RINNO Expertise in European Thermo-Modernisation to Lead the Polish Renovation Wave

RINNO Expertise in European Thermo-Modernisation to Lead the Polish Renovation Wave

RINNO partner, NAPE, boasts over 25 years of experience in energy consulting, popularising efficient and rational energy usage, above all in the building sector, and the principles of sustainable development.. Their knowledge in the field will lead renovation works at RINNO’s Polish demo site. Read on to find out which technical and environmentally-friendly solutions are being implemented to improve thermal comfort and reduce heating costs for building occupants.

Where is the Polish RINNO pilot site?

The Polish demo site is located in the Jabłonna Commune just outside of Warsaw. It is a multifamily housing structure owned by the commune and is currently equipped with individual gas stoves and built without wall isolation. There are over 300,000 similar multi-family buildings within the EU, of which only 30-40% are renovated. 

Model and Actual Depiction of the Polish RINNO Pilot Site

The pilot building was erected in the late 1940s as a traditional solid brick construction in which five families currently reside. Apart from window and roofing replacements, the building has never undergone thorough thermal modernisation or any significant form of renovation. 

What is thermo-modernisation?

Thermo-modernisation, also known as energy-efficient retrofitting or energy renovation, is the renovation of buildings with weak thermal protection to improve their energy efficiency and reduce associated costs. This can involve various measures, such as installing insulation, replacing outdated heating and cooling systems, and integrating renewable energy sources. 

Until 2021, the Polish RINNO pilot site used coal-fired boilers. While these boilers were recently connected to a gas network, energy efficiency is still low and costs remain high. Consequently, the Polish RINNO site is a suitable test-centre for the project’s thermo-modernisation interventions. 

Stakeholder Analysis For Collaborative Deep Renovation

As part of an extensive, data-driven technical evaluation of the Polish pilot site, NAPE analysed stakeholder (owners, tenants etc.) and market needs to provide optimised scenarios for all involved parties. This exercise defined opportunities and challenges against the framework of the Nearly Zero Emissions Building (NZEB) renovation process. Based on this analysis, several variants of the building’s thermal modernisation were explored. The following lists the most technically and economically viable solutions that have been selected to form the core of RINNO’s deep renovation efforts: 

  • Insulating the attics with a layer of cellulose wool, 
  • Insulating the exterior walls of the building with a layer of polystyrene foam, 
  • Replacing windows and external doors with new, high thermally insulated ones,
  • Insulating the ceiling in the basement with a polyurethane mat, 
  • Adding a photovoltaic installation mounted on the southern facade and part of the building’s roof. 

These methods aim to lower costs while simultaneously increasing energy efficiency, and bring about a variety of environmental, social, and financial  benefits. 

Environmental Impact

When looking at the 50 most polluted cities in the EU, 36 of them are in Poland.  Air pollution in Poland is a serious issue that affects the country’s population on both a long-term and daily basis. This pollution has led to increased respiratory issues and hospitalisation. Thermo-modernisation efforts in Poland aim to improve air quality by reducing the amount of harmful substances in the air that cause such health issues. 

RINNO’s Polish pilot site will apply cellulose filling as the material selected for its insulation. Waste newspaper is used for the production of cellulose wool, meaning that this product re-uses resources and follows circular economy principles. Cellulose wool has a negative carbon footprint and its application supports the overall project aim of enabling sustainable deep renovation practices. Overall, the RINNO pilot site in Poland will show: 

  • Yearly life cycle global warming potential savings of 19,901 kg CO2/year  
  • Primary energy savings of 155,263 kWh/year
  • Yearly life cycle cost savings of €3,880.98/year


Social Impact

One of the most notable social benefits of thermo-modernization is an improvement in occupants’ living conditions. Upgraded insulation and efficient heating systems lead to better temperature regulation and thermal comfort, creating healthier and more comfortable indoor environments. This is particularly important for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children, and individuals with limited resources, as they are often disproportionately affected by energy poverty exacerbated by energy inefficient dwellings. Energy poverty is defined as the lack of essential energy services for individuals and leads to poor living conditions. It has been reported that 34% of Poles are considered energy poor. Thermo-modernisation helps alleviate the issue of energy poverty, reducing the risk of health problems related to cold or damp living conditions.

Within RINNO’s context, the social impact of renovation works is particularly palpable as building occupants are of low-income backgrounds or are partially retired, unemployed, or unable to work due to health conditions. Decreasing the energy costs is an important issue for the inhabitants of the building as well as the owner – Commune Jabłonna. According to data from 2021, there are over 66 thousand social apartments in Poland owned by local governments. The RINNO pilot site therefore serves as an example of how to lower costs of living in similar social housing situations.

In taking a closer look at the current situation in Poland, in particular with regard to its modernisation needs, RINNO finds that its activities are insufficient in supporting existing social resources. Technical conditions are at a much lower level than in Western countries. Using the experience of other countries in this field, as well as innovative technologies and financial instruments, enables a better indication of the overall directions needed to bring about improvement in the energy efficiency of social housing in Poland.

Financial Impact

Currently, renovation works at the Polish RINNO pilot site are in the planning phase and will likely commence in the autumn of 2023. Results will be evaluated in order to promote the replication of developed solutions within Poland and the EU. The potential for replication in Poland is key to the project and the Jabłonna Commune aims to lead by example.  Unfortunately, such innovative deep renovation approaches are not yet widely promoted and used by local Polish authorities, underlying the importance of EU projects such as RINNO. 

Additional Reading

Read our blog post on Passive House requirements and EU NZEB building goals for more information on the requirements this building must fulfil after the completion of its renovation.

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