architecture

EnergieSprong arrives in Britain

EnergieSprong is a revolutionary approach to retrofitting homes for the 21st century. It’s been developed in the Netherlands, rolled out in France, Germany and elsewhere. Last year I mentioned that it was coming to Britain, and now it has.

The challenge of EnergieSprong is to retrofit ordinary homes to the standard of a zero-carbon eco-home, but at a fraction of the cost. It’s well suited to the British market, where we need to refurbish millions of homes over the coming decades in order to meet carbon targets and avoid dangerous climate change. At the moment it’s expensive, and there is little support for house owners wanting to make their homes more efficient.

There are two main ways that EnergieSprong delivers radical retrofits at a lower price. First, it uses prefabricated elements. The whole facade of a building can be manufactured offsite, delivered and fitted. An insulated roof with built-in solar panels is craned into position. That makes the process very quick – the refit can happen in as little as a week, and residents don’t need to move out.

Retrofitting with prefabricated elements also unlocks a second way to lower costs, which is to get economies of scale. In Holland the company secured contracts from a series of councils and housing associations, guaranteeing enough orders to bring the price down. Financing mechanisms have also been created so that people can pay for refits out of their energy savings.

It’s exciting to see EnergieSprong reach Britain. Our housing stock is in poor condition, and the construction industry is woefully unequipped to do retrofits. It’s a problem that needs radical solutions, especially since the government seems rather paralysed on the issue after the failure of the Green Deal. So I’ll be keeping an eye on the first projects in Nottingham, and I hope that the model catches on. Here’s a video introduction from the UK, and all the details of EnergieSprong UK are here.

If you want the geeky details on how EnergieSprong’s standards compare to PassivHaus, that’s here.

5 comments

    1. Good to see this getting coverage and hopefully a whole lot more attention now that it’s proven to work. I’d love to see this adopted more widely in Britain – as I have discovered myself in trying to get quotes from local builders, we badly need to import some retrofitting skills and expertise.

      1. I feel acutely aware (and frustrated) over how important it is to tackle retrofitting, since the number of existing buildings (many of which are highly inefficient) greatly dominates over possible new builds over the next few years/decades (and we can’t afford to knock all the old buildings down!). But it seems to be a wicked problem to tackle. We tried to look at it in Chipping Norton (North Oxfordshire), and a retrofit company (Energy Saving Coop) tried to start up, serving Oxford and Oxfordshire, and some other regions of UK, but I think all these failed to make headway.
        Out of interest, have you followed the work of Steven Harris (who used to be technical director of the Energy Saving Trust? He was promoting effective retrofit measures that would be very easy for small local traders to adopt. He has a couple of sites:
        http://www.steven-harris.co.uk/Steven_Harris_Ltd/Home.html
        http://www.energence.co.uk

        Also, have you come across this report? I haven’t read it yet, but it seems interesting:
        http://www.e3g.org/docs/FE_Energy_efficiency.pdf

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