Date & Location: 23.09.2021

[Webinar] US-EU exchange: How to achieve energy-efficient and affordable housing

What are the EU and US objectives and initiatives in place to combat energy poverty and lead a just, green transition?

This event has passed. You can find the presentations here and watch the recording of the webinar below.

When: Thursday, September 23rd, 4:00-6:00pm CEST | 10:00-12:00am EST

Following the first webinar of our US-EU exchange series on advancing the transatlantic economic recovery with building renovation and clean energy solutions, the second focused on the EU and US objectives and initiatives to achieve energy efficient and affordable housing. Energy poverty is a growing issue globally and affordable and energy efficient housing is essential to combat energy poverty while leading a just, green transition.

With an ever-increasing amount of extreme weather, the ability to heat and cool homes affordably and without severe environmental impact is more essential than ever. However, financing such measures and upgrades can be difficult, especially for vulnerable and energy-poor communities. 

While energy efficiency measures can lead to significant financial savings in the long-run, capital costs can inhibit implementation for vulnerable households or affordable housing companies. Energy retrofitting of affordable housing therefore faces specific financial challenges, but also has the potential benefit to simultaneously improve energy efficiency, health, and wellbeing.  

The webinar provided an overarching view of the nexus between affordable, efficient housing and a just transition. The panel discussion took a deeper look at some programmes in the EU and US targeting energy poverty and solutions to address the challenge of energy poverty, affordable housing, and energy efficiency. 

Learn more about the US-EU partnership here.



Housekeeping and agenda: Oliver Rapf, Executive Director, BPIE

Session 1: The role of energy efficient buildings in a just transition

  • Keynote – The way forward: the importance of affordable, efficient housing in the EU
    Kim van Sparrentak, Member of the European Parliament for the Greens/EFA group and rapporteur on the report ‘decent and affordable housing for all’ – The EU Affordable Housing Initiative (European Commission)
  • Keynote – Theodore Toon, Director for Housing Efficiency at the White House Council on Environmental Quality
  • Q+A session

Session 2: Making energy efficiency happen – affordable housing programmes in progress

  • Tanya Hristova, Mayor of Gabrovo
  • Andrea Mancino, Executive Vice President, New York, Bright Power
  • Marine Cornelis, Executive Director, Next Energy Consumer
  • Maria Vargas, Senior Program Advisor, US Department of Energy
  • Q+A session

Closing remarks: Karel Vanderpoorten, Policy Officer Social Economy, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission


Theodore Toon, Director for Housing Efficiency at the White House Council on Environmental Quality

Ted Toon is a professional in residential sustainability and resilience, housing finance, and affordable housing. He is Director for Housing Efficiency at the White House, Council on Environmental Quality, where he leads federal policy toward decarbonization. Prior, he was Senior Advisor, Housing and Sustainability to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)/Federal Housing Administration (FHA). In 2016, Ted was Senior Policy Advisor to the White House, Office of Management and Budget, Energy and Environment team. From 2001-2016, Ted held various roles with the US Department of HUD, including directing FHA’s multifamily mortgage division, leading the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, and originating the Green Retrofit Program. He holds undergraduate degrees in Business, and Environmental Design, from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and earned a Master of Real Estate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Ted is also accredited through the US Green Building Council as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) AP (Accredited Professional) in Building Design and Construction.

Kim van Sparrentak – Member of the European Parliament for the Greens/EFA group and rapporteur on the report ‘decent and affordable housing for all’

