In 2013 the Global Buildings Performance Network dug into the question of what should we call the super-low energy retrofit or renovations we need to carry out on our existing building stock in the Western World. GBPN knew North Americans favoured 'deep retrofit' and Europeans 'deep renovation' but was it just a name change or were there other definable differences? The conclusions can be downloaded here. (https://tinyurl.com/gvlf9ed).
They gathered 23 experts. Almost 80% of the respondents work in the EU and 40% in the US, however 25% were active in more than one area (including China, Europe, India, Latin America, South East Asia and USA). GBPN also accessed an expert reference group including Ireland's Adrian Joyce (representing Renovate Europe).Interestingly North American experts focused mostly on services efficiencies and Europeans on building fabric efficiencies. It makes some sense then that most of the North Americans included plug loads while the Europeans didn't. (Plug loads are the energy consumed by desk lamps, fridges, TVs, consumer goods etc. - a proportionately increasing category).
However even the level of efficiencies desired differed. The experts and other representative industry groups in each region were broadly in agreement with their ruling bodies. On 30th July 2012 the European Parliament proposed that 'deep renovation means a refurbishment that reduces both the delivered and the final energy consumption of a building by at least 80% compared with the pre-renovation levels.' In contrast 'The US Department Of Energy (DOE) ... has designed “Advanced Energy Retrofit Guides” (AERGs) for existing buildings in order to assist building stakeholders in the selection of energy efficiency improvements. Within these guides they claim "deep retrofits can reduce a building’s energy use by over 50%"'.
Accurate use of terminology supports careful use of standards and genuine achievement of energy targets, so it does make sense that in Ireland we who currently talk about 'deep retrofit' should shift to the more accurate and policy-aligned phrase of 'deep renovation'. The fact that the 'National Renovation Strategy V.2', launched in February 2017, is so named (https://www.igbc.ie/projects/buildupon/) may help remind us!