The government promotes energy conservation by concluding agreements with different industries. For instance, homeowners can take out low-interest loans to pay for double glazing or floor insulation, and landlords in the subsidised rental sector can apply for grants to fund energy-saving measures.
Promoting energy efficiency
Central government has reached agreements on saving energy with a variety of partners, including business. The most important of these agreements are listed below.
- Industry must reduce its energy use, for instance by employing more efficient manufacturing processes and utilising residual heat.
- The horticulture sector will cultivate fruit and vegetables in a more energy-efficient way using Next Generation Cultivation Methods. New greenhouses will be climate-neutral from 2020 onwards, under the Multi-year Energy Transition Agreement in the Glass Horticulture Sector 2014-2020.
- IT firms will use energy more efficiently, with the target of halving energy use in the IT sector by 2030
Saving energy in homes and other buildings
The government aims to make homes and other buildings (like schools, shops and offices) more energy efficient. To this end central government has concluded agreements with a variety of organisations in recent years. Various measures have also been announced, some of which have begun to be implemented. Here are some examples:
Low-interest loans for energy-saving measuresSince 21 January 2014, homeowners have been able to take out low-interest loans to fund energy-saving measures in their homes, such as double glazing or floor insulation. Applications for these ‘energy efficiency loans’ can be submitted to the National Energy Saving Fund.
€400 million for energy-saving measures in the subsidised rental sectorSince 1 July 2014 it has been possible for landlords in the subsidised rental sector to apply for grants to fund energy-saving measures. The total budget available for the scheme is €400 million. The ministerial order and the conditions for eligibility were published in the Government Gazette. Grants are available to both housing associations and private landlords, and to qualify the monthly rent for the property in question must not exceed €700. Grant applications should be submitted to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. This scheme is another of the measures contained in the Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth.
Energy-saving fund for landlordsA fund dedicated to providing landlords with low-interest loans to cover renovations that make major energy-efficiency improvements is being launched, probably in the autumn of 2014. These loans will be available both to housing associations and private landlords, irrespective whether the rent is above or below the deregulation threshold. A total sum of €300 million will be available, €75 million of which is being provided by central government. The scheme is one of the measures contained in the Housing Agreement.
Guarantee fund for energy-saving measures by homeowners’ associationsA guarantee fund is being established for energy-saving measures taken by homeowners’ associations. Central government will contribute up to €35 million. Details of the scheme still need to be worked out, but it is expected to be launched at the start of 2015.
Making existing homes and other buildings more energy efficientImprovements will be made to some 300,000 existing homes and other buildings each year under the voluntary agreement on making existing homes and buildings more energy efficient concluded between central government and a number of sectoral organisations in the construction, engineering and energy industries.
Stricter energy-efficiency requirements for new homesNew homes will have to be almost zero-energy by 2020, which means they must generate almost as much energy as they consume. To achieve this aim, the energy performance coefficient (EPC) will be reduced gradually; the lower the EPC, the more energy efficient a building is. By 2015, the energy consumption of all new building must be 50% lower than 2007 levels. In the Spring Agreement on Energy Conservation in New Buildings it was agreed by central government, the construction industry and the housing sector that all new government buildings will be nearly zero-energy by the end of 2018.
Agreement on making rented homes more energy efficientIt has been agreed with the rented housing sector that from 2020 all homes rented out by housing associations must have an energy label of B or better, and that 80% of privately rented homes must have a label of at least C. The details are laid down in the voluntary agreement on energy conservation in the rented housing sector.
More energy-efficient heating and ventilation systemsHeating, hot water, cooling and large ventilation systems must become more energy efficient. Since 1 December 2013, following an amendment to the order regulating the energy performance of buildings, air conditioning systems with a total cooling power output of more than 12 kW have been required to undergo compulsory inspections. The new rules apply to air conditioning systems in all buildings, including homes. Heating systems with an output of more than 20 kW powered by means other than gas, as well as gas-powered heating systems with an output in excess of 100 kW, must also be inspected periodically.
Examples of energy-saving projects in homes and other buildings
The following ongoing projects aim to save energy in new and existing buildings:
The Block-by-Block ProjectMunicipalities and businesses are working together on 14 projects to make at least 33,500 homes more energy efficient. In order to reduce costs, the homes concerned are being upgraded block by block. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency evaluated this approach in 2014 in its report 'Blok-voor-blok: de bevindingen' (Block-by-block: the findings).
Energy LeapThe government’s innovation programme Energiesprong (‘Energy Leap’) is encouraging construction companies and their customers to adopt innovative methods, for instance in the construction of homes and offices.
Zero-energy zones (GEN)With central government support, a group of companies is working to gather knowledge that can be used to develop ‘zero-energy zones’ in the future.
Areas of ExcellenceThe Areas of Excellence are 19 innovative new construction projects. The buildings in these areas will be 25% more energy efficient than required by the Buildings Decree.