The Total Cost of Living in Relation to Energy Efficiency Upgrades in the Dutch, Multi-Residential Building Stock

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Decarbonizing the housing stock is one of the largest challenges in the built environment today, and is getting attention not only from policymakers, but also from social housing corporations, financial and tenants’ organisations. In line with the international Paris-Climate-Change-Conference 2015, Dutch cities and housing associations have embraced this challenge with the ambitions to become carbon neutral in 2050. To reach such ambitious goals, both the rate and depth of renovation need to increase significantly. In the Netherlands, the Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth, indicates that 300.000 dwellings have to be renovated annually, in accordance with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive adopted by the European Union, to improve the Dutch building stock towards energy neutrality. Several technical solutions to eliminate the energy demand in dwelling have been developed and tested. Nevertheless, the intake rate of deep retrofitting is low. Currently, most improvements in residential buildings consist of basic maintenance and shallow renovation, but broader or deeper energy renovation measures are required. Despite more recent developments, there are still significant barriers related to financing, lack of information, and user acceptance. Complex technical characteristics are not always taken into account by tenants; the focus is usually on the ease of use, comfort and living expenses.

To this end, the present study sets of to investigate the relationship between energy efficiency upgrade measures and cost of living. Focusing on the post-war, multi-family social housing in the Netherlands, a framework of refurbishment measures that affect the energy efficiency were identified, and their performance was simulated. The variations refer to the façade design, thermal envelope upgrade, winter-garden addition and reviewable energy. The energy efficiency indicator is the energy cost reduction, as well as the carbon footprint of the energy use. Furthermore, the rental price adjustment was estimated, taking into account the refurbishment investment and the operation cost of the renovated dwellings. All tested combination of variables resulted in significant energy savings, up to 70%, while energy generation was proven to be cost-effective, as it has a considerable positive effect on the energy use and the energy cost, without increasing the rental price.

The results aim at supporting the decision-making discussion between the stakeholders, primarily housing associations and tenants. The relation between the energy consumption and rental price for the different options identifies the effect of design variation and demonstrated the attractive solutions that the tenants are more likely to accept, taking into account the overall cost of living and sustainability benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSmart and Sustainable Cities and Buildings
EditorsRob Roggema, Anouk Roggema
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-37635-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-37634-5
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project

Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Renovation
  • Cost of living
  • Energy efficiency


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