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Façade Leasing: deep retrofit with a competitive price tag

6 October 2017

Implementing high-quality retrofit solutions was often financially unattractive, turning widespread city refurbishments into a long-term ambition. But, with the ground breaking project Façade Leasing from TU Delft, this may very well belong to the past. 

Façade Leasing offers the best of both worlds: an innovative façade technology that reduces energy consumption by up to 80%, combined with a price tag that matches regular (‘low cost’) alternatives. It allows building owners to opt for a high-quality technology whilst even saving money in the long run compared to the standard choices. It is actively supported by a network of partners from industry and knowledge institutions. Aside from TU Delft and Climate-KIC, project initiators that have made this innovation possible include VMRG (the Dutch metal façade association) and AluEco (foundation for façade sustainability research), who coordinate the business model supply chain.

Redefining the financial and legal framework

Even though energy reductions of up to 80% are within range, the most innovative element of Façade Leasing is probably the financial aspect: leasing instead of buying a technology. Over a time frame of 10- 25 years, the building owner pays a reasonable monthly fee to the façade owner, covering installation, maintenance and any interim adjustments on the indoor climate. This fee is balanced against the expenses the building owner would otherwise have to pay anyway, such as higher energy expenses and repairs. At the end of the line, the costs are even lower than with a regular (‘cheap at the start’) alternative. A no-brainer without doubt!

Juan Azcárate-Aguerre, part of the research team at TU Delft, explains: ‘When choosing a retrofit technology that is predominantly based on low costs at the installation phase, a building owner would miss out on the huge benefits that a high-quality solution offers in reducing energy costs, improving indoor comfort, employee wellbeing, health and productivity, and material quality (i.e. avoiding costly interim repairs). Basically, Façade Leasing saves money in the long run and provides a high degree of performance straight away.’

Freeing up space and resources

As it is an integrated façade, building systems can be incorporated, including ventilation, PV panels, energy storage, heating, cooling and so on. Juan: ‘As every façade is tailor-made, it can be delivered in a number of variations, depending on the preferences of the client and the requirements of the building.’

Importantly, when the building systems are transferred into the skin of the building, often a lot of space from floors, ceilings and walls can be freed up. From a commercial point of view, this could imply a significant gain in rentable area and income. 

There is also a very practical advantage: by integrating different functionalities within the façade, there is a single point of contact for all indoor climate factors (heating, cooling, ventilation and so on). Occupants do not need to be disrupted in accessing these. It makes fine-tuning an easy task, offering a huge financial and time advantage in terms of maintenance, comfort adjustments and repairs.

Although Façade Leasing can be used for residential properties as well, office buildings are – at least for now – probably a more logical choice as investments in this area are often higher and more technologies and services are required.

Systemically changing the construction industry

The concept of leasing a façade may create a systemic change in deep retrofitting, possibly even affecting the construction world in a wider sense. Being less dependent on market fluctuations and on constantly having to acquire new projects, emphasis lies instead on a long-term relation between the client and the maintenance and service provider. Façade companies become less vulnerable as they move away from short-cycle projects. The circularity of building components is supported, by giving the component manufacturers (i.e. windows, frames etc.) of the façade the economic incentives to reuse materials and products as much as possible.

Sybren Steensma, Programme Manager of Climate-KIC’s BTA: ‘Façade Leasing is exactly the type of innovation that could make the difference in city refurbishment. It embodies a whole new way of thinking and lowers the barriers for large-scale deep retrofitting. We are keen to follow and support any further developments of this promising concept.’

Where you can already find Façade Leasing

A prototype of the Façade Leasing concept has been already installed at the EWI building on the TU Delft campus. As a result of the excellent performance, the research team and industry partners are currently exploring a large upscaling project to be implemented in 2018. 

Interested in Façade Leasing to retrofit your building?

Please get in touch to explore what opportunities there may be for your building to use this innovative concept!

Juan Azcárate-Aguerre

Façade Leasing Research Team

+31 (0) 618 99 8904

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