15 Mar 2021

Bringing net zero energy solutions to the UK’s social housing sector

In its Reducing UK emissions: 2020 progress report to Parliament, the Climate Change Committee highlighted five clear investment priorities that are critical in our drive to a more sustainable future.

One of these investment priorities is for low-carbon retrofits and buildings that are fit for the future, and with energy use in homes accounting for more than 14 per cent of all UK carbon emissions, the housing sector has a significant role to play in reaching the UK’s 2050 climate-neutral target.

But how do we get there, and what approaches are available to implement desirable, warm and affordable homes at scale?

Introducing the Energiesprong model

The Energiesprong model originates from the Netherlands, where rising sea levels are a very real threat. In 2010 the Dutch Government approached manufacturers, suppliers, and the housing sector at large with an urgent request to create net zero housing stock. After five years of research and attempts that didn’t quite work, they found a model that does.  

Energiesprong UK is adapting that Dutch model into a volume market for the UK. We are an independent, 100% publicly funded not-for-profit organisation that is set on developing and delivering net zero energy retrofit and new builds at scale, without public subsidy. We support landlords and the supply chain, inform governments and key stakeholders.

Very few homes across the country are currently net zero, but all homes, whether they are existing or planned new builds, will need to be in the next few decades.

So how do we get there?

Our strategy is to stimulate demand by informing the sector on available approaches, support the supply chain by bringing like-minded suppliers together, as well as develop funding and finance for the future. While we are using social housing as our starting point, we are driven to build volume and proven self-financing net zero products that can then be marketed to private tenures in future.

The key principles of the Energiesprong approach are:

  • Net zero in one go: whole house, super-efficient thermal wrap with renewable energy generation, storage and heating
  • Guaranteed actual performance: annual net zero energy, comfort every day and affordable bills
  • Offsite manufacturing: industrialisation for quality, cost reduction and minimal onsite disruption
  • Retrofit cost financed by guaranteed long term energy and maintenance savings
  • Affordable, grid friendly electrification: 90% carbon reduction now, zero carbon as the grid decarbonises.

We have seen significant initial success. Demonstration retrofit projects with five landlords using the Energiesprong model have already been completed and are now scaling up delivery. Two large projects funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are underway, and we have bids for the BEIS Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund with new landlords for a further scale up in volume. With our partners, the Mayor of London and Turner & Townsend, we have launched a new UK procurement mechanism that is designed to standardise approaches, aggregate design and drive supply chain innovation.

We are eager to engage with stakeholders right across the sector. For developers, suppliers, housing associations, landlords and local government authorities looking to join the net zero energy revolution, please feel free to get in touch.

Written by Ian Hutchcroft

Ian Hutchcroft is the director at Energiesprong UK