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Horizon 2020 (Posted 10.02.2016)

Boost for uptake of net-zero energy refurbishments of domestic properties.

The European Commission recently announced €3.6 million of Horizon 2020 grant funding to roll out the innovative Dutch Energiesprong housing refurbishment approach, the aim being to stimulate mass uptake of net-zero energy refurbishments of domestic properties in a number of other European countries, including the UK.

Energiesprong is a revolutionary approach to delivering attractive ‘whole-house’ refurbishments with a net-zero energy performance guarantee that makes the solution commercially financeable and scalable. Kick-started in the Netherlands, the programme has already delivered over 500 net-zero energy refurbishments as part of a 111,000 volume deal between housing associations and industry.

Energiesprong works because it delivers results whilst being an attractive offer for contractors, housing providers and residents. Unlike existing refurbishment models, Energiesprong uses an energy performance contract to guarantee the performance of the improvements over a long-term (minimum 30-year) period. This provides financial security to the property owner, giving an assurance that the property will perform at the expected level. The extra risk to the contractor is made a viable business proposition by a guaranteed number of properties delivered through the programme.

Using an outcome-based procurement approach based around available investment and defined energy parameters, suppliers are encouraged to design and engineer completely new solutions with their supply chain partners. The resulting innovation drives down the cost of the solution.

Following a visit to the Netherlands in early 2015, a group of leading social housing providers, construction companies, trade bodies and expert organisations came together to form Energiesprong UK - with the intention of creating a ‘game-changing’ refurbishment sector in the UK, inspired by the Dutch Energiesprong approach.

Energiesprong UK led the multi-national ‘Transition Zero’ bid for funds from Horizon 2020, the largest research and innovation programme of the European Commission. The bid was to scale up the success of Energiesprong internationally. In its assessment report, the Commission credited the Energiesprong bid for its radical aim to introduce a similar approach into the UK and France, while developing the Dutch implementation even further.

The grant is for up to €3.6 million for the next three years. It will be used to kick-start net-zero refurbishment markets in the UK and France, using the social housing sector as a catalyst.

This will be achieved by:
• Stimulating increased demand for net-zero energy refurbishment solutions.
• Improving the regulatory and financing conditions for such solutions.
• Mobilising the construction sector to revolutionise its existing retrofit building processes through the development of stronger supply chain integration, product-focused collaboration and industry-led innovation.

In the UK, this process has already started and Energiesprong UK has taken the first steps in driving new approaches to net-zero refurbishments based on a commercial business model.

The EU grant is for three years. The money won’t be used to fund Energiesprong solutions themselves but will enable Energiesprong UK to significantly increase the capacity of its independent market development team so that solutions can be developed quickly within the current financial, planning and regulatory environment.

At the same time, Energiesprong UK is identifying opportunities where a smarter combination of policy, funding and regulation could pave the way for a mass scaling of net-zero refurbishments. Energiesprong is committed to bringing about a viable net-zero energy refurbishment market at scale, which will provide desirable, warm and affordable homes for life. This will be achieved through brokering an initial 5,000 volume deal in the UK and France. This will provide an excellent market opportunity for industry; if 5,000 refurbishments can be delivered on a commercial basis, this will set the scene for a much wider roll-out, including into the private owner-occupier sector.

Commenting on the grant funding, Programme Director, Arno Schmickler, said:
"Thanks to European funding, Energiesprong will open up a scalable net-zero energy refurbishment market for UK businesses. Creating desirable, warm and affordable homes provides a unique opportunity to transform homes and communities.

“I’m looking forward to working with the Energiesprong partners to challenge the ‘business as usual’ approach and I’m excited that a number of forward-thinking housing providers and industry leaders are already committed to making net-zero energy refurbishments a reality in the UK.”