Energiesprong - series-ready property renovation to a zero-energy house

Many existing properties are getting on in years and consume an unnecessary amount of energy. This is where the Energiesprong principle comes into play, which originated in the Netherlands. The Energiesprong concept significantly reduces renovation costs through the use of industrially prefabricated building elements. At the same time, it reduces the time needed for renovation and thus also the disruption to the occupants of the property to be renovated. The result of serial renovation is not only energy savings but also a general and visual modernisation of the property and thus greater living comfort for owners or tenants. The Energiesprong project aims to create the necessary incentives to encourage significantly more property owners than before to renovate their single-family home or apartment building to make it more energy-efficient.

Hamburg - Energiesprong - series-ready property renovation to a zero-energy house

What is the purpose of Energiesprong?

The Energiesprong principle is the result of an initiative by construction companies, government agencies and banks in the Netherlands to speed up the energy transition. Energiesprong is intended to enable cost-effective renovations that upgrade existing buildings to an energetically up-to-date standard. Strictly speaking, the goal is the NetZero standard, i.e. a zero-energy house. This means that the property itself generates as much energy as it consumes on average per year. The concept of Energiesprong is to reduce the renovation time, the total amount of work and the costs through a cooperation between both public authorities and the private sector. This is because there is a need for action, especially in apartment buildings and high-rises, and the Energiesprong principle is easy to implement thanks to the straightforward architecture.

Renovation is unpopular with tenants: Is Energiesprong the solution?

Residential property companies want to keep their tenants and not make them move out as a result of long-term renovation measures.

Industrially prefabricated components for the roof with insulation and integrated photovoltaics, prefabricated facades in modular construction with additional insulation and other energy module solutions are to be produced in series and delivered directly to the construction site.

Series production only works for buildings with similar layouts and facades. For this reason, Germany relies primarily on the residential property companies, which manage a large proportion of the apartments of a similar design. But the principle of the pioneer Energiesprong is also the best way to bring townhouses or structurally similar single-family homes up to contemporary standards.

Why is the Energiesprong concept necessary?

More than 35 percent of the total energy in Germany is consumed by the 21 million buildings, of which 63 percent are residential and 37 percent are properties used for other purposes. Around three quarters of all homes currently use fossil fuels for heating. As oil and gas become scarcer and more expensive, there is a pressing need for a transition in heating to renewable energy sources. But just changing the heating system or smart energy-saving aids such as intelligent heating thermostats are of little use if the building structure is insufficiently insulated and far too much energy is required to make the indoor climate pleasant. The first Heat Insulation Ordinance came into force in 1979. More than 60 percent of the buildings in existence today were built before that time. Some of these unrenovated old buildings consume five times more energy than a comparable new building. The ambitious goal of the energy transition is therefore a climate-neutral building stock by 2050, which means an 80 percent reduction in energy demand. The German Energy Agency dena sees the Energiesprong principle developed in the Netherlands as a significant step towards the cost-reduced implementation of the necessary serial renovation of residential buildings.

What does a renovation according to the Energiesprong principle involve?

The components for the renovation of a facade according to the Energiesprong concept, for example, are factory-made. For this purpose, the construction company surveys the building with a 3D laser scanner and also uses aerial and ground photographs. Based on the exact measurements, precision-fit elements are fabricated on the production site. The plainer the facade design, the easier and faster it is to implement the Energiesprong principle in terms of cost reduction. The ready-made building elements are delivered to the construction site by truck and are then simply mounted on the facade. The process is similar for roof elements, whereby the old roof covering is generally removed. Another aspect of serial renovation is the home technology. A prefabricated energy module with heat pump, hot water tank and a ventilation system with heat recovery also controls the solar system on the roof. This means that both single-family and multi-family homes can be equipped quickly and more cost-effectively, with the appropriate smart home technology providing further energy savings.

