From mid 2014 onwards BAM renovated 55 rental properties in the Bosboomstraat and surrounding area in Heerhugowaard to turn them into zero-energy homes. The houses have been 'wrapped' in prefab façades with triple glazing and new roofs, into which solar panels have been integrated. A heat pump provides heating and hot water and the properties no longer have to be connected to the gas mains.

What is new?

Rental properties which are 40 years old have been renovated to become zero-energy homes. Once renovated the properties consume as much energy each year as they produce. The project is one of the first and largest of its kind. Other zero-energy renovations of rental properties have already been carried out in Soesterberg, Groningen and Tilburg.

State of Affairs

State of Affairs

A total of 81 rental properties dating from the nineteen seventies were involved in this project. In the old situation the tenants paid around 2,000 euros per year on gas and electricity and that money has been used to finance the renovation. BAM executed the renovation work as follows:

  • The façades and the roof have been renewed and the houses have been 'wrapped' in new prefab façades and roofs.
  • The windows are now triple glazed.
  • The roofs have been fitted with solar panels at the front and back.
  • Behind the properties is an energy module consisting of an air-water heat pump and balanced ventilation with heat recovery.
  • The crawl space has been insulated.
  • The properties are no longer connected to the gas mains, but they are still connected to the electricity grid. Where necessary the properties have also been fitted with new kitchens, bathrooms or toilets.

Generally speaking the residents are positive about the renovation, both from the perspective of comfortable living and the modernised facilities. As regards energy performance, all the renovated properties were indeed zero-energy during the first year (2015).

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The 2013 Energy Agreement ( stipulates, among other things, that

up until 2020, 300,000 existing properties must improve their energy label rating by two levels each year (see also

In 2020 all new-build properties must be (nearly) zero-energy. The deadline for existing properties is 2050.

From 2015 onwards the energy label is obligatory whenever properties are sold, rented or completed. There are various classes, ranging from energy label A (extremely energy-efficient) to G (extremely inefficient). The energy label is determined on the basis of 10 characteristics, including the year of construction, housing type, installation, type of heating, type of hot water provision and the presence of solar panels and/or a solar boiler.

Zero-energy properties and energy-plus properties have the highest energy label, namely A.

'Energiesprong' and 'Stroomversnelling'

The renovation of existing properties to turn them into zero-energy properties is technically not difficult and the first steps towards scaling up the initiative have already been taken in recent years. In this context the innovation and experiments programme called 'Energiesprong' has played an important role. This programme by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations was completed at the end of 2016, with the aim being 'to generate large-scale supply and demand for zero-energy buildings, meaning houses, offices, schools and care institution buildings'. Initially, the objective was a 60% to 80% energy reduction for buildings, but that was revised to zero-energy.

The focus was not only on the technical possibilities but also on regulations and financing. For example, the energy performance fee (EPV) was given a legal basis while the programme was being implemented. This implies that landlords are allowed to levy an energy performance fee in the case of zero-energy properties, in addition to rent and service charges. In such instances tenants do not pay gas and electricity charges to an energy supplier, but instead pay the landlord for energy performance (a comfortable home and zero-energy).

As regards new or renovated properties the 'Energiesprong' activities have been continued by the 'Stroomversnelling' Association. This is a partnership of builders, municipalities, housing corporations, financial institutions and other market parties, which was set up in 2015 in order to 'facilitate zero-energy on a large scale for existing buildings and new builds'.

According to there are currently well over 1,000 zero-energy properties in our country.

Characteristics of zero-energy properties

According to Milieu Centraal the main characteristic of a zero-energy property is a balance between energy consumption and energy generation. That balance is feasible if the amount of energy consumed is as low as possible and if the energy is generated sustainably. A zero-energy renovation usually involves the following modifications:

  • Extremely good insulation, for example HR++ glass or triple glazing, no gaps, insulation in the roof, floors and walls;
  • A ventilation system, often with heat recovery.
  • A heating system with low-temperature underfloor heating. Hot water (under 55 degrees) which comes from a heat pump or solar boiler.
  • Solar panels.
  • Measurement equipment for the proper monitoring of energy consumption and generation.

There are other options, for example biomass stoves.

For many people zero-energy living or energy performance are insufficient motivation to improve their property, or have it improved. They are, however, motivated by low costs and comfortable living (for example underfloor heating and good quality insulation).


In the case of new builds, the additional costs of a zero-energy property are approximately 15,000 euros. In the case of renovation of existing properties the costs are probably at least twice as much. The Dutch Urgenda Foundation is trying to achieve an average investment, via its construction company 'Thuisbaas', of 35,000 euros.

Milieu Centraal has calculated that, if a property purchaser purchases a zero-energy house right now and continues to live there for 15 years, he or she will save 15,000 euros compared to purchasing and residing in a standard house dating from 2006. With regard to properties which date from before 2006, that saving can increase to more than twice that amount.

Plenty of subsidies are available for measures to make a property sustainable. Despite this the costs for homeowners are still a hindrance in many instances. The expectation is that those costs will decrease in the coming years, similarly to the costs of solar panels. The website contains numerous examples of owners who made their homes zero-energy, as well as plenty of information about measures for making your home sustainable.

In the case of large-scale renovation by housing corporations, making older properties zero-energy can be done by investing the long-term monthly amount for gas and electricity in the property. Following the renovation the resident will no longer pay the monthly amount to the energy supplier, but to the landlord in the form of an energy performance fee.

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