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Making apartment blocks more energy efficient

3rd February 2017|POSTED BY: Admin

ARMA is grateful to the Centre for Sustainable Energy for providing this article. The organiation is an independent national charity that shares knowledge and experience to help people change the way they think and act on energy.

A recent EU-wide collaborative project looked at the challenges and opportunities involved in improving the energy efficiency of multi-occupancy properties that have a mixture of tenants and owner-occupiers.

Many important lessons and resources have come out of ‘Low Energy Apartment Futures’ that will help improve practice at different levels, ranging from local on-the-ground activity through to EU policy.

The three-year project involved partners and buildings from the UK and across Europe. The Centre for Sustainable Energy was one of the UK representatives, along with Changeworks.

A three-stage approach was used to understand and develop an effective approach to retrofit:

  1. Backed by extensive research, two toolkits were developed to help building managers, owners, occupiers and other stakeholders to plan and deliver retrofit projects – a technical toolkit (with information on costs, savings, subsidies and user behaviour) and an engagement toolkit (which offers advice on communicating with residents, decision making, obtaining legal agreements and gaining planning permission).
  2. The tools were used to work towards energy efficient retrofit in 24 case study buildings across Europe. Different approaches to retrofit were trialled to give on-the-ground experience of the complexities and difficulties in making changes to multi-occupancy apartments.
  3. A set of policy recommendations was developed in response to project findings and policy analysis. These suggest improvements to the retrofit process and call for better information provision, changes to Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), better funding and financial schemes, upskilling the workforce, raising standards, and implementing building maintenance and management plans.

An estimated 43% of Europeans live in flats. And since energy use in homes makes up a quarter of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in Europe, improving the energy efficiency of apartment buildings represents a significant opportunity to reduce emissions, and at the same time make buildings warmer and cheaper to run.

Bridget Newbery, Senior Community Projects Manager at the Centre for Sustainable Energy, said: “Low Energy Apartment Futures was wonderfully varied and has resulted in valuable practical experience of retrofit, reinforced by in-depth knowledge of how wider contextual factors affect retrofit success. We’ve used the lessons learned to develop tools and make important policy recommendations that could remove or shrink many of the hurdles that deter people from taking on, or completing, energy efficiency improvements in multi-occupancy buildings.”

For Full EU and national policy recommendations, case study summaries and to download the toolkits, visit the LEAF website at: