First Energiesprong pilot in France: a view from Housing Association Vilogia

24 October 2018

Now that the renovation of 10 homes in Hem to Energiesprong standard is completed, feedbackis coming in from Vilogia’s Project Managers highlighting the feasibility of this approach in France. Below we give a quick summary of the feedback from two key participants from the Vilogia team: Agnieszka Bogucka (Project Manager) and Fabien Lasserre (Head of Engineering and R & D).

Why Energiesprong?

For Agnieszka and Fabien the Energiesprong approach makes perfect sense. It aligns with Vilogia’s commitment to fight fuel poverty and put the well-being and health of residents first. It addresses social and environmental issues and is a feasible way to roll out quality retrofit across Europe. It provides an answer to both rising energy prices and the need for long term sustainable homes.

The first net zero energy retrofits ever in France

The Hem pilot project involved the renovation of 10 individual 1950s homes in the Lille metropolitan area. The renovation took three weeks for each house and the total works were completed over three months. These are the first homes renovated in France to a net zero energy standard (E = 0) so the energy produced is equal to the total energy consumed. The energy performance is guaranteed for 25 years and is expected to satisfy tenants for the duration. Care was taken to get the construction partners on board for this requirement. For this innovative project, the close collaboration between Vilogia and Rabot Dutilleul Construction, Nortec and Symoe was essential.

Different from business as usual

The design phase proved to be crucial for Energiesprong retrofits. Builders find this difficult because everything must be sequenced, imagined and programmed to shorten the time on site. The solution providers involved must be agile, responsive to the needs of tenants, able to communicate and able to collaborate openly.

Energiesprong was presented as a comfort solution

Preparation, communication, listening, flexibility and follow-up were all key to the success of the project. As the aim was to meet the needs of tenants, Vilogia involved tenants at all stages of the renovation. There were visits to the tenants in their homes to discuss their property and comfort levels, and a consultation meeting where Energiesprong was presented as a comfort solution. This was well received, especially given the shorter installation times. Renovation always involves some disruption and this was no exception, but the improvement in comfort was tangible. Vilogia hope that tenants will feel a real difference this winter.

A collaborative approach

Staff learned that it is important to have a strong belief in what you doing. It is a collaborative approach and that can be challenging as well as rewarding. International collaboration helped, bringing partners together to inspire and share. Energiesprong is different. You have to adapt your working methods and act in a flexible, agile and cooperative way. A lot of effort must go into specifying the right solution, meticulous planning and managing both the technical side and the people side whilst remaining mindful of the tenants’ needs. Tenants must be kept on board since their behaviour will dictate whether energy is saved in the end.

The dynamic in France

Energiesprong needs volume demand and industrialisation so costs can come down and quality can be raised. There needs to be movement in the regulatory context and financing and greater competition to drive innovation. At this stage it should be seen not as an investment for profit but as an R & D process that, with patience, will bear fruit for all stakeholders.

Thanks to pre-fabrication the Energiesprong approach allows for the renovation of social housing stock at increased speed and lower cost. For Agnieszka and Fabien Energiesprong is revolutionary. But a revolution is not driven by individuals. The Dutch understood this. When we reach out and act together and find better ways to do things, the changes will be lasting and global.

Read the whole article and interview with Agnieszka and Fabien in French at www.energiesprong.fr

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