NEF’s net zero homes Energiesprong project wins prestigious Ashden Award

26th June 2019

The pioneering Energiesprong approach to get UK homes up to the proposed net zero energy standard has won a first prize in the 2019 Ashden Awards. The award recognises the role of the National Energy Foundation in championing the Energiesprong retrofit standard in the UK.

Energiesprong is one of just 10 initiatives from across the globe to win a 2019 Ashden Award. Each winner’s work aligns with Ashden’s hopes to see carbon emissions fall to zero before 2050. The National Energy Foundation (NEF) and Energiesprong UK will receive the first prize in the UK Sustainable Buildings category at the prestigious Ashden Awards ceremony on 3rd July.

Gabby Mallett, NEF’s Director of Operations, commented: “We’re delighted that Ashden has recognised the potential of Energiesprong. It’s a great fit to meet the new government target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050. It’s also a great fit for NEF’s mission to improve the use of energy in buildings.”

Ashden assessors applauded Energiesprong’s potential to radically cut carbon from the UK’s housing stock by refurbishing older hard to heat homes, both faster and in higher numbers. They also noted Energiesprong’s progress including the rollout of Energiesprong retrofit to homes in Nottingham and pilots including in Maldon, Essex. A total of 186 Energiesprong retrofits are now confirmed with 155 Nottingham households set to benefit from the rollout this year.

Emily Braham, Head of Team at Energiesprong UK, said: "There are 11 million homes in the UK we could retrofit to Energiesprong's net zero energy standard with today's technology. Working with NEF and the TZ and E=0 projects has helped us build significant demand for a model we've shown can work, with front-running landlords who own more than 100,000 homes. At 40,000 homes per year costs will reduce to make the retrofit self-financing, which we are targeting by 2030."

NEF champions innovative new Energiesprong standard

The National Energy Foundation has a long history of supporting retrofit innovations in the private and social housing sectors, including award-winning initiatives such as SuperHomes, WHISCERS™ and the current Cosy Homes partnership in Oxfordshire. NEF has championed Energiesprong since early 2015.

Energiesprong is a revolutionary, whole house refurbishment approach that transforms poorly insulated and draughty homes into warm, comfortable, net zero energy homes, for life. Each refurbished home produces enough clean energy to meet its heating, hot water and appliance needs. Money that would normally be spent on energy bills and maintenance pays for the works.

Liz Male, chair of the National Energy Foundation, says: “NEF has consistently promoted whole-house retrofit as a way to transform comfort in older homes. The great thing about Energiesprong is that energy performance is not just modelled or predicted - it is monitored and guaranteed.”

Two EU-funded projects - Horizon 2020 Transition Zero and Interreg NWE E=0 - have allowed the inspirational Energiesprong model to be lifted from The Netherlands and adapted for the UK and France. Germany is now also in the process of adopting the model.

As Transition Zero project lead, the National Energy Foundation played the key role in introducing Energiesprong to the UK: managing project finances, recruiting a development team, coordinating reporting and promoting low energy renovation. NEF’s involvement in the E=0 project takes this one step further – to demonstration, with several active pilots in Maldon and Nottingham.

UK frontrunners drive the transformation to net zero buildings

UK Energiesprong frontrunners include Nottingham City Homes who, in late 2018, unveiled the UK’s first Energiesprong pilot in Sneinton, Nottingham. This 10-home pilot was delivered by solution provider Melius Homes and supported by Energiesprong UK and the European Horizon 2020 Remourban project. A second 17-home pilot is underway in Nottingham and a 5-home pilot in Maldon, Essex, delivered by ENGIE and GSA for Moat Homes, is nearing completion.

Nottingham City Council, Head of Energy Services, Wayne Bexton said: "Holistic solutions are undoubtedly the future. After hitting our 2020 energy strategy targets early, we've now committed to becoming a net zero carbon city by 2028. Our pilot of 10 Energiesprong properties within Nottingham has been hugely successful and we look forward to the continued deployment."

Energiesprong pilots are essential for adapting the model to local conditions and early challenges, like strict planning requirements in Maldon. Simon Lacey, Regional Managing Director at ENGIE says: “Although the solution is simple in its concept and within ENGIE’s expertise, implementing retrofit solutions can be very complex. We created a bespoke solution for each of the five properties providing the same Energiesprong result, all while keeping the street scene the same as per planning permissions.”

