Transforming net zero energy retrofits through empowering SMEs

15 April 2024

The Energiesprong Global Alliance is launching a new project with our European partners: Cosme Reno. The project goal is to develop net zero retrofits for housing organisations while empowering small and medium-sized enterprises to deliver those. By working and investing together, smaller construction companies can compete with existing frontrunners. They will be key to reach our fit for 55 target in the building industry. This project will run from 2023 to 2026, and the concept will be tested in France.

Due to an aging population and poor working conditions in the construction sector, there is a risk of a shortage of workers and skills in the coming years. To limit this risk as much as possible, especially at a time where we need to scale the retrofit market, small and medium-sized construction companies must play a greater role in renovating existing homes to net zero standards. Until recently, those net-zero retrofit where mostly done by larger construction companies, that had the R&D investment capability to undertake these types of projects. SMEs currently account for 90% of the market players in the construction sector. This new working method could lead to more than 160,000 new jobs in the energy and heating sector. Through this project, the EU is supporting the energy transition in the construction sector by reducing the use of fossil fuels in existing homes.

Collaboration and co-funding

To be able to offer complete net zero retrofits, cooperation between SMEs is necessary. In addition, there is a perception that investing in small and medium-sized companies is risky. Cosme Reno aims to address these obstacles by developing collaboration tools and creating shared investment and partnership opportunities. The use of prefabricated elements can help to guarantee that a retrofit will be successfully implemented, which then reduces the risk for investors.

Prefab labs for developing net zero solutions

SMEs can come together in ‘prefab labs’ to develop prefabricated façade elements or smart heating solutions. They can use advanced technologies from their direct colleagues. Together the components should lead to a total net zero retrofit solution. The prefab labs are supported by municipalities and public co-investors. During this project, we will investigate what exactly SMEs need. The results will be turned into blueprints which will be made publicly available. The first blueprint will be tested in France and, if successful, implemented in the other participating European countries.

This project is being carried out with partners in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy and Lithuania and will run from 2023 to 2026. All information related to the project will remain online for at least two years after the end of the project.

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