So-called ‘insulating wallpaper’ on the inside walls, only three millimetres thick – that was about all in the way of insulation the end-of-terrace house in Kassel could offer Lars Prüssing when he bought it two years ago. In winter he could hardly keep the 1970s property warm; in summer, it quickly overheated. For the new owner, there was no doubt about it – the house must be refurbished from scratch to make it energy-efficient.
Prüssing approached the job systematically. He had the old, draughty windows replaced by triple-glazed ones, thick insulation installed on the façades and top floor ceiling, the cellar insulated and heat bridges removed. The reward for these efforts? When all these measures were finished, a family house more than forty years old was up to today’s efficiency standards. Prüssing is overjoyed. ‘The room climate is fantastic, our quality of life very high,’ he says.
Comparison: the terraced house before and after the energy-saving refurbishment
Experts for energy efficiency – for newbuilds und refurbishments
Comprehensive energy-efficient refurbishments – like energy-efficient newbuilds – are demanding tasks. So it’s no wonder that today’s builders and property owners are generally turning to the services provided by architects, engineers and skilled tradesmen who specialise in energy efficiency. It was the same for Prüssing, who commissioned the energy-efficiency expert Patric Schulz from Kassel to undertake the energy-efficient refurbishment of his house. Collaborating with his colleague Andrea Küllmer from Fuldatal, Schulz worked out a timetable for step-by-step refurbishment, which was implemented under the KfW funding programme ‘152 – energy-efficient refurbishment’. In this plan, planners and builders also attached great importance to the architectural design.
“If I’d tried to carry out the refurbishment planning under my own steam, I’d have been completely overstretched.”
Schulz planned and guided the entire process – everything from inventory analysis and structural physics to construction management and supervision. ‘If I’d tried to carry out the refurbishment planning under my own steam,’ says Prüssing, ‘I’d have been completely overstretched. As a non-expert, you really have no idea of what’s involved.’
Qualified experts like Küllmer and Schulz are the key to successful, energy-efficient building and refurbishment. That’s because, in the last analysis, even tiny inaccuracies in the planning or construction phases can result in failure to meet savings targets. Schulz gives an example from the refurbishment of Prüssing’s terraced house. ‘The façade builder wanted to fix the thermal insulation system with an aluminium end rail. But this would have produced a heat bridge, and that would have cancelled out some of the energy savings.’ After Schulz’ intervention, the builder replaced the aluminium rail he’d already fitted with a plastic one, so that the building component now complied with the generally recognised standards of the technology.
Energy saving: Database of Experts for Energy-Efficient Building and Refurbishment
“The qualifications required are very demanding. You really have to work hard to fulfil the requirements.”
But if you’re a builder or property owner, how can you find competent, experienced professionals? By using the ‘Database of Energy Efficiency Experts for Government Subsidy Programmes’: a database that enables builders to find experts in their area with accredited qualifications quickly and easily, by searching with postcode. At present, around 13,000 professionals from all across Germany are listed here.
Anyone who wants to get included in the database has to fulfil stringent requirements. For example, only experts who can prove that they are qualified in the areas of advice on energy or energy-efficient building and refurbishment are listed there. The database also guarantees that professionals are up to speed with the latest technology: every three years they must submit proof of further training and practical experience references in order to continue being listed in the database. ‘The qualifications required are very demanding. You really have to work hard to fulfil the requirements,’ explains architect Schulz. On top of this, the results of the professionals’ work are tested by random sample quality controls.
Funding from KfW and BAFA for qualified advice on energy only
The database was set up by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), the KfW Group, and the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA). The Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena) – German Energy Agency – has taken responsibility for coordinating it.
‘As part of the federal funding programme, the Database of Energy Efficiency Experts has created unified qualification standards for all Germany,’ says Rainer Baake, Undersecretary at the BMWi. As a result, the database is regarded today as a generally recognised seal of approval for efficiency experts. It gives builders and landlords who want to refurbish their properties reliable orientation when they’re deciding on a professional guide for their projects.
At the same time, it secures them access to Federal funds. For example, anyone who wants to take advantage of an on-site consulting session, or funds from the KfW programme ‘Energy-efficient building and refurbishment – residential buildings’, must choose a consultant with the appropriate qualifications listed in the database. ‘The expert database is a key component of the comprehensive quality assurance concept for KfW funding programmes,’ says KfW Director Detlev Kalischer. ‘It helps us ensure that the funds are used appropriately and professionally, and that the builder has also attained the desired level of energy-efficiency.
Expert database: vital customer acquisition tool for energy consultants
“The high bar for inclusion in the expert database has noticeably increased builders’ confidence in our expertise.”
Before the Database of Energy Efficiency Experts was introduced, builders had almost no means of assessing how competent a consultant actually was. The quality of service could vary considerably, both for advice on energy and for construction planning and guidance. ‘Formerly, because many consultants lacked expertise, our profession didn’t enjoy such a good reputation,’ remembers Schulz. Today it’s different. ‘The database has triggered a revolution in quality. The high bar for inclusion in the expert database has noticeably increased builders’ confidence in our expertise,’ says Andrea Küllmer, a qualified engineer for architecture.
Today the database receives about 52,000 search queries every month. For Schulz, it’s long been a valuable tool for expanding his customer base. ‘I’m benefiting from the database in terms of customer acquisition. The contacts are mostly high-quality – almost every enquiry leads to a contract,’ says the energy expert.
For Ms Küllmer, too, the database has a high value. ‘After many years as an employee, I recently became self-employed with my own office. The fact that the database enables me to demonstrate my competencies in different programmes is very useful here,’ she explains. And she’s convinced: ‘If you’re qualified, but still haven’t made a name for yourself and don’t have a customer base either, this tool better enables you to get a foothold in the market.’
Close exchange of ideas with experts for energy-efficient building and refurbishment
dena coordinates and manages the expert database – every entry and renewal takes place through them. Every day, dena’s professionals answer the efficiency experts’ questions, check their qualifications and process new applications. ‘We take our experience of direct contact with the experts away with us, so that we can continually expand our database in collaboration with the funding bodies and our network partners and make consumers and experts aware of it,’ says dena’s Managing Director Andreas Kuhlmann.