One of the problems facing housing providers in the UK, is the number of older homes that are expensive to keep comfortably warm, even though their EPC rating is not the worst. Jason Amos, Director of Property Services at Moat, says of the Maldon pilot “These properties were a low D EPC rating but bills were particularly high. The retrofit has allowed us to build a highly insulated house around the existing property with new wall, roof and insulation under the floors with the aim to move these homes to an A rating.” 

Nick Murphy, Chief Executive of Nottingham City Homes, commented "We’ve got to do something with the UK’s existing housing stock, most of our homes have been built in decades or even centuries past … we’ve got to think about the standards that are right for the future. Tenants in our pilot absolutely love it. Cold homes have become warm, comfortable and affordable to heat."

Energiesprong sets a radically high energy performance standard – net zero energy. Unusually, the onus is on the building contractor (the solution provider) to meet this standard over the long term – up to 30 years. An Energiesprong retrofit must deliver 21°C year-round temperature in the living room, 40 minutes of hot water a day, plus adequate clean electricity to run appliances. As the end user must incur no extra costs, this contributes to a fair energy transition to lower carbon lifestyles.

Another major challenge is how the UK will insulate its older housing stock in time for 2050. Recent reports from the Institute of Engineering and Technology and the Green Alliance point to Energiesprong as the way forward. The learning from the Netherlands is that, with sufficient volume, solution providers will invest in the offsite industrial manufacture needed to generate high volume retrofit across Europe.

Recent Energiesprong retrofits have included insulated wall and roof panels that were assembled offsite. Ultimately this will lead to lower cost, higher quality and faster retrofits causing minimal disruption to occupants. David Adams, Technical Director of Melius Homes, says his team is setting up a factory to support the Nottingham rollout, so they can make panels even more bespoke.

Ashden commented: “Energiesprong holds huge promise because it can scale. With industrialisation, costs come down, retrofits get faster and further quality gains become possible. As we move towards a zero-carbon society we can then really look forward to everyone living in a desirable, comfortable home that is affordable to heat.”

Notes for editors


National Energy Foundation
Established in 1988, NEF is an independent, national charity at the forefront of improving the use of energy in buildings: understanding energy use; improving new and existing buildings; helping householders save energy and money; providing impartial advice; undertaking research and innovation, and tackling fuel poverty.

In June 2019 Energiesprong won an EU Sustainable Energy Award and in 2018 it won a World Green Building Council award, whilst Nottingham’s pilot won the UK Housing Award and Shift Award. Energiesprong is now active in Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, New York and the UK. Cities across the world recognise the Energiesprong opportunity. Energiesprong – which mean ‘energy leap’ in Dutch, originated in The Netherlands. It is a revolutionary, whole house refurbishment and new build standard and funding approach. On both sides of the channel Energiesprong teams have been working to scale this approach. By brokering deals with social housing providers in the UK and France they aim to create volume demand for Energiesprong retrofits, leading to industrialisation and so higher quality and reduced retrofit costs. and

Transition Zero
The Transition Zero project has enabled teams in the UK and France to address local regulatory, financial and supply chain barriers to progress towards net zero energy retrofit. Teams engaged both the social housing sector and SMEs to create a market and supply chain for Energiesprong retrofits. As a result, in France there is a collective agreement to support the renovation of 6550 homes. In the UK a rollout of Energiesprong to 155 homes is now underway led by Nottingham City Homes. 31 further Energiesprong retrofits in the UK are already completed or are in progress, so 186 retrofits are confirmed in total and dozens more are in the pipeline. Solution providers like Melius Homes and ENGIE in the UK and Rabot-Dutilleul Construction and Bouygues in France have all shown a strong lead by taking on the technical challenge of delivering near net zero energy retrofit pilots with a 30 year performance guarantee. Transition Zero is part of the Horizon 2020 programme funded by the European Union.

E=0 pilots
The E=0 project has supported four Energiesprong retrofit pilot projects - 2 in the UK and 2 in France. A dedicated local Energiesprong team has supported pilots led by Moat Homes in Maldon and Nottingham City Homes in Nottingham, plus Vilogia in HEM and ICF Habitat in Longeau in France. French pilots in HEM and Longeau are now complete. The UK Maldon pilot is nearing completion and a new Nottingham 17-home pilot is underway and set for completion this summer. E=0 is funded by the European Union’s Interreg NWE programme.
Read more here.

Ashden Awards
Established in 2001, the Ashden Awards are globally recognised as a mark of excellence in the field of green energy.  They recognise initiatives breaking new ground in renewable energy generation, reducing energy demand, increasing access to energy, or encouraging more sustainable forms of building and transport.