Stepping up the sustainable conversion of homes

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Solar panels on front of a house

ABN AMRO concludes that to meet the Climate Agreement's requirements, we need to speed up the sustainable conversion of the built environment. This is also a must if we are to shift the Dutch energy mix to 80 to 95 percent sustainable before 2050. The built environment contributes a good 40 percent of carbon emissions. Although agreements are in place for offices and social housing, this is not yet the case for owner-occupied homes. However, there is much ground to be gained in the rental sector as well, since the energy labels of only 60,000 rental homes are improved annually – which totals to less than 3 percent of all housing stock. These conclusions were published today in ABN AMRO's report on this issue: Op duurzaamheid kun je bouwen.

Wake-up call for the private sector

Although housing corporations indeed have to commit more to making their rental properties sustainable, there's much more to do, according to ABN AMRO's report. Among private home-owners, too, awareness must grow of the need to improve the sustainability of their homes. After all, the vast majority of the housing stock consists of owner-occupied homes. Although newly constructed houses can be subject to agreements, there's no way to make collective agreements about the existing ones. ABN AMRO also points out that nowhere near all rented and owner-occupied homes have a final energy label; currently only 33 percent of the total housing stock does. Housing corporations have committed to ensuring all of their rental property has a B label or higher by 2020. The equivalent for rental property in the private sector would be a C label for 80 percent of these homes across the board.

Sustainable conversion increases value of home

One third of total power consumption can be attributed to the built environment, of which homes and offices make up the main components. The Netherlands hold a number one position among European countries when it comes to natural gas consumption: 98 percent of Dutch homes are connected to the gas grid. As such, housing corporations and private home-owners have to explore new solutions so we can meet our energy requirements. ABN AMRO's report concludes that a sizable investment is needed, although awareness among home-owners is still insufficient.

Madeline Buijs, Sector Economist Construction ABN AMRO, offers sound advice: "If you're buying a house with a gas connection, preparing the home for alternative energy now would be wise. After all, the shift from gas to sustainable energy in the housing sector is just a matter of time. And at the moment, housing corporations are mostly selling off property with low energy labels, which is good for their own portfolio but not beneficial to the total housing stock. Although sustainable conversion is costly, it also offers many advantages. In addition to cutting energy costs, it increases the property's value. Higher energy label homes get sold faster and fetch higher prices than their lower label counterparts. And besides, large-scale sustainable conversion can reduce overall costs. A major challenge lies ahead of us, since at least half of the housing supply still has to be converted. The government needs to take the lead in this endeavour."

The full report can be downloaded here (in Dutch only)

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