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04.03.19

Gearing up for the rollout of Energiesprong homes

Source: PSE Feb/March 2019

Nottingham City Council’s portfolio holder for energy and environment Cllr Sally Longford and head of energy services Wayne Bexton explain how Nottingham is leading the way in tackling climate change and fuel poverty simultaneously by trialling Energiesprong – a Dutch initiative that gives homes a green makeover.

Many of the people living in the UK’s cold and leaky houses are people in or vulnerable to fuel poverty, often on a more expensive payment method and locked out of previous domestic energy efficiency incentive programmes. Fuel poverty does not always present itself as high-energy bills – there are a high number of people in the UK who are so worried about the cost of energy that they are significantly under-heating their homes.

We’re making good progress in Nottingham on both of these issues. After hitting our 2020 energy strategy targets early, we have now committed to becoming a 'net-zero carbon' city by 2028. The city’s fuel poverty rate has reduced from 21% to 14% over the past eight years. Our recently-launched city-wide fuel poverty strategy brings together both our climate change and fuel poverty ambitions, calling for innovation and collaboration to tackle high-energy bills in a low carbon and sustainable manner.

Energiesprong: radically overhauling our housing stock

Energiesprong is a one-off, self-funded deep retrofit that significantly improves the energy efficiency and liveability of that home. It’s a move away from small incremental improvements over a period of time. Homes are upgraded with innovative energy-saving and energy-generating measures, which include new highly-insulated outside walls and windows, a solar roof, battery storage, and a state-of-the-art heating system. The household’s energy demand will be greatly reduced, and what energy is needed can mostly be generated on site via smart use of renewable energy technologies; environmental performance will be improved to almost net zero carbon and energy bills reduced.

Lived experience 

The scheme has been universally well received with some of the households reporting significant savings on their energy bills, and others who were drastically under-heating now enjoy living in a much warmer and healthier home.

As well as improving the energy efficiency of these homes, the Nottingham pilot has sought to improve the way a home works for the people who live in it.  Tenants’ feedback on their homes resulted in modifications and, by adding new walls, we have had the opportunity to give these tired-looking homes from the 1960s a total facelift.

Funding for innovation

As a UK-first, we are still very much in the discovery phase and external funding has been essential. The first 10 homes were funded through an EU Horizon 2020 project called REMOURBAN. We are currently using funding from an EU Interreg NWE project called E=0 for 17 retrofits on neighbouring homes. These pilots have enabled us to test the concept and trial different technologies to maximise efficiencies and their ability to integrate with each other. We have just secured a further £5m of EU funding, this time from the European Regional Development Fund; this funding will take the rollout into new locations across the city and adapt the retrofit approach to include a public building. At this scale, we are looking to significantly bring down the costs through economies of scale and lessons learnt.

Building a movement

We’ve had a huge number of visitors from across the UK and Europe to our pilot site. People have wanted to see and hear for themselves how this innovative idea works in practice and meet the people who live there.

We’d love to see this innovation replicated across the UK and adapted for multiple building types. As a UK market emerges for deep retrofit technologies, everyone will benefit; suppliers and contractors, landlords and tenants.

 

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