified workforce, but it also wants to make sure its graduates are able to apply their skills. Thus, they also help with job seeking when the training cycle is over.

Education with a positive by-product

The CE2S educational model provides a trifecta of positive outcomes. It provides people with skills and education, promotes environmentally respectful practices and results in the creation of tiny houses that can later be used by local authorities as welfare facilities.

The first set of two houses were handed over to the Belgian border town of Mons’ Public Centre for Social Welfare. The second set of houses will be inaugurated on 19 November on the French side and will be handed to social services in the town of Maubeuge.

On both sides of the border, the housing units are meant to be used as emergency accommodation before reintegrating the homeless into permanent housing.

Marie Meunier, President of the Public Centre for Social Welfare in Mons was quoted in a press release, saying: “It is from a desire to strengthen our fight against social emergency issues that the tiny houses’ project was born. These accommodations are intended, on both sides of the border, to house people in precarious situations. It seemed important to us that solidarity and social inclusion be an integral part of the project."



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