Berlin start-up will wrap homes in a ‘second skin’ as heating costs soar

BOCHUM (Germany), Nov 15 (Reuters) – A Berlin-based start-up is to renovate apartment buildings in the German town of Bochum, giving them a bespoke wooden “second skin” to make them more energy efficient. energy.

Ecoworks’ project reflects the growing demand for climate-friendly and energy-efficient renovations in response to Germany’s energy crisis which has caused heating costs to soar.

Before the crisis, landlords viewed renovations to make residential buildings more energy efficient as a benefit rather than essential in a sector that fell short of its CO2 targets in Germany last year.

Now that is changing due to rising energy prices and a new law that splits a CO2 tax between tenants and landlords based on building efficiency.

“In this property, around 70 to 80 percent of energy costs are saved,” Emanuel Heisenberg, CEO of Ecoworks, told Reuters, referring to apartment buildings in Bochum.

Buildings account for 35% of total energy consumption in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, where almost a third of its 19.25 million residential buildings have the lowest and lowest energy ratings. energy efficiency, according to a study by the GdW association for housing and real estate. February.

A spike in interest rates, rising energy and commodity prices as well as ever-changing subsidies are limiting investment, GdW spokesman Andreas Schichel told Reuters.

A shortage of construction workers and lengthy renovation processes are additional hurdles that make homeowners reluctant to undertake such projects.

The Heisenberg-based company is trying to overcome these obstacles by designing climate-neutral prefabricated facades with a technology that requires about a third of the time and half the labor.

“Normally, such projects take 6 to 9 months. In our case, it takes 15 weeks,” Heisenberg said.

By using cellulose for insulation and wood for exterior facades, the company claims that its renovations are CO2 neutral.

“You can’t tear down all the houses and rebuild them with cement with steel. That’s just way over our carbon budget. So you have to build with renewable materials like wood,” Heisenberg said. .

Reporting by Riham Alkousaa, Petra Wischgoll and Stéphane Nitschke. Editing by Jane Merriman

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