Tackling fuel poverty in Ciutat Meridiana (Barcelona)

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Background:Fuel Poverty is not legally recognised in Spain although almost 6% of the population cannot keep their homes warm according to 2011 European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions. Ecoserveis is a non profit organization working in the field of fuel poverty since 2007, being pioneers in tackling this problem in Spain.

One of our local case studies is based in one Barcelona’s neighbourhoods, Ciutat Meridiana, an area that was firstly assigned to become a cemetery and rejected later because of an excess of humidity.  However, in late 60’s, this was not an impediment to create a “residential area” and nowadays, 13.197 people live there. In 1970, when the area was 3 years old, more than 300 formal complaints were presented reporting humidity problems in the apartments. This area is a typical example of what was called “social housing” for worker masses.

Map of Barcelona

To synthesise:

  • All dwellings in this area are oriented to the North so there are few hours with direct sunlight.
  • Due to this fact, most of the apartments suffer from humidity and are cold houses.
  • As the area was built for the work class, dwellings are from bad materials and with a poor insulation.
  • Concerning fuel payments, in a preliminary contact with social workers, they have explained that people living in this area (low income, immigrants, etc) can’t control their domestic economy which includes energy bills.

One out of three neighbours is immigrant and in their countries of origin, the concept of “energy supply” is not common. This is why we have dedicated special attention to this group.

Aims and objectives:
The idea of this action is to form and inform newcomers about electricity and gas supply in Spain.
In different sessions, they:

  • understand energy bills
  • learn about energy saving measures at home
  • discover mechanisms to overcome difficulties while paying energy bills

The action is based in a regular two hour session with immigrant people who attend a domestic economy course organized by the church in this neighbourhood and coordinated by the social worker Esperanza Borrull.


Participants are mainly from Pakistan and Morocco. They come from different cultures and they use energy in a different way, so it is quite challenging to deal with different backgrounds. Also language becomes, sometimes, a technical barrier but it does not affect the final result.


A total of thirty people have been trained in 2012 which means, one hundred people reached, as more than four people live in each house. Attendees reduce their energy bills and are more prepared to overcome winter and high temperatures in summer. The idea is to continue tackling fuel poverty in this area so this local action will be active in 2013 too

.Ecoserveis training photo Ecoserveis training photo

Contact details:
Name: Marta Garcia
Job title: Project Manager
City/town: Barcelona
Country: Spain
E-mail: marta@ecoserveis.net

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