Helping families to invest in green homes

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In this short interview, Steven Borncamp, Project Director of SMARTER Finance for Families, explains the success of the project and emphasises the role of H2020 financial support necessary to replicate its achievements to 11 new countries. 

What is your project about?

Our project is based on the idea that setting very ambitious standards for green homes and providing financial tools to achieve them is great for citizens, industry and the whole green economy. What does our project do? We are trying to shift buyers’ mind-set from just looking at the home’s sales price to think about the total cost of ownership, including energy, health costs and also repair costs. If buyers think in these terms, they can pay less on a monthly basis and get a better, greener home with a smaller energy bill that is more comfortable and healthier. In this way, they use finance to bring resources into their project at the critical early stage in order to build correctly and they get the benefit for many years.

What is your biggest achievement?

We have identified certain builders that created fantastic homes that met or exceeded Europe Net-Zero energy standards, and the construction waste directive ahead of schedule. We encouraged other builders to aim higher and to achieve those standards too. We have about 25 projects, which represent around 6500 housing units and about 10% of market share of new homes delivered in Romania. An even bigger achievement is that we have received H2020 funding to replicate this to 11 new countries – reaching 306 mln citizens. We have a real chance to have positive impacts in all those new countries.

How do you think did Horizon 2020 funding help in development of your project?

Our programme was already sustainable by itself in Romania. However, to expand we needed the funding and partnerships H2020 brings. This gives us the resources to manage the project across its 17 organisations and 14 total countries (Denmark and Belgium are providing research expertise but are not yet implementing the mortgage program). 

What is your key to success to get funding? 

You have to love the idea, not looking for funding, but love your idea and the funds will help catalyse and expand it. The key to our success was that we really believed in the project, we had some of the key parts tested, but where we really needed assistance was its expansion. We understood how the project worked, what everyone had to do, and we had a high degree of confidence in replicating our success and in making all the participating countries benefit from it. 

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