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Nicolás combines the concepts of energy, housing and sustainability in a series of initiatives aimed at improving housing conditions and the quality of life of people in the poorest sectors of society in Latin America. FOVISEE, along with Weatherizers Without Borders, the organization he founded, promotes a range of solutions to improve sustainability in homes, that can be reproduced on a large scale with a focus on serving the most vulnerable communities.

This profile below was prepared when Nicolas Maggio was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship .


Nicolás combines the concepts of energy, housing and sustainability in a series of initiatives aimed at improving housing conditions and the quality of life of people in the poorest sectors of society in Latin America. FOVISEE, along with Weatherizers Without Borders, the organization he founded, promotes a range of solutions to improve sustainability in homes, that can be reproduced on a large scale with a focus on serving the most vulnerable communities.


Nicolas is merging the concepts of energy, housing and sustainability into a tangible, up to date and contextualized series of original development initiatives aimed at improving the housing conditions and living standards of the poorest sections of society in Uruguay and Argentina. His organization, FOVISEE has created a series of feasible solutions that can be replicated at a larger scale where the low-income sectors of the society are the first beneficiaries of these solutions for housing-energy-sustainability. The projects that FOVISEE develops addresses the problem with the feasibility of the solution as the primary variable. In connection with sustainability and housing, many of the proposals end up being counterproductive for suggesting expensive, sophisticated and inappropriate options, which only work for a small, high-income group. FOVISEE / WWB’s idea is innovative as it states that every house is sustainable or has the potential to be more sustainable. This is of particular value to the poor and medium-low income socioeconomic levels of society. In Argentina, organizations generally work on only one of these topics (energy, housing or sustainability). Public policy and university curricula also follow this trend. Housing programs for example do not tend to focus on the energy consumption of the houses, nor on their environmental impact. Energy policies typically are not aimed at improving household’s energy use, and sustainability programmes tend to be so broad that they lose effectiveness when it comes to reality. Nicolas believes that civil society organizations should partner with the State, benefiting from each stakeholder’s virtues: NGOs providing versatility, agility and flexibility and readiness for innovation, and the State contributing its massive scope, universality of intervention and long-term perspective. For example, the idea of suggesting solar thermal energy (STE) as an alternative which can be potentially replicated on a massive scale in the short and medium term, led FOVISEE to build the first social-housing/low-income neighbourhood with solar thermal energy in Buenos Aires. At the same time, in 2015, the idea of suggesting a model of public policies led them to incorporate a number of digital technologies to produce information on the consumption patterns of sanitary hot water. This lead to an innovative project of solar thermal energy in the social housing space. FOVISEE is generating information unknown both in Agentina, Uruguay and in the region as to what the actual patterns of use of hot water are in social housing or low-income households. The information generated by this project has the potential to shape STE public policies conceived, designed and tested for this target population. For Nicolas, the target population are the millions of families in the region suffering the consequences of inadequate housing as well as poor housing-energy-sustainability conditions.


According to an IDB study in 2012, one in every three families in Latin America and the Caribbean - a total of 59 million people, either live in inadequate houses built with precarious materials or housing lacking basic services. Nearly two million of the three million new families that migrate to Latin American cities each year are forced to settle in informal housing. This is due to an insufficient supply of adequate and affordable housing. This data points to the fact that the biggest housing problem is related to the housing conditions and its qualitative deficits more than it is to homelessness. The homes of the lowest income families pay significantly more for energy supply due to the price of wood and gas (LPG). In Argentina, organizations generally address the issue in a disjointed manner or with incomplete vision (be it energy, housing or sustainability). Housing programs do not tend to have a focus on the energy consumption of such housing, nor on the environmental impact. Energy policies have never factored in the residential use of this resource, and sustainability programs are so broad that they lose effectiveness as they are tested with reality. The poorest sectors bear the brunt of this housing-energy-environment issue. This above all things prevents the achievement of a minimum quality of life. It also requires a higher percentage of the government budget to access energy as well as relatively high levels of energy waste product for these poor housing conditions and basic technologies. Some of the implications of the sectors with fewer resources over the lack of sustainable access to energy are embodied in the following ways: poor electrical installations, poor air conditioning in the houses, poor gas facilities (when there is access to a gas network), poor access to hot water. All these factors bring with them higher costs in maintenance when the housing conditions are still precarious. They also diminish the quality of life, for example, by poisoning, respiratory problems, skin diseases and impact of these factors on the emotional state of these families. In addition, with the past elections, there has been a complete change in the national energy program which will imply cutting the subsidies for energy that has been taking part in energy supply by the government. This situation is raising unexpected community awareness of the real price for energy that was previously covered by the state. The new government plan is to move gradually to a metric that incorporates renewable supply, but in the meantime there is a very unclear scenario with home taxes rates for gas and electricity that have increased by up to 400%.


