Energie Sprong – The Radical Approach To Fuel Efficiency
Energie Sprong is a pioneering approach to energy efficient buildings. It has been developed in The Netherlands in order to retrofit old buildings with modern energy efficiency standards. The term ‘energie sprong’ is Dutch for ‘energy leap’. Household energy usage can be transformed by the Dutch initiative. A method exists to transform existing houses to become highly insulated, net zero houses. Net zero energy means that the house generates as much energy as is needed for the house. The energy should provide lighting, heating and other domestic needs. It utilises a make over to the house to reduce drafts, improve the energy efficiency and provide new technologies that reduce carbon emissions.
It relies upon three approaches to make a successful project:
- Firstly secure a first market (e.g. by housing associations)
- Provide a regulatory framework through government regulation changes
- Ensure there is affordable financing to social housing associations
The approach uses a mechanised and mass produced approach that aims to be efficient. Buildings are enclosed in a “new shell” that is manufactured specifically to that building. There is typically a well insulated new roof which incorporates solar photo voltaic (PV) panels. Payments for the work aim to reduce energy costs over a 30 year period together with saving money on building maintenance. Renovation to the house should pay for the work.
Energie Sprong is being developed in France, Germany, New York State in the US in addition to the UK and the pioneering country of The Netherlands.
Further details can be found on the Energie Sprong Website.
Ashden Award Winning Retro-Fit Houses
In 2019 a housing development in Nottingham won the prestigious Ashden award for an Energie Sprong retro-fit project. Ashden awards are a globally recognised mark of excellence in the field of green energy. They were founded in 2001 and promote climate change solutions.
Energie Sprong homes in Nottingham, UK showing one that was not retrofitted. Source: Ashden Awards.
The 2019 Ashden Award was for reductions in home emissions by 86%. The awards recognised the removal of carbon from the UK’s housing stock. The work comes with a 30 year energy performance guarantee whilst a modern makeover is given to homes.
Home energy use in the UK is responsible for around 14% of UK emissions. Cold and damp homes that cost significant amounts to run can be transformed by retro-fitting a new shell around the old house. The whole house is transformed at once within two weeks or so. The approach deals with the house’s electricity, heating, hot water and ventilation to deliver a home that has net-zero or very low energy use. A brand new wall and roof structure is built off-site complete with doors and windows. The new structure then transported and fitted around the existing building. This provides high levels of insulation and an air tight building that adheres to the required high insulation standards. Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery is used to ensure a supply of fresh air without cold draughts. A new heating system that runs on renewable electricity is installed.
A 30-year guarantee is provided from the solution provider. The guarantee promises to deliver the required energy performance on the retrofitted house assuming a specified maintenance programme is carried out. The guarantee is based on comfort targets such as keeping bedrooms at 18C and living rooms at 21C, supplying enough hot water for washing and showering and enough electricity for normal domestic use.
The award was given to a social housing scheme in Nottingham, UK. One of the core benefits is the reduction in fuel poverty. Tenants pay an affordable amount for their energy which is much less than they would have paid before the retrofit. A fixed monthly ‘comfort plan’ payment is also paid, which can help with financial management as it replaces fluctuating energy costs. People who were under-heating because they had limited money for bills will be warm and comfortable for the same cost.
Currently the cost per retrofit is high, it requires grant funding to be viable, the Dutch experience proves cost will fall rapidly as the work scales up. The model relies upon a mass production approach whereby economies of scale are delivered as more components are produced. Eventually the retrofit will be paid for through avoided maintenance costs for the landlord and the tenant’s regular ‘comfort plan’ payment.
Experience from the Nottingham developments demonstrate that each home is saving about five tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) each per year. The embodied CO2 per home is about 25 tonnes; the estimated CO2 per home would be 45 tonnes by demolishing existing buildings with a new build. The five-year payback of the embodied CO2 means that the retrofits can contribute to near-term reductions in CO2 emissions, which are essential in tackling the climate breakdown.
The energie sprong system is designed to ensure that buildings are transformed into low carbon or net zero buildings. In order to meet UK energy targets a building would need to be transformed every minute. The mass produced approach that energie sprong offers has the ability to significantly reduce energy use and save on carbon emissions. This includes the hidden or embodied carbon cost. Insulation of buildings is one of many climate solutions that is available today. This system applies a mass produced approach rather than a bespoke solution to building insulation.