K – A – W, behind these three letters stand the 75 employees – divided across four offices in the cities of Groningen, Rotterdam, Eindhoven and Barcelona – of the, ‘Co-operative Architectural Workshop’, in Dutch Koöperatieve Architecten Werkplaats. Since its foundation 42 years ago in the Dutch city of Groningen, the multidisciplinary advisory bureau has become an innovative and experienced player on the Dutch energy efficiency renovation market.
KAW is a forerunner thanks to its holistic approach to energy efficiency refurbishments and though its experience of setting up different innovative services across several Dutch cities and regions. The Dutch national government, in efforts to attain its goal of an annual 1.5% increase in energy efficiency until 2020, partnered with KAW in 2012 to set up the first Energy Support Desk of the Netherlands for private homeowners. More than 100 municipalities currently use the KAW Energy Desk Support.
In 2014, KAW launched a One-Stop-Shop service in Groningen offering energy efficiency refurbishments for single family housing. Through the creation of ‘Reimarkt’ shops in 6 Dutch cities (Groningen, Enschede, Delft, Zoetermeer, Den Bosch, and Hoogeveen), homeowners can simply pop by and leave with a comprehensive ready-made refurbishment package comprised of advisory, financing support services and installation. The products offered are tailored to different housing types with an emphasis on fixed prices, installation times and guarantees, in order to provide trustworthy services to the customers. Since 2014, Reimarkts have refurbished more than 2000 houses in the Netherlands.
Through the INNOVATE project KAW wants to expand their Reimarkt concept to condominiums in the Netherlands, which as a market differs significantly from individual housing. The specific characteristics of condominiums pose a number of challenges, which will be addressed in the KAW services developed under INNOVATE.
Firstly, the organization of decision making in condominiums is complex because of the number of residents involved and the question of ownership (joint or individual), and slow as meetings only take place every half a year.
Secondly, the opportunities offered by the refurbishment, as well as financing options and possible changes induced by the renovation have to be advertised and made understandable for all owners, as a few apartment owners can block joined investments.
Thirdly, the split incentive problem, meaning that even if possibilities exist to compensate for energy efficiency investments by raising rent costs, apartment owners may remain reluctant to accept the hassle it implies.
Finally, finance is complicated, as it must be divided between apartments with different financial situations. Therefore, even when financing possibilities exist, the process leading towards loans is more complicated and may not be grasped.
To overcome these barriers, KAW is developing specific information and marketing materials for each owner or user type, which accounts for the complexity of actors present in the condominium. The service package provided will therefore strongly focus on support in decision making – helping owners identify the most pressing priorities and most fitting products for their specific situation. Other important components are orientation and support in applying for financing, and the coordination of the works and aftersales.
In addition to close engagement with the customers, KAW also highlights the importance of investing into relationships with the different actors present on the renovation market, such as contractors and advisors. KAW wants to influence the mentality of the market, to shift the focus from projects counted in advice hours to products, meaning the actual selling of the renovation itself. Such an approach will benefit both sides of the bargain, by providing more comprehensible and cheaper services to the homeowners, while creating more revenues for the market players.
Key business partners
Municipalities, social housing corporations, local energy cooperations, installing companies, financing institutions, financial advisors, real estate brokers.
9701BM Groningen, the Netherlands
t: +31 88 – 529 00 00