From climate activist to internal market politician
Kim studied Political Science and Urban Environmental Management and during her studies was active as a co-chair at DWARS Amsterdam.  With the Young European Greens (FYEG), Kim was a member of the climate and energy working group. Later on, she started working as mobility communication officer at Milieudefensie and was elected as co-president of FYEG. Here she represented more than 10,000 European young people in their fight against climate change. In 2019 Kim was elected MEP for GroenLinks, before this she worked at WISE where she campaigned for the closure of nuclear power plants in Belgium.
Parliament committees
IMCO (Internal Market and Consumer Protection): In the IMCO committee, Kim works to reduce excessive market forces in the European Union that obstruct good healthcare, affordable housing or free internet. Kim is committed to European market rules that contribute to the sustainability of the economy, strong public services and better consumer protection, both online and offline. Within IMCO, Kim also works for a free, safe and democratic internet and to break the power of Big Tech over our society.
EMPL (Employment and Social Affairs): Kim is convinced that the European Union should work for social justice and good social minimum standards. That is why, in the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, she is committed to affordable housing and good working conditions as well as the protection of all types of workers in a rapidly changing economy. 
AIDA (Artificial Intelligence in the Digital Age): The Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in the Digital Age has been appointed to develop a long-term vision, goals and next steps on artificial intelligence on behalf of the European Parliament. Within this committee, Kim is committed to AI that serves society and respects fundamental rights. She focuses on non-discrimination, AI and sustainability and protecting workers when using AI in the workplace.

Andrea Mancino, Executive Vice President, New York, Bright Power

Andrea leads the operations of Bright Power’s New York business unit. Pairing her deep technical expertise in building sustainable, high performing projects with an ability to create and execute efficient business processes, Andrea’s goal is to ensure the financial success of the business unit while delivering strong, proven services to our New York-based clients. Andrea is also very active in the industry, consulting with government agencies, green building programs, clients, and product manufacturers to ensure efficiency and sustainability goals can be met through proper goal setting and alignment. Andrea is an active volunteer for GreenHomeNYC and is a proud member of the Women in Construction advocacy group. She also is a Board Member for Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) and a 2019 Environmental + Energy Leader 100 honoree.

Maria Vargas, Senior Program Advisor, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, US Department of Energy

Maria T. Vargas is a Senior Program Advisor and the Director of Better Buildings Initiative at the US Department of Energy. Through Better Buildings, DOE works with hundreds of leaders in the public and private sectors to make U.S. buildings at least 20 percent more efficient in the next decade. Hundreds of chief executive officers, university presidents, and state and local leaders are partnering with DOE, upgrading buildings across their portfolios, and sharing innovative solutions and strategies as models for others to follow. Ms. Vargas also serves as the Lead DOE Ambassador for the US C3E.  Prior to her work at DOE, Ms. Vargas was the Brand Manager for the ENERGY STAR program for almost 20 years while at the US Environmental Protection Agency and has been involved in policy work on the issues of ozone depletion, global climate change, and related environmental and energy issues since 1985. Ms. Vargas was inducted in the Energy Efficiency Hall of Fame in 2014.

Karel Vanderpoorten, Policy Officer Social Economy, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission

Mr. Vanderpoorten is currently policy officer Social Economy in DG GROW and focuses mainly on the following themes: affordable housing, the use of digitisation and new technologies within the social economy, scaling up social business models, the creation of local business partnerships between traditional and social economy enterprises, clusters for social and ecological innovation and financing opportunities for social economy.

Tanya Hristova, Mayor of Gabrovo

Tanya Hristova is Mayor of Gabrovo since 2011. She holds two Master’s degrees in English Philology and Finance from St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Turnovo. In the period 2007-2010, she was deputy mayor on sustainable development of Gabrovo Municipality as part of the team of the then mayor. From 2010 until she was elected mayor in 2011, she was head of the cabinet of the EU funds management minister. She is a member of the European Committee of the Regions since 2012 and a full member of the Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER) and Commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, research and Culture (SEDEC). Mrs. Hristova is a Covenant of mayors ambassador and a chairperson of the managing council of the municipal network on energy efficiency „EcoEnergy“.

Marine Cornelis, Executive Director, Next Energy Consumer

Marine Cornelis is the executive director and founder of Next Energy Consumer, a policy consultancy focused on the social aspects of the energy and climate transitions at European and international levels. Her work bridges the needs and experience of civil society, scientific communities, businesses and policymakers, in the energy and climate transitions. Her commitment enabled Marine to be appointed one of the first ambassadors of the European Climate Pact. Before Next Energy Consumer, Marine served as the Secretary-General of NEON, the European network of energy dispute resolution services and ombudsmen, in Brussels. Marine is a French national with perfect command of English and Italian. She holds a MA in political sciences (Sciences Po Lille, France) and economics (University of Lille, France). More information about her activities and projects can be found on her website:

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