Sanne de Wit.

An Interview.
By Karin Zauner. 
Co-Founder of Housing4Europe.Org

Q: What does the word “Energiesprong” mean? What is an Energiesprong retrofit?

Sanne de Wit
Energiesprong is a Dutch initiative, literally translated it means: ‘Energy Leap’.

An Energiesprong retrofit aims at making homes net-zero energy. Net-zero energy means the house generates the total amount of energy required for its heating, hot water and electrical appliances over a year

It also provides superior indoor comfort. This can be achieved by using new technologies such as prefabricated facades, insulated rooftops with solar panels, smart heating, and ventilation and cooling installations. A refurbishment comes with a long-year performance warranty on both the indoor climate and the energy performance for up to 30 years. A complete home makeover can be completed in less than 10 days, and some have been done in as little as a day!

Q: Who invented the Energiesprong principle?

Sanne de Wit
Energiesprong was commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Interior Kingdom Relations and run from 2010 till 2016 under the experiments program of Platform31. Energiesprong resulted from this as the most successful innovative approach for net-zero energy retrofits. Since 2017 the Energiesprong approach has spread over Europe.

Q: What are the advantages of your new renovation method?

Sanne de Wit
The Energiesprong approach results not only in energy upgrades but also increases the quality of living. Homes that do not meet current -let alone future- standards are turned into desirable, warm and affordable homes.
Because the approach works with off-site manufacturing, the nuisance for residents can be kept to a minimum. As is the time that is needed to complete a retrofit.
We work with independent Market Development Teams (MDT’s) per country who know, and broker deals between, both the demand and supply side of their market and work with regulators to tune policy and regulation, and with banks to create financial arrangements. All to make a viable path to scale.

Q: Is Energiesprong suitable for social housing for people on low incomes? How does Energiesprong affect rents?

Sanne de Wit
Because volume is the key to a viable path to scale, Housing Organisations are our first organisations of interest. The bigger the volume, the more costs can go down and the more interesting the Energiesprong approach will get. To both Housing Organisations (home owners) and industry. As the volume goes up, the more promising the market will be to the construction companies. Hence, a win-win situation.

About rents:
The aim is that the money that you’d normally spend on your energy bills, combined with reduced repairs and maintenance costs, pays for the renovation. You get a make-over for your house without any additional costs. This means rents will not change, only differently accrued.
In other words: the monthly energy bill and maintenance costs get invested in the retrofit. Same rent, better home.

Q: What size does the housing stock have to be, so that an Energiesprong retrofit pays off?

Sanne de Wit
The European Union has set its target on becoming climate neutral by 2050. As a stepping stone in that direction, the goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030. Seen in this light, every net-zero energy retrofit pays off.

The volume of the housing stock influences the costs of the retrofits. The maxim is the higher the volume, the lower the costs.

Q: In which countries “Energiesprong houses” are realized?

Sanne de Wit
Energiesprong works through independent Market Development Teams (MDT’s). At this moment there is a MDT in the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Italy. Outside of Europe, we work with the USA: State of New York (NYSERDA) and California (Rocky Mountain Institute).

In Europe, over 5000 homes have been retrofitted to net-zero energy. As we speak, over 20.000 homes are in the pipeline.

Q: Is “Energiesprong” in your opinion the only realistic way to a decarbonized building stock until 2050 in the EU?

Sanne de Wit
As an award-winning approach, Energiesprong has earned her stripes. Accelerating innovation through competition, having a rising tide lifts all ships’ mindset and being open and transparent on everything, the aim is to get the job done. Working with frontrunning homeowners, financiers, solution providers and regulators is the challenge and opportunity in one. In our opinion, that is the way to go but it doesn’t necessarily have to be Energiesprong. We warmly welcome all other approaches that can make it happen.