In July 2015, building repair and energy efficiency specialist, Sustainable Group (UK) Limited became a founder member of a new refurbishment sector initiative dedicated to making net-zero-energy housing a widespread reality in Britain.
Based on a highly successful Dutch model that is currently delivering energy makeovers to over 100,000 residential properties, Energiesprong UK Ltd is now a registered company. It held its inaugural members' meeting on 15th July and Sustainable Group was represented by its chairman, Derek Horrocks.
Energiesprong (which translates as 'Energy Leap') represents an entirely new way of delivering energy efficiency improvements on a large scale. Essentially, it entails fitting modular insulated wall panels and roofing, all of which are produced off-site in a quality-controlled environment. Although the components are customised for each property, they are effectively mass-produced, which helps minimise unit costs. Moreover, their modular construction means that installations can be completed far more quickly than via conventional methods. Whole houses can be fitted with new roofs, renewable energy systems and external wall insulation in under a week, and residents are not required to vacate the property while work is in progress.
The funding mechanism is equally innovative and has proven to be extremely effective in kick-starting new projects. Fundamentally, the work is financed through the annual energy savings yielded by the refurbishment works. Importantly, energy performance is warranted by the solution provider for 30+ years, so the savings are guaranteed. This is distinct from the recently terminated Green Deal, which based its financial calculations on theoretical rather than guaranteed energy savings.
In the Netherlands, the initial capital is provided by a conventional bank, which underwrites 40-year government-backed loans to social housing providers. Residents pay nothing for the work but continue to pay their housing association their usual monthly amount for rent and energy. In this way, they gradually repay the debt from their energy savings alone. They therefore enjoy greatly improved living conditions without adding a penny to their monthly living costs. It is this model that the UK initiative seeks to replicate.
As an experienced contractor in the external wall insulation sector, Sustainable Group will play an important role in the development of Energiesprong UK. It will work alongside other specialists in the field, including the British manufacturer PermaRock Products Ltd, which will be its partner supplier of external wall insulation measures. Some of the other seventeen founder members include the Energy Saving Trust, the National Housing Federation, Wates Living Space and Willmott Dixon.
Speaking after the members' meeting, Derek Horrocks said: "Energiesprong UK represents a really important opportunity for Britain to accelerate the pace of energy efficiency improvements. It provides a viable solution to issues of fuel poverty, quality control, funding and affordability. Not only that, but it has a demonstrable track record in Europe, where it is yielding measurable improvements to people's quality of life.
"I'm proud and very excited that Sustainable Group is playing a key role in what I believe will be a game-changing approach to energy efficiency refurbishments. It has already won the support of social housing providers, contractors, trade associations and expert organisations, and together, we're confident we can deliver effective solutions without the need for government grants and without exposing tenants to additional costs. Given the recent closure of the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, it could not have been launched at a more opportune time."
Energiesprong UK is managed by Programme Director, Arno Schmickler, and hosted by the National Energy Foundation.
Commenting on the formation of the new business, Arno Schmickler said: "It’s fantastic that partners from industry and housing have come together to challenge ‘business as usual’. The shared vision to make net-zero-energy housing a reality and the inspiration provided by the Dutch Energiesprong movement gives us confidence to embark on an exciting journey to transform the refurbishment market in the UK."
Kerry Mashford, Chief Executive of the National Energy Foundation, added: "The Energiesprong UK initiative really does have the potential to transform completely the way we refurbish homes and neighbourhoods in the UK – providing dramatically improved properties at the scale and pace we need to fulfil the UK’s CO2 reduction commitments. It will create new jobs and boost economic development through a whole new industry sector. It’s incredibly exciting to be involved at this pivotal period."
The founder members of Energiesprong UK are:
- Accord Group
- Affinity Sutton
- Amicus Horizon
- Beattie Passive
- Energy Saving Trust
- Moat Housing Group
- National Energy Foundation
- National Housing Federation
- Nottingham City Homes
- Orbit Group
- Sustainable Group
- Thrive Homes
- Wates Living Space
- Willmott Dixon
- Your Homes Newcastle
More information about Energiesprong UK can be found at: www.energiesprong.uk. More details about Sustainable Group can be found on the company’s website: www.sustainablegroupuk.com.
Energiesprong UK aims to achieve the following:
Quality and assured performance - by implementing quality standards, manufacturing and delivery methods, inspection and verification that enable a long-term performance warranty to be offered.
Affordability. Assured performance, coupled with mass-customised industrialisation and delivery process efficiencies, will reduce costs and allow for the refinancing of the upfront investment. This will be achieved through guaranteed energy cost savings (energy performance contracting), generation of on-site renewables and real estate value improvements and will thus make the solution affordable, independent of public grant.
Desirability - low disruption, fast process, improved aesthetics and comfort levels, increased asset value of individual dwellings plus neighbourhood renewal and social impact of mass implementation.