A more energy-efficient North-West Europe

How transnational cooperation supports the NWE population by increasing the energy performance in houses and tackling energy poverty at the same time.

Although the North-West Europe area is considered as one of the most dynamic and prosperous areas of the European Union, households from some regions still face severe difficulties in affording their energy bills or suffer from a lack of adequate energy services at home. Generated in many cases by low energy performances in buildings, energy poverty is a common challenge to almost all urban areas of NWE, as 80% of the residential housing stock dates from pre 1990’s.

Investments in energy efficiency are able, in most cases, to support citizens in the reduction of energy bills, lowering their dependence on external suppliers, as well as to decrease the environmental impact from energy consumption. Although a variety of solutions are already available in the market, energy efficient technologies still require an extra push from cooperation initiatives in order to distribute their benefits around North-West Europe at costs that fit the citizens’ pockets.

"They brought the solution to where there was a need"

Amélie Goblas from Longueau, Northern France

“They brought the solution to where there was a need. I’m saving a lot of money on heating as everything is so much better insulated than before”, says Amélie Goblas from Longueau, Northern France. Amélie belongs to one of the families benefiting from the French pilot site of the E=0 project, which is creating a market for top-class and affordable net-zero energy house refurbishments, where consumption is nearly equal to the energy production. The concept is based on a one-week smooth implementation and follows a successful model from the Netherlands, which already delivered 2,000 refurbishments in the country. Thanks to the project, 17 pilot homes in Nottingham (UK) were completely refurbished, which will allow the roll-out to more than 300 other households. In France, 22 pilots in the villages of Hem and Longueau opened the way for the retrofit of 6500 other homes. As a recognition of its success, the project won the 2019 EU Sustainable Energy Award under the innovation category. Building on the success of E=0, a follow-up initiative focused on buildings named Mustbe0 was launched in May 2019.

Tackling energy poverty in North-West Europe brings several benefits to the region, including savings for the health sector, better air quality, lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as increased comfort and well-being. With this objective in mind, the Climate Active Neighbourhoods (CAN) project addresses underprivileged neighbourhoods that require renovation in municipalities and regions of varying size throughout the territory. The project’s bottom-up approach encourages NWE residents to find appropriate financing for investing in energy efficiency measures, which leads, in the end, to a mix of exemplary refurbishments, resident investment schemes and behavioural change. The topic of energy poverty was not one of the project's main objectives but was later identified through the cooperation of the partners – learning from the approach of Brest metropole (FR) – who came to see it as a very pressing issue. The partners from Arnhem (NL), Brest (FR), Hastings (UK) and Plymouth (UK) especially are now working towards implementing specific measures to tackle energy poverty and to offer support to residents affected by it.

“A social worker in the district put me in contact with the project. With empathy and without judgement, she examined the whole home. The most urgent work was carried out within a few weeks. The efficiency of this networking between different stakeholders has allowed me to spend winter in the warmth”, says a Brest resident who received an energy visit from CAN.

Thanks to the project - over 1200 households from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK have been reached, 1500 tons of GHG emissions have been saved, and EUR 14 million of funding have gone into the regions covered by the project. CAN was the winner of the 2019 REGIOSTARS award under the category “Building climate-resilient cities”.

Similarly, another initiative focuses on: “Accelerating Condominium Energy (ACE) Retrofitting”, as its name suggests. By targeting condominiums (tenements and flatted buildings), the project addresses a solid number of private owners who can benefit from more energy efficient homes while creating significant financial and carbon savings (50-70%). ACE-retrofitting introduces an innovative approach via the use of an online collaborative tool developed by the Paris Climate Agency that intends to overcome legal, human and financial barriers of retrofitting. In France, this free platform has already successfully assisted condominium owners (demand) and building professionals (supply) through an interactive process which cultivates trust relationships and generates direct and indirect jobs (potentially 19 net jobs created per €1M investment).

A total of 165 retrofitting plans were already voted in Paris (FR), Maastricht (NL), Liège (BE), Frankfurt (DE) and Antwerp (BE). Combined, they are expected to lead to an annual decrease of 6488 tons CO2 emissions.

Together, the NWE initiatives are making an impact on citizens' life and also contribute to the implementation of low-carbon strategies that reduce GHG emissions on the territory and facilitate the uptake of low carbon technologies and products by the energy sector.



© Union européenne 2019 / Studio Arnography


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