Review of Dutch energy saving covenant for social dwellings
The update of the Energy Saving Convenant for the rental sector has introduced a clearer objective for saving energy in social dwellings owned by Dutch social housing organisations. Also it improves the measurability of the objective. The Dutch Minister of the Interior together with Aedes (Dutch association of housing organisations), Woonbond (Dutch tenants union) and Vastgoed Belang (Dutch association of real estate investors) have signed this updated covenant last June. The efforts of the signatories will lead to a better environment, better housing quality for tenants and value development of dwellings.
The first Covenant which became effective in 2008, has already generated clear results. It lead to the introduction of the energy labels as one of the parameters of the regulated rents in social housing. So after energy-measure landlords have some room to raise rents to repay for the investments. At the same time, to get the needed approval of their tenants, housing associations are required to prove that total housing costs (energy + rent) will not increase after the investment. This so-called ‘housing costs guarantee’ has been an important feature to overcome the split-incentive dilemma between social landlords and tenants.
A monitoring in 2011 showed that only in the first six months more than 110,000 housing organisations’ dwellings had undergone energy saving measures. This resulted in a 2% saving on total gas consumption in the 2.4 million housing stock.
With the renewed Covenant it is possible for the rental sector to increase the pace of investments in energy efficiency even further. There is more attention for sustainable energy, such as the application of photovoltaics, and for apartment buildings with both tenants and owners. The government will work on the promotion of a collective introduction of sustainable energy by removing legal, financial and tax barriers as soon as possible. In addition, the parties will develop a vision to end the lowest energy labels in the housing stock.
Energy saving of 33 per cent
The social housing organisations wants to achieve energy savings of 33 per cent in their 2.4 million social dwellings between 2008 and 2020. If they succeed then in 2021 housing associations will have a stock labelled with B on average. This is the objective of the Covenant. `It definitely remains a heavy task’ according to Wim Hazeu, who signed the covenant as board member on behalf of Aedes. `Also because the investment capacity of corporations has been under pressure recently. But investments in energy saving and sustainability raise the housing quality for tenants, reduce energy costs and are good for the environment. Moreover it helps the development of the stock value. And so, everyone finds there are advantages’ says Mr. Hazeu.
Aedes is the national association promoting the interests of practically every social housing organisation in the Netherlands. Members of Aedes manage 2.4 million dwellings. As a network organisation, knowledge centre and think tank, Aedes provides a platform for almost 400 members to meet, exchange ideas and develop visions. Together with its members, the association works on research and product development to meet the needs of housing consumers. Aedes co-operates with the government, political parties and special interest groups in order to get the right working conditions for social housing organisations to effectively fulfil their social function. Aedes participates in CECODHAS Housing Europe in order to promote the interests of social housing organisations in Europe.