Nicolas believes that each home is ultimately sustainable, or has the potential to be more sustainable. To carry this belief into practice, he founded FOVISEE with the idea of thinking about the triad of "home-energy-sustainability" as a whole. The goal is to improve the conditions of poor and lower middle class families by channeling the work FOVISEE does so that it can influence public policy. FOVISEE argues that civil society organizations can partner with the state, in turn strengthening its policies. This includes NGOs providing versatility, agility and flexibility and readiness for innovation, and the State contributing its massive scope, to make intervention universal in a long-term perspective. Nicolas began his work in the Municipality of Rosario, a city of 950,000 people located 306 kilometers from Buenos Aires. In this municipality he launched the plan to make sustainable homes, in 2012 with the support of CAF. In 2013 the program “Sustentabilizar Hogares” won the Fund of the Americas Award. This enabled Nicolas to develop the initiative in the Municipality of Campana (Buenos Aires Province) reaching 100 households. In 2015, Nicolás got the support of CAF-Development Bank of Latin America to develop a first pilot plan to implement the initiative in Montevideo, Uruguay. This pilot project led Nicolás to foresee the resources he would require. He already started to build the talent for his program. He developed a curriculum through which young people are trained to develop the homes included in the municipality home improvement plans. He has also developed the content to train company volunteers to do similar work through volunteer programs. FOVISEE developed the "Manual for Sustainable Use of Housing," which compiles user instructions of Housing, as well as focuses on sustainability under the bases of case studies of households in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires. This manual works on three topics: energy, water, and waste. The manual was printed and distributed in more than 12 cities and towns in Argentina. It was a success and the manual was well received. The municipality of Rosario then requested an edition especially adapted to Rosario. FOVISEE is now currently in discussions with various cities throughout the country and the region to take, adapt and replicate the manual. Nicolas and his team work on the design of public policies by applying the developments generated by FOVISEE. For pilot schemes they manage funds from different sources (companies, international funds, etc.) and then work to identify existing funds in each place for future replication of the program so as to ensure its sustainability. The local allies are trained to reach each of the decision makers (local, provincial or national governments) to become program leaders at the place where it is implemented. Recently, FOVISEE developed a system based on solar thermal energy (STE) as an alternative to the existing heating system. This option was adapted to the Buenos Aires context and was a pitch to change the dependency of a quarter of the social housing projects in the city to solar energy. In 2015, this allowed the development of a series of digital measurement technologies to produce information on the consumption patterns of hot water in these communities. This information was absolutely unprecedented and creates opportunities for adjustments to public policies in this field. The project was developed with the support of INTI (National Technological Institute) and the power company Edenor, and was declared of public interest by the National Congress. It has 200 people directly benefited and a potential to reach millions of people in the short term. To this end, they have been associated with the public, private sector and civil society (German Embassy in Buenos Aires, INTI, ITBA, Municipality of Moreno, specialists of the University of Buenos Aires, UTN, Edenor company, manufacturers of Solar Thermal Energy, etc.) In 2010, Nicolas was invited as a speaker at the international conference "Building with Energy Efficiency and Sustainability" in Rio de Janeiro. At the meeting, organized by the United States Department of State, US Embassy in Brazil; the Brazilian Council for Sustainable Construction (CBCS) allowed him to expand his network and meet other sustainable development initiatives. There, he saw a public policy that the United States developed and has been practicing for over 30 years. It had never been replicated outside the country. Nicolas set out to create the conditions to replicate this policy, with the necessary adjustments to the Latin American context. This resulted in him creating "Weatherizers Without Borders - WWB" having its base in the US. He is the President and CEO. Nicolas has integrated the work of FOVISEE and Weatherizers Without Borders resulting in the development of numerous training events and dissemination of the approach and methodology. Among them: more than five years developing and coordinating the international “Conference on Housing, Sustainability and Energy " with experts participation from the US, Brazil, Uruguay, Mendoza and Buenos Aires. Cover the Implementation Group Project of Sustainable Habitat and Energy (GAPHSEE) together with the National Technological University FRD, group of which he serves as Executive Director until the end of 2014. In May 2014, he organized the "Inter-American weatherization Exchange program" which has its first meeting in Montevideo with the participation of the National Energy Executive Department of Uruguay, the OAS and officials and experts from Chile, Uruguay, Peru, USA and Argentina. In February 2015, a conference was organized at the headquarters of the OAS in Washington with officials and specialists from different countries. These activities enabled WWB in 2015 to receive its first international contract with the Government of Uruguay to transfer the Weatherization program to that country. He is currently working on developing an air cooling housing draft, applying principles of geothermal science. The applied research project is supported by the German Embassy, the Municipality of Moreno, ITBA and other partners. They are in the research stage, which will then allow a similar application to other projects. Right now, his initiative has gained momentum due to the last political changes around energy supply distribution. The scenario is moving fast and Nicolás has great experience and credibility to play a key role in supporting the government on public policy improvement.


Nicolas was interested in sociology early on in life. He has a desire to learn how to make the world a better place by changing what does not work, and generating better options for society. In 2002, being a sociology student he began to work as an intern in the company Edenor. Here, he learned about the importance of home-energy-sustainability and the urgency of improving this equation in the poorest sectors of society. In that time, he also saw that in Argentina there were no organizations that were devoted to that specific task, neither from the generation of information and knowledge, nor from the proposal and implementation of solutions. There he learned from his chief engineers, architecture, sociology, marketing, management colleagues, etc. He had the opportunity to travel and see how these topics were developed in different parts of the world. He began to see the potential for tackling issues through creating partnerships with various stakeholders in society in the form of generating alliances by multiple actors, through a private company. In 2010 he left the company and founded the FOVISEE Foundation. He invested his personal resources to give the foundation somewhat of a start. During the first 4 years of operation, he allocated part of their income from his work as a human rights expert to address various aspects of the Foundation. To date, he works on a voluntary basis at the Foundation, while he is developing the conditions that allow him to support himself and dedicate himself entirely to this field. Nicolas aspires to consolidate this field that integrates housing, energy and sustainability, and to assist governments to translate this response in state programs, reaching the poorest families in the country and the region.