Currently, energy consumption associated with building operation is one of the main energy consumption sources in Europe. Given current construction rates, 80 percent of the European building stock in 2050 is already built, and most of this currently existent stock suffers already from poor energy performance. Therefore, from a perspective of energy conservation, the efficient streamlining of low or zero energy building renovation processes, involving both significant energy efficiency increases and renewable energy supply, constitutes a key action in order to achieve current energy consumption and emission reduction targets for EU countries, and to change unsustainable energy supply and consumption trends.
At the same time, large scale implementation of building renovation actions is affected by a number of barriers. The need for complex agreements, long returns of investment, and the fact that often, buildings with the worst performance belong to population sectors unable to afford comprehensive renovation actions, are amongst the main factors hindering a massive adoption of low or near zero energy building renovation (nZEBR) actions. In order to achieve successful implantation at a large scale, there is a need for the adoption of holistic approaches in renovation processes. This includes the adoption of innovative products and techniques, and the development of adequate management and financial frameworks.
Consequently, the main challenges for energy renovation processes faced by the ZenN project the following:
Technical challenges Providing cost effective technical solutions that substantially improve building energy performance while allowing for reasonable return of investment periods and are accepted by users.
Financial challenges Providing an adequate financial scheme to facilitate involvement from population sectors with limited resources,.
Property Structure challenges Complex property structures at the neighborhood scale often lead to actions that require broad and complex agreements.
Social Challenges Challenges related to the conservation of architectural qualities of buildings, user acceptance issues, etc.
With these varied challenges as a starting point, the project focuses in a number of targets which can be summarized in the following general objectives:
• The demonstration of the feasibility (technical, financial and social) of innovative low energy renovation processes for buildings at the neighborhood scale.
• The identification and dissemination of promising management and financial schemes to facilitate large scale replication.
• The launch of ambitious replication plans at several scales (local, regional etc), with the participation of local administrations.
The ZenN project will focus on the achievement of these objectives through the implementation and study of five Near Zero Energy Renovation demonstrations projects at neighborhood scale, located in several cities located in northern, central and southern Europe, as well as the development of a series of research, dissemination actions associated with these demonstrators. First, a common, flexible framework for near Zero Energy Building Renovation will be established, valid for all situations regardless of demonstrator specifics (climate, building construction, ownership structure etc.). All relevant aspects from the demonstrator actions (technical, energy related aspects, as well as financial and management aspects) will be studied, validated and when possible, optimized in the framework of the project. Renovation works will be carried out, incorporating optimized technical solutions while also addressing nontechnical issues. User awareness levels will be raised by the means of owner and tenant education, and local relevant sectors will be trained to assimilate best practices from a local perspective. Finally, ambitious replication plans will be laid out and refined in the course of the project, in an effort to reach the maximum impact from the experience attained through work in the demonstration objects.