Dutch ‘Energiesprong’ low carbon housing expands across Europe

Energy renovation of buildings is a key tool for urban regeneration

Across the globe more than 30 % of greenhouse gas emissions are the result of energy use in buildings. And by 2050 global building energy demand could increase by 50% if no action is taken.

Reaching the Paris Climate goals requires investing in renovation of the existing building stock. Increasing the energy efficiency of buildings is the most significant and cost effective investment cities can make to reduce their impact on climate.

If we choose cost effective and energy efficient solutions every time we renovate we will enhance quality of life without compromising the architectural and aesthetic qualities that make a building special.

Expert meeting

In May 2018 a group of leading experts from across Europe met to share their knowledge from successful large-scale urban regeneration projects. The concluded that:

  • deep renovation would be the cheapest option over a 30-year period;
  • improving the aesthetic quality combined with long-lasting materials is cheaper in the long run and can attract new investments to the renovated areas;
  • increase in property value while reducing operational and maintenance costs;
  • engaging residents in the renovation process e.g. via “social contracts” increases the support among citizens and can help to give people a new start;
  • long-term planning and broad cooperation is the foundation for success

The successful projects have increased the value and quality of buildings, improved indoor climate and daylight conditions, making buildings healthier and better to live and work in.

The workshop and subsequent report which was organised by the ROCKWOOL Group and BPIE in May 2018, aimed to answer the following questions: (i) How is it possible to replicate the positive experiences in other cities and projects? Which are the key success factors? (ii) How can well-designed renovation projects improve the quality of life in a rundown or challenged urban areas?, and (iii) What is the best way to maximise the social benefits of energy renovation projects?

The report features four different urban regeneration stories from England, Denmark, Sweden and The Netherlands. The cases show that a comprehensive strategy comprising both physical and social initiatives can transform whole areas into attractive and liveable spaces, and can turn around the negative trend experienced in these neighbourhoods. The identified success factors are (i) a strong long-term commitment from the public authorities, (ii) a well-adjusted combination of social and physical measures, (iii) the involvement and empowerment of the people living in the area, and (iv) an early collaboration between multiple actors with different expertise.

Joachim de Wijs ENERGY COORDINATOR, STEBO, said that the answer to the climate change problem lies to a large degree in cities. Urban regeneration is important because we need to ensure that our cities, living spaces and working environment are fit for the future and enable the citisens to live a sustainable lifestyle. Urban regeneration is one of the main challenges our society is facing.

Oliver Rapf EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BPIE explained that during the 1960s and 1970s, there was a huge need for dwellings in cities and most constructions were built on the idea of equality. Time has changed and so has our expectations of the built environment. Moreover, most of these buildings are in a dire need of an upgrade, to lower the energy consumption, improve thermal comfort, as well as to improve aesthetics of the neighbourhood.

Further information

July 13, 2018