Net zero homes Energiesprong project wins prestigious Ashden Award

The pioneering Energiesprong approach to get UK homes up to the proposed net zero energy standard has won a first prize in the 2019 Ashden Awards. The award recognises the role of the National Energy Foundation in championing the Energiesprong retrofit standard in the UK.

Energiesprong is one of just 10 initiatives from across the globe to win a 2019 Ashden Award. Each winner’s work aligns with Ashden’s hopes to see carbon emissions fall to zero before 2050. The National Energy Foundation (NEF) and Energiesprong UK will receive the first prize in the UK Sustainable Buildings category at the prestigious Ashden Awards ceremony on 3rd July.

Gabby Mallett, NEF’s Director of Operations, commented: “We’re delighted that Ashden has recognised the potential of Energiesprong. It’s a great fit to meet the new government target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050. It’s also a great fit for NEF’s mission to improve the use of energy in buildings.”

Ashden assessors applauded Energiesprong’s potential to radically cut carbon from the UK’s housing stock by refurbishing older hard to heat homes, both faster and in higher numbers. They also noted Energiesprong’s progress including the rollout of Energiesprong retrofit to homes in Nottingham and pilots including in Maldon, Essex. A total of 186 Energiesprong retrofits are now confirmed with 155 Nottingham households set to benefit from the rollout this year.

Emily Braham, Head of Team at Energiesprong UK, said: "There are 11 million homes in the UK we could retrofit to Energiesprong's net zero energy standard with today's technology. Working with NEF and the TZ and E=0 projects has helped us build significant demand for a model we've shown can work, with front-running landlords who own more than 100,000 homes. At 40,000 homes per year costs will reduce to make the retrofit self-financing, which we are targeting by 2030."

NEF champions innovative new Energiesprong standard

The National Energy Foundation has a long history of supporting retrofit innovations in the private and social housing sectors, including award-winning initiatives such as SuperHomes, WHISCERS™ and the current Cosy Homes partnership in Oxfordshire. NEF has championed Energiesprong since early 2015.

Energiesprong is a revolutionary, whole house refurbishment approach that transforms poorly insulated and draughty homes into warm, comfortable, net zero energy homes, for life. Each refurbished home produces enough clean energy to meet its heating, hot water and appliance needs. Money that would normally be spent on energy bills and maintenance pays for the works.

Liz Male, chair of the National Energy Foundation, says: “NEF has consistently promoted whole-house retrofit as a way to transform comfort in older homes. The great thing about Energiesprong is that energy performance is not just modelled or predicted - it is monitored and guaranteed.”

Two EU-funded projects - Horizon 2020 Transition Zero and Interreg NWE E=0 - have allowed the inspirational Energiesprong model to be lifted from The Netherlands and adapted for the UK and France. Germany is now also in the process of adopting the model.

As Transition Zero project lead, the National Energy Foundation played the key role in introducing Energiesprong to the UK: managing project finances, recruiting a development team, coordinating reporting and promoting low energy renovation. NEF’s involvement in the E=0 project takes this one step further – to demonstration, with several active pilots in Maldon and Nottingham.

UK frontrunners drive the transformation to net zero buildings

UK Energiesprong frontrunners include Nottingham City Homes who, in late 2018, unveiled the UK’s first Energiesprong pilot in Sneinton, Nottingham. This 10-home pilot was delivered by solution provider Melius Homes and supported by Energiesprong UK and the European Horizon 2020 Remourban project. A second 17-home pilot is underway in Nottingham and a 5-home pilot in Maldon, Essex, delivered by ENGIE and GSA for Moat Homes, is nearing completion.

Nottingham City Council, Head of Energy Services, Wayne Bexton said: "Holistic solutions are undoubtedly the future. After hitting our 2020 energy strategy targets early, we've now committed to becoming a net zero carbon city by 2028. Our pilot of 10 Energiesprong properties within Nottingham has been hugely successful and we look forward to the continued deployment."

Energiesprong pilots are essential for adapting the model to local conditions and early challenges, like strict planning requirements in Maldon. Simon Lacey, Regional Managing Director at ENGIE says: “Although the solution is simple in its concept and within ENGIE’s expertise, implementing retrofit solutions can be very complex. We created a bespoke solution for each of the five properties providing the same Energiesprong result, all while keeping the street scene the same as per planning permissions.”

One of the problems facing housing providers in the UK, is the number of older homes that are expensive to keep comfortably warm, even though their EPC rating is not the worst. Jason Amos, Director of Property Services at Moat, says of the Maldon pilot “These properties were a low D EPC rating but bills were particularly high. The retrofit has allowed us to build a highly insulated house around the existing property with new wall, roof and insulation under the floors with the aim to move these homes to an A rating.”

Nick Murphy, Chief Executive of Nottingham City Homes, commented "We’ve got to do something with the UK’s existing housing stock, most of our homes have been built in decades or even centuries past … we’ve got to think about the standards that are right for the future. Tenants in our pilot absolutely love it. Cold homes have become warm, comfortable and affordable to heat."

Energiesprong sets a radically high energy performance standard – net zero energy. Unusually, the onus is on the building contractor (the solution provider) to meet this standard over the long term – up to 30 years. An Energiesprong retrofit must deliver 21°C year-round temperature in the living room, 40 minutes of hot water a day, plus adequate clean electricity to run appliances. As the end user must incur no extra costs, this contributes to a fair energy transition to lower carbon lifestyles.

Another major challenge is how the UK will insulate its older housing stock in time for 2050. Recent reports from the Institute of Engineering and Technology and the Green Alliance point to Energiesprong as the way forward. The learning from the Netherlands is that, with sufficient volume, solution providers will invest in the offsite industrial manufacture needed to generate high volume retrofit across Europe.

Recent Energiesprong retrofits have included insulated wall and roof panels that were assembled offsite. Ultimately this will lead to lower cost, higher quality and faster retrofits causing minimal disruption to occupants. David Adams, Technical Director of Melius Homes, says his team is setting up a factory to support the Nottingham rollout, so they can make panels even more bespoke.

Ashden commented: “Energiesprong holds huge promise because it can scale. With industrialisation, costs come down, retrofits get faster and further quality gains become possible. As we move towards a zero-carbon society we can then really look forward to everyone living in a desirable, comfortable home that is affordable to heat.”

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