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A System for Quality Assurance when Retrofitting existing buildings to Energy efficient buildings (SQUARE)

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The SQUARE project aims to assure energy efficient retrofitting of multifamily housing with good indoor environment, in a systematic and controlled way. To achieve this, a quality assurance (QA) system for retrofitting and maintenance has been adopted to conditions in several European countries and implemented in four pilot projects in Austria, Spain, Sweden and Finland. The QA system supports decision-making and ensures that the most suitable energy efficient retrofitting measures are chosen for each case. The QA system has been spread in several European countries by the use in pilot projects and in other renovation projects. These experiences have been used to improve the QA system. The pilot projects act as good examples to inspire and encourage other multifamily housing owners and housing associations to carry through energy efficient retrofitting projects. A number of dissemination activities have been carried out in the project in order to spread knowledge and experience to owners, contractors, consultants, national authorities, municipalities, tenants etc. on local, national and international level.


  • A quality assurance (QA) system has been introduced in the retrofitting process to ensure that the most efficient measures are chosen and that a high level of integrated energy and indoor environmental performance is maintained throughout operation of the buildings.
  • Up-to-date knowledge, good examples of successful energy-intelligent solutions tailored to the multifamily housing sector have been collected from the participating countries and disseminated through out Europe.
  • A number of multifamily housing blocks in Austria, Finland, Spain and Sweden have been retrofitted to a higher standard of energy and indoor environmental performance by applying the QA system.
  • Experience from pilot projects in the participating countries applying the QA system has been collected. The SQUARE project has provided visible and marketable data on savings and indoor air quality performance of the retrofitted pilot projects, which will be disseminated all over Europe and in international forums.

Lessons learned

  • A quality assurance system can not be forced onto organizations. If the organisation has an existing management system such as ISO 9001 or similar in place, the best thing is to integrate the new indoor environment and energy use aspects in the existing system and not create parallel QA Systems. If there is no existing system, the SQUARE QA system has all the basic elements of a quality management system. New elements must be customised to suit the organisations’ culture and activities.
  • Quality assurance is an essential tool for improving the energy efficiency in the European building stock, but the full practical implementation of a QA system is often difficult. Routines are carried out but documented feedback to the system, essential for the further improvement of the processes, is often missing. There is a need for guidelines to help the organisations understand the practical implication content of the QA system.
  • Low energy refurbishments often require thorough actions on the building envelope. But due to the high costs, this is not done unless the outer facade is damaged and need to be replaced. Effectively, this means the many large renovation projects will only reach part of the way in improving the energy efficiency, compared to the potential. Targeted support to new approaches in e.g. product and method development and dissemination of knowledge is therefore required.

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SP Sveriges Tekniska Forsningsinstitut
Contact point: 
Kristina Mjornell


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In brief

01/11/2007 to 30/04/2010
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