Building on the 'one-stop shop' concept, the EU-funded REFURB project has worked to create the right conditions for convincing homeowners to decide in favour of deep energy retrofits and to remain committed during the entire process. Key features included bespoke home renovation packages for specific markets and personal 'renovation coaches' to assist house owners during the process. "The process of investing in deep energy refurbishment is called the 'customer journey'. Giving up on this journey is common, as house owners run into many barriers," says Virginia Gómez Oñate, Project Manager of VITO NV in Belgium. These barriers usually relate to unclear financial and environmental benefits. If house owners do not have access to all the necessary information, they can get lost along the way towards a future-proof dream home and lose interest in investing in house renovation. “The customer journey concept is pivotal in understanding how house owners act when involved in a renovation process,” adds Gómez Oñate. REFURB addressed the complex interplay between the house owners on the demand side and the businesses on the supply side of zero-energy renovation. Promoting a one-stop shop There is a real need for additional tools to support and provide guidance to home owners during the whole renovation process. REFURB aimed to bridge this gap with a one-stop shop solution that could be replicated across Europe. “Our ambition was to remove the burden for house owners from having to turn to a whole raft of contracting parties and bodies,” explains Gómez Oñate. The single point of contact seeks to build a high level of trust with the customer throughout the entire customer journey towards a near-zero energy home renovation. In this context, a renovation coach can play an important role: having an understanding of the technical side of the available solutions, while possessing the necessary soft skills to build a trusting relationship with homeowners. "Understanding the key drivers and barriers in each country is pivotal in encouraging house owners to invest in deep energy refurbishment," comments Gómez Oñate. Project partners developed and tested 10 customisable renovation packages for 6 European countries, to ensure that they meet local demands and can be accommodated by local suppliers. Speaking the same language Using non-technical language, these different compelling renovation offers determined the success of the one-stop shops in each country. The design of each country-specific offer was based on a match between the house owners' concerns and the available technologies tailored to the type and state of the dwelling. Selected customer segments included young families, post-war suburbs with detached houses, terraced houses with a high energy bill, convinced energy savers and owners of multi-apartment dwellings. "The My Energy Compass online tool is designed to empower house owners to start their customer journey and nudge them to also follow the other essential steps for the successful completion of their house renovation," explains Gómez Oñate. Although the tool is tailor-made for Belgium, its design and concept can inspire similar attempts in other European regions. The goal of REFURB was to provide house owners with a compelling offer — a renovation package offered by a one-stop shop that will make energy renovation easy for them. "We need to understand the house owner: People do not start a renovation just because they want a certain cost reduction on their energy bill, but because they want more comfort," concludes Dominiek Vandewiele from Intercommunale Leiedal, a project partner based in Belgium.
REFURB, house owners, energy renovation, energy refurbishment, renovation package, customer journey, zero-energy buildings