The first French Energiesprong retrofits are officially launched

08 March 2018

On the 22nd of February around 200 people came to witness the placing of an E=0 facade over one of the first 10 houses to receive Energiesprong retrofits in France. After the retrofit the tenants will have a much more comfortable house at no additional cost, as thanks to the Energiesprong approach their old energy bills will pay for the retrofit. Annually, their ‘new’ homes will generate sufficient energy to heat the house, provide hot water and power the household appliances. The launch of the first 10 retrofits in France is an important milestone because it shows that the Energiesprong approach, which originated in the Netherlands, is also applicable in a French context.

Positive impact on the neighbourhood

At about a 20 minutes drive from Lille you will find the small town of Hem. Big villas and even a gated community stand side by side with a neighbourhood where the houses would obviously benefit from a make over. The experience in the Netherlands (where hundreds of these retrofits have already been realised) shows that such projects can breathe new life into a neighbourhood such as this. Besides the upgrade to how the homes look, the process itself encourages social cohesion. Already, in this first French project, residents are busy talking and gesturing, maybe about the new kitchen or bathroom that are also part of the big retrofit. Or is about the more than 200 people that have come to see the placement of the new facade in their street?

A milestone: Energiesprong retrofits do fit the French system

A new facade gliding through the air towards one of the houses makes for an inspiring image, and confirms that Energiesprong retrofits are possible in France. Housing association Vilogia and solution provider Rabot Dutilleul are the first to get an Energiesprong project realized in France, with the financial support of the Europese Interreg NWE-programma, Caisse des Dépôts and ADEME. Romain Ryckbosch, project manager at Rabot Dutilleul, is enthusiastic: “It is providing us with opportunities to work together in new ways as we embrace the Energiesprong approach, including providing a long term performance guarantee. The ultimate satisfaction of the tenants and especially prefabrication are challenges for the future. Thanks to the demonstrator project in Hem we are up and running and we can´t wait to start another project and develop these practices to the next level.”

The first 10 homes in Hem mark an important milestone for Energiesprong France. It shows that the Energiesprong approach, originating in the Netherlands, is also applicable within the French legal and technical framework. The French Energiesprong movement is really here. Housing association Vilogia has already sent out a call for tender for another 160 houses, and another demonstrator project is underway in Longueau, involving 12 houses from the housing corporation ICF Habitat North East.

Europe is moving

The Energiesprong approach has been picked up by other European parties as well, as they begin to see that it is the way to go in the urgently needed energy transition. The European Commission has financed Energiesprong in France and the UK through the Transition Zero-project, a H2020-programme. Within this framework a deal was signed last year in France between 9 housing associations, 20 solution providers and 7 facilitating organisations. These 36 organisations will work together to create the right market conditions for Energiesprong retrofits in France. Meanwhile Germany and Italy are also opening the way for similar projects.

But we are not there yet…

The fact that Energiesprong has caught the attention of so many players in the field proves that a supportive culture is arising to pave the way for these retrofits. However, we are not there yet… To be truly effective, the movement needs to scale up to the level of a mass market. These projects will only keep developing if the movement keeps on growing.

Sébastien Delpont, associate director of Greenflex (the party that hosts Energiesprong France): “The Energiesprong movement will be financed by the European commission until the the beginning of 2019, by which stage some 50 houses will have been renovated. We need to think about ways to scale up after this, and in the Netherlands it took 5 years to reduce the costs by 50 percent. Our aim is to contribute to the climate objectives and combat fuel poverty in France. Therefore it would make sense to keep supporting this emerging sector with (decreasing) fundings towards pilot projects in each French region.”

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