E=0 & Transition Zero: create a mass market for net zero energy buildings retrofitting

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An affordable and convenient home upgrade

Simplifying energy efficiency retrofitting

Energy efficiency retrofitting in buildings – swapping old solutions for new and more energy efficient ones – can be complicated and expensive. But, with the need to boost energy efficiency in buildings to meet the EU’s climate and energy goals, and with the savings it brings for heating bills, it is becoming increasingly essential.

One innovative project – supported by the EU’s Horizon 2020 Transition Zero and Interreg E=0 programmes – is helping to overcome the hurdles to energy efficiency retrofitting by creating a comprehensive, quick, one-time home upgrade programme for social housing. Based in Paris, France, E=0 & Transition Zero’s goal is to make energy efficiency retrofitting an easy process and as low cost as possible.

“Before our upgrades, homes were not as energy efficient as they should have been and residents were daunted by complicated internal wall insulation. Plus, they did not want builders in their homes for weeks or expensive loans. Our solution overcame all of their concerns and made the whole process manageable,” said Sébastien Delpont, manager of the market development team in France.

Smooth, low-cost customer experience

To achieve the low-cost objective, tenants make a change in the way they pay their bills: prior to the retrofit, tenants paid their rent to their housing provider and their energy bills separately to a utility company. Afterwards, much less is paid to the energy utility and the savings are redirected to the social housing provider to cover the cost of the retrofit.

To reach the goal of a convenient energy efficiency upgrade, E=0 & Transition Zero first sends a team of experts who come and take a 3D scan of the building to record its dimensions. Back in their offices, they design a new, prefabricated house facade, a new insulated roof equipped with solar panels, insulated walls and new smart heating and cooling installations.

“We want the customer experience to be great. The meticulous planning and offsite manufacturing minimises the time of contractors onsite, residents can remain in place and major works are completed within 1 to 2 weeks,” said Delpont.

Residents are consulted on the design of the upgrades and, once work is completed, they immediately benefit from a total home comfort upgrade, while continuing to pay a similar monthly bill. The refurbishment delivers a consistent temperature of 21°C in the home’s main living area, at least 140 litres of hot water per day, a comfortable home that is neither stuffy, noisy, nor prone to overheating – all at much lower energy costs. Once a home has been retrofitted, its high levels of energy performance are guaranteed for 30 years.

Transforming social housing across Europe

The project is designed to be replicable and scalable for the mass market across Europe. It aims to transform entire social housing neighbourhoods into desirable, net-zero energy zones with a long-term quality guarantee. In the future, the project also hopes to include private housing.

The initial concept was born in the Netherlands, in The Hague and Rotterdam, where 4,500 homes have successfully been retrofitted to date. In addition to the 4,500 houses in the Netherlands, in France, 6,550 retrofits are planned, and in the UK 155 homes are set for a retrofit.