Creating net-zero energy buildings: meet EUSEW19 Awards winner Transition Zero - EnergieSprong

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The H2020 project TransitionZero – Energie Sprong won the EUSEW Award under the innovation category during the EU Sustainable Energy Week 2019, on 18 June. We met Ron Van Erck, Head of International Market Development, and Sébastien Delpont, Director of EnergieSprong France, and asked them a few questions about their project and Horizon2020 funding. 

Can you tell us what is your project about? 

Ron Van Erck: The project tries to create a market for high quality retrofits in Europe. It’s based on the Dutch initiative EnergieSprong, which has been scaled to about 5000 net-zero energy retrofits in Europe and scaled them to France and the UK, where first projects has now been completed as well. The idea is that retrofits not only provide a super energy efficient house but also a house that is much more desirable to look at and to live in for people who live in there. I think that by industrialising the solution it becomes much easier to bring high-quality and quick-to-install desirable solutions to consumers. 

Sébastien Delpont: Indeed, the project is about transforming the whole housing stocks of existing buildings, which is very energy consuming, into net-zero energy buildings.

What is your major achievement? 

Ron Van Erck: While this was an idea that had been tried and tested only in the context of the Dutch market, in three years the H2020 programme allowed us to mobilize several hundreds of people across Europe (mostly in Germany, France and the UK so far), who started developing off-site net-zero energy retrofits solutions and implemented them in their building stock. I think by growing in scale the skills improve and the ability to bring this to market increases, so I see this as a huge accomplishment.  

Sébastien Delpont: For me, a major achievement is showing to people that this project can work in France, too. This country is often considered so different (and difficult), General De Gaulle would say that it is impossible to govern a country with more than 365 cheeses. But if this solution works in France, it can work anywhere and that’s a lesson to success: don’t pretend that we are so different. As European citizens, we have more identities and elements in common than we think. A good practice in a country can be spread out in any other European country, it is just about how we can mobilize enough people to make it feasible. 

Which is your key to success to receive H2020 funding? 

Ron Van Erck: For the application, the key to success is always to have a good project idea. There are many difficulties to shape that in the right way, but it starts all with a suitable idea and a number of partners that are aligned behind that idea. If you have a project that really brings partners together, it becomes much easier to also create a project application. 

Sébastien Delpont: I think the key to success is providing a positive project that is at the same time simple and strong, ambitious and radical, so that it can adopt the support of several stakeholders to make it feasible. It is not the success of one person or one organisation, it is the success of the most innovative and prone-to-change-the-world people of any and every business sectors. Without the support of the best architects, the best engineering firms, the best construction companies, banks or social housing organisations we could never reach the point. And European funding was instrumental for this cooperation. 

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