RMI’s REALIZE project--part of the Residential Energy+ initiative--aims to bring the clean industrial revolution to America’s homes by catalyzing the development of a speedy and scalable process for zero-carbon residential energy retrofits.
Existing residential buildings as they account for 20% of U.S. primary energy consumption. To prevent runaway climate change, our existing homes needs to become carbon neutral over the next few decades. This can be accomplished with deep energy retrofits combined with clean energy supply. But only a tiny fraction of homes have been retrofitted. A root cause of the low rate of adoption is the disaggregation of both the supply side and demand side, with no entity demanding or selling energy efficiency at scale. This means every retrofit is a custom job, resulting in greater time, complexity, and cost.
In The Netherlands, Energiesprong created a new approach to residential energy retrofits: retrofitting housing units in large numbers to zero carbon performance levels with no upfront capital cost to owners. They have executed more than 6,000 residential ZNE retrofits with an additional 100,000 in hard commitments--primarily in affordable housing. We have the opportunity to build on Energiesprong’s success abroad by replicating key components of this model in the U.S.
REALIZE will work with partners to develop a business model for high volume of zero-carbon retrofits in San Francisco as a pilot project, with an eye to expand this model to additional markets. We will achieve this by:
- Driving demand by focusing first on affordable housing to generate volume, and identifying additional market segments that can be aggregated throughout the San Francisco metro area
- Addressing supply by convening manufacturers, building science experts, and contractors to design a market-ready industrialized approach to zero carbon retrofits
- Priming the market by working with the financial industry to identify funding solutions that support the model