The advantages of the Energiesprong principle

Climate protection and energy saving are current issues that concern everyone. In this respect, the renovation of the many old buildings is necessary in order to implement an energy transition. In addition, fossil fuels are becoming scarcer all the time, dependence on producing countries is increasing and energy prices are therefore rising continuously. The Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) regulates the future measures as well as the subsidies for the renovation measures. Workmanship is not only expensive, but the renovating construction companies are sometimes understaffed, which means that waiting times are long. Energiesprong is intended to remedy the situation. For example, the pre-production of insulation elements or building systems takes place in the factory, which can reduce the overall time needed on the construction site by weeks, if not months. At the same time, the one-off development and repeated use of the structural components for serial renovation significantly reduce the manufacturing costs. Residential property companies in particular do not need to accommodate their tenants in other apartments, as the inconvenience caused by the renovation sometimes only lasts a few days or weeks. Here is an overview of the advantages of using the Energiesprong principle:

  • Lower renovation costs through serial production and prefabrication

  • Short renovation period and thus no loss of tenants

  • Visual improvement of the facades and the roof

  • Modern building systems and smart home technology

  • Lower follow-up costs for the maintenance of the property

  • Significant energy savings

  • Higher living quality and better indoor climate

  • Improved climate protection

Who pays for the Energiesprong renovation?

The costs of an energetic renovation according to Energiesprong are significantly lower than for an individual and manually performed renovation. Nevertheless, depending on the condition of the property, the required renovation can represent a considerable investment. Over time, the energy savings are expected to offset the expenses for the conversion into a NetZero house. For landlords of residential units in apartment buildings, refinancing is done via the gross rent, which includes heating costs. This means that, theoretically, the tenants pay the energy savings to the landlord. The Netherlands is leading the way, having introduced an energy service charge specifically for Energiesprong. There, the rent was not increased, but the expenses for the energetic renovation were levied in the form of the energy service fee.

Can Energiesprong result in a rent increase?

Germany is opting for a comparable tenant electricity solution. The Renewable Energy Sources Act 2021 (EEG) regulates the tenant electricity surcharge that tenants pay to the landlord or a commissioned operator of the installed photovoltaic system for the use of the solar electricity in the building. However, the tenant electricity surcharge may not exceed 90 percent of the base rate offered by a local electricity supplier. If more electricity is produced than used, the landlord or operator is also paid for the excess by the grid operator. In practice, however, the net rent for tenants is likely to increase, as the living comfort in the modernised buildings is also significantly improved. Section 559 of the German Civil Code (BGB) allows landlords to levy eight per cent of the renovation costs on the annual rent of all apartments on a pro rata basis. However, in many cases the rental contracts or the statutes of the residential property companies limit a rent increase.

What subsidies are available for Energiesprong renovations?

The German government has set itself extensive climate protection goals that it wants to achieve in the coming years and decades. It is a well-known fact that subsidy programmes are an interesting incentive for new investments. Under the Energiesprong concept, however, it is not the property owners who are the focus of the support programmes.

Subsidies for construction companies, residential property companies and manufacturers

Instead, the funding intends to motivate and support the developers of structural components and the construction companies carrying out serial renovation. The goal of dena's Energiesprong programme is to at least double the number of renovations carried out annually. This is why the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection has launched the "Promotion of Serial Renovation" programme. The aim is for construction companies and manufacturers to build up more personnel and structural capacities and receive subsidies for this under certain conditions. Since a large proportion of Germany's apartments are owned by residential property companies, they can claim subsidies, for example, to increase the energy efficiency of their properties.

EEG subsidies for property owners

Nevertheless, there are government subsidies for owners of multi-family or single-family homes. This is because the "Federal Funding for Efficient Buildings" (BEG) also rewards retrofitting to renewable energies and the NetZero standard. It should be noted that these subsidies must be applied for before the contract with the renovating company is signed. A renovated Efficiency House 40 may not consume more than 40 percent of the primary energy of a new building. If the building meets these standards as a result of the planned renovation, an investment subsidy or repayment subsidy of 45 percent is made available. For the Efficiency House 55, a subsidy of 40 percent is still possible. The EE package grants an extra 5 percent if 55 percent of the heat comes from renewable energies.

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