ING and Vattenfall pilot green home initiative

17 May 2019 ... min read Listen

It’s all about making your house more sustainable: for the environment – and for your wallet. But where do you start? A new initiative from ING and European electricity company Vattenfall should help.

illustration: Installing solar panels

Menno Westveld and Ivo Hilderink are not exactly typically Dutch. They’ve already done a lot of work on their home to make it more comfortable and more sustainable – not so much to save money, but because they support the environment. They both volunteer at the community organisation Energy Active Soest, trying to convince fellow residents to do the same.

"Most people will do it to save money," says Ivo. And that's fine too.

Because it’s clear that we have to get moving. The Netherlands’ Energy Agreement sets an ambitious goal: by 2030 we must emit 49% less CO2 in the Netherlands and in 2050 our country must even be energy neutral. Houses and offices account for 20% of CO2e emissions, and are more than 8 million homes in the country. If we want to achieve these goals, more than 1,000 Dutch households must start improving their homes every day.

Door-to-door

In Soest, Ivo and Menno go door-to-door to get residents enthusiastic about making their home more energy-efficient. But to be honest, it’s not going very fast.

"People aren’t prone to spontaneously start taking action," says Gerrit Vledder from Soest’s Energy department, where residents can turn to for information and which supports the volunteers at Energy Active Soest.

Gerrit outlines a number of problems: “Things like insulating the walls or roof, or installing energy-efficient windows are things you do once in your life, so most have no idea what it costs, let alone what it yields. When you search the internet, you come across so much information that you get frustrated. And then the question is: who can you trust? Because there are also some not-so-professional people active in the market. All in all, this means that on average it will take another 1.5 years before homeowners start turning their plans for sustainability into action.”

Could the answer to all those questions be a platform that offers advice for homeowners, combined with financial solutions and a quality network of contractors to implement the changes? Project leader and fellow Soest resident Menno Lanting started this assignment a year ago for ING, together with Vattenfall, one of Europe’s largest producers and retailers of electricity and heat.

“As large companies, we have a social responsibility. ING and Vattenfall started talking about how we can contribute to making the Dutch housing market more sustainable. A small team from the ING Labs innovation centre started trying to find an answer,” says Menno Lanting.

Quick direct insight

"Many customer conversations and checks showed that using data and digital technologies in a smart way would help a lot," says Menno Lanting. ING Labs developed a tool that can quickly check your home by using data from public sources such as the government’s property and land registration office. A test is now running in Soest.

“You immediately see what energy measures cost and what they bring you. You also get immediate insight into financing – either with your own money, or through your mortgage or a loan – and then we help you to get in touch with qualified companies who can also implement the changes,” says Menno Lanting.

After completing the tool, you can also make an appointment at your home with a consultant to get more details. That costs €49.50, compared to the hundreds of euros many would have normally already spent at the start of the journey.

Renovate with confidence

The tool itself is free. It’s a pilot for the time being, but should ultimately become widely available.

"It really must be an independent platform," says ING’s Menno Lanting. “Other financial providers can also participate. And we put a lot of energy into guarantees and quality standards. Consumers must be able to trust that the advice is correct, that the contractor delivers quality and that they can go somewhere if something should happen. If something goes wrong, we ensure that it’s solved."

* adapted from this article in Dutch on ing.nl.

ING’s climate ambition is to steer our €600 billion loan book towards the well-below two-degree goal of the Paris Agreement. Almost half of that amount consists of mortgages, and homes generally account for 20% of CO2e emissions. So we’re on a mission to make homes in our portfolio more sustainable, helping homeowners become more aware and motivated to make improvements. This pilot will ultimately be launched more widely and will be an open platform so other users and providers can share their experience and expertise.

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