A report focused on a small-scale trial in Devon argues that a more holistic approach to retrofitting homes that has been popularised in the Netherlands can better meet UK energy efficiency targets
A report published by the Green Alliance charity has said a drastic rethink is needed in how the UK housing stock is currently being retrofitted to ensure residential properties meet at least band C of the Energy Performance Certificate programme. The findings have taken the example of a retrofit pilot project being overseen by Devon Country Council as one potential solution that could be expanded nationally.
According to the report, only 29 per cent of homes presently meet the band C standard based on official figures, making existing housing stock among the least energy efficient in Europe.
The findings added, “the UK’s current policy approach is nowhere near ambitious enough to tackle the remaining 71 per cent.”
Among potential options to reshape older homes to meet energy targets and ensure more efficient heating systems, the report takes the example of an approach currently popular in the Netherlands that aims to be more holistic in transforming buildings.
This approach is known as Energiesprong, which translates as energy leap and focuses on creating a net zero energy home. One such example given in the study is introducing a thermally efficient façade, solar PV roofs and electric heating solutions in the form of ground or air sourced heat pumps to a home.
Devon County Council is in the process of running a three-year trial project up to 2020 that is focused on adopting the Energiesprong approach in 15 homes and a single office building, as well as its supporting supply chain.
The work forms part of the Energy Buildings Catalyst (ZEBCat) project that has been funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
The report concludes that the adoption of this Dutch approach, in this case focused on using electric heating appliances along with energy storage technology and thermal efficiency solutions, can serve as a large-scale solution to curbing carbon emissions from domestic properties.
A government commitment to support 5,000 retrofits using the Energiesprong concept could ensure sufficient economies scale to enable market actors to meet targets for a predicted cost of £35,000 per retrofit, the report has argued.
It added, “Energiesprong uses an innovative approach to both buildings and heat, and has the potential to decarbonise over 40 per cent of UK homes. But it needs to come down in cost, and this can only happen through learning by doing.”