Improving energy efficiency in apartment buildings
It is not only residents of detached or semi-detached homes who aspire to live sustainably and economically. People living in apartments and housing associations would also like to see their buildings become energy-neutral. Growing Green is an initiative designed to ensure that these homes can also take the giant step from a G towards an A ++ energy efficiency rating.
The Growing Green concept, simply put, involves attaching new façade elements to buildings. Homes will get new wooden windows with triple glazing and, on the outer wall an air / water heating pump will be installed. This pump is hidden in the outer wall and will incorporate planters. The new façade elements are prefabricated, easy to install and have an insulating effect. By incorporating the warming element in the wall, apartments will no longer have to have their own boilers, though the ‘cylinder unit’ will remain, serving as a catchment for the heated water which is collected. In addition to the energy improvement considerations, the Growing Green concept also focuses on achieving a healthier indoor climate: a factor of no less importance.
Besides the changes to the exterior, modifications will also be made to the interior of the apartments. In order to ensure all rooms have fresh air, heating and electricity an independent unit will be placed on the ceiling of some centre point within the dwelling. From this independent central unit each home will be able to adjust the conditions which best suit them.
The concept is attractive to both homeowners and housing associations, especially if a building consists of tenants as well as home owners. Growing Green need not necessarily be implemented in one go for an entire building. Homes can in fact be modified in stages, preferably when there is a change in residents. In fact, this is part of the inspiration for the name Growing Green: the concept spreading slowly, like ivy over an entire building, which is then further ‘greened’, complemented by the addition of planters.
Pilot testing site
The Woonbron Delft housing association has been drawn to the concept, and made a few apartments available for renovation. These will be the first homes in the Netherlands to be fitted with the Growing Green concept, and will serve as the testing location.
The Growing Green Project was initiated by Smits Vastgoedzorg from Rotterdam, and is the result of research collaboration with TNO (the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research) and TU Delft (the Delft University of Technology) about how sustainable concepts, applicable to the current housing options provided by housing associations or condominiums (owners associations) can be developed.