Purpose: Decarbonising the housing stock is one of the largest challenges in the built environment today, which is getting the attention not only from policymakers but also from social housing corporations, financial organisations and users. 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 goals, both the rate and depth of renovation need to increase. Several technical solutions to eliminate the energy demand in dwelling have been developed and tested. Nevertheless, the intake rate of deep retrofitting is low. Despite recent developments, there are still significant barriers related to financing, lack of information and user acceptance. To address those barriers, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between energy efficiency upgrades and the cost of living. Design/methodology/approach: Focusing on walk-up apartments in the Netherlands, a framework of refurbishment measures that affect the energy efficiency was identified, and their performance was calculated. Furthermore, the rental price adjustment was estimated, taking into account the refurbishment investment and the exploitation cost of the renovated dwellings. Findings: The comparison of the energy use and rental price for the different options demonstrated how the different renovation measures affect the energy cost, the energy use, rent and cost of living. The tenants are more likely to accept the solutions that take into account the total cost of living and sustainability benefits. The study gives a holistic standpoint to the issue of energy upgrades, by quantifying the effect of the potential measures for the whole exploitation period. It has shown the potential of the different interventions to improve the performance and living conditions, without necessarily increasing the total cost of living. Practical implications: Such results aim at supporting the decision making between the stakeholders, primarily housing associations and tenants. Originality/value: The importance of the study is that it gives a holistic standpoint to the issue of energy upgrades, by quantifying the effect of the potential measures for the whole exploitation period. The cost, as a key, if not the more most decisive, issue, is put into perspective in relation to the benefit, in order to give a direction to the renovation design and arguments for the stakeholders’ dialogue. The approach of the study goes beyond cost-optimality of measures and investigated the relation between energy upgrades and cost, as a way to evaluate design variation and address the lack of information barrier in renovations. Moreover, it also proves that deep renovation is feasible without increasing in the total cost of living, which is a principal argument to promote renovations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSmart and Sustainable Built Environment
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Dec 2019

    Research areas

  • Decision making, Energy efficiency, Renovation, Residential buildings, Total cost of living, Transformation framework

ID: 68778043