Energy efficient building renovation: The German and Flemish examples

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“The Shift Project”, a non-governmental group, passes on solutions for environmental renovation that are implemented in some European countries. EURACTIV France’s media partner La Tribune reports.

In France, it had been expected since 2015 and the enactment of the law on the energy transition and green growth (LTECV). However, the decree specifying the modalities of the digital book for monitoring and maintaining housing was never published in the official journal.

The bill for housing, spatial and digital development (Élan), which was recently adopted at its final reading at the National Assembly, re-established the notorious digital book for monitoring and maintaining housing.

It will be compulsory in new buildings from 2020 and then introduced for old ones from 2025 when there is a change of owner. Once more, the implementation decree will be much awaited by environmental renovation professionals.

A personalised platform in Belgium

In other European countries, a personalised platform tool has already existed since at least the beginning of the year. In Flanders (Belgium), every resident can connect to a platform using their electronic identity card or an application on their phone. This platform encourages users to improve their housing’s energy performance.

“The objective is to minimise the administrative burdens on people with regard to construction and renovation,” explained Tina Van de Casteele from the Flemish energy agency. “By providing a overview of the various aspects of people’s property and comparing it with other residences in their area or village, it provides an integrated and comprehensive approach to the topic”.

In order to achieve this result, two major obstacles still needed to be overcome: building the legal basis for the “personal digital passport” and facilitating access to useful information from various government databases.

Having taken these steps, the platform is now free of charge and available to every Flemish resident and a television advertising campaign will be launched this autumn. From January 2019, the new version of the site will recommend a roadmap for every resident to follow as well as providing an overview of the tax incentives available.

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Four German framework documents

Moreover, in Germany, there were already almost eight national software systems for thermal calculation when the last brick – “the individual roadmap” – was added. The latest German national plan for energy efficiency therefore aims to have a climate-neutral housing stock in 2050.

The diagnosis of energy performance (DPE), which also exists in France, was no longer sufficient. This is why the German minister for economic affairs and energy established two prescriptive forms: “my roadmap”, a 7-page booklet on how to proceed, and “assistance in the implementation”, which identifies the measures to be implemented, as well as their respective costs and possible subsidies from the Federal state.

When work needs to be done, the mandated actor – the architect and/or general contractor for the building – receives a 16-page checklist to prepare an appointment on site, followed by a 16-page instruction. This is to provide a tailor-made response to those people engaging in renovation work.

Building a better business case for healthy buildings

Homeowners are often put off fixing a leaky roof or banishing damp from the downstairs bathroom due to the costs involved. But a business case is quickly building in favour of renovations.

Raili Munke, representative of the ministry for economic affairs and energy, said that these very generous framework documents would prove their effectiveness to occupants. “The methodology has been systematised and standardised throughout Germany. A lot of practical tests have been carried out to incorporate people’s views,” he said.

Further Reading

How building renovation and electrification of transport can help us reach the Paris goals

At first glance, buildings and transport may look like two unrelated subjects. But with the mass deployment of electric vehicles, managing the electricity consumption of cars when they recharge becomes critical to ensure grid stability, writes Harry Verhaar.

Healthy buildings: Good for our wallets?

‘Healthy mind, healthy body’, so the saying goes - but both are affected by the buildings in which we live and work. This year’s edition of the Healthy Homes Barometer reveals what the challenges and solutions might be.

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