The largest environmental impact from the whole lifespan of a building derives from energy consumption. Buildings account for up to 40 % of the globally energy consumption (IEA, 2008). Improving standards for new buildings will only affect a small share of European buildings; renovation of the existing building stock is the much bigger challenge and opportunity. Renovating existing houses can be a powerful measure for energy efficiency in buildings, yet only 1.2 % of all buildings in Europe are renovated each year.
A number of important aspects must be taken into consideration when retrofitting buildings, and there are no “one-size-fits-all” solutions as the context and conditions vary from case to case. Cost-efficient renovations and investments can be achieved through a structured strategic planning and systematic approach. Furthermore, renovation efforts will only be sustainable if the buildings are managed properly afterwards.
The innovation is based on existing QA systems like ISO 9001 but integrates the tailored renovation and improvements of indoor climate and energy performance. The SQUARE project QA system approach takes the renovation or retrofitting value chain into account in order to avoid sub-optimisation and achieve economic and energy savings. It is an effective communication tool to reach more satisfied customers/tenants as well as the managing organization. SQUARE also includes on-line sharing of advice on how to operate/manage the buildings after renovation/retrofitting. By using the system, knowledge, continuity and communication can be assured. The SQUARE project was co-founded by the European Commission through the Programme Intelligent Energy Europe (public interest investor for demonstration and commercial exploitation).
Why did it work?
A number of multifamily housing blocks in Finland, Spain, Austria and Sweden have been retrofitted to a higher standard of energy and indoor environmental performance. The quality assurance system has been used to ensure that the most efficient measures were chosen and that the energy and indoor environmental performance is maintained throughout operation of the buildings.
The system has been used and further developed in the EU-project BEEM-UP. Since the QA system is ready for commercial deployment, the methodology reaches level 9 at the TRL scale.