New plan to offer cheap loans for green home improvements in Switzerland

New plan to offer cheap loans for green home improvements in Switzerland

A new trial in Canton Bern has been set up, allowing private companies to subsidise building improvements in order to make housing more environmentally friendly. The new plan hopes to create a series of loans to help subside the necessary improvements, which can be highly expensive for families.

Switzerland struggling to achieve net-zero goals

According to the Tages-Anzeiger, housing in Switzerland accounts for a quarter of CO2 emissions in the country. Unfortunately, to make a house more environmentally friendly by renovating utilities or improving insulation, costs can go into the thousands. 

This is an issue, for if Switzerland wants to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, it will have to speed up renovations on houses and apartments. Currently, only 1 percent of houses are made environmentally friendly each year, which means the process would only be complete by around 2100.

High cost of housing renovations puts owners off green tech

The problem of cost arises when renovations have to be made before environmental improvements can be installed. For example, a person may want to instal solar panels on their roof to be more environmentally friendly, using a government or cantonal subsidy to pay for them in part. However, for the solar panels to be installed, their roof may have to be improved, renovated or repaired, which is a cost that is not subsidised by the government and can cost up to 150.000 Swiss francs.

Instead of relying on current government subsidies, Swisscleantech has proposed a new form of loan to modernise buildings, given out by Swiss banks and insurance providers. This would cover the cost of necessary maintenance work - often the most costly part of installing green tech - while homeowners pay off the bill as they would a mortgage.

The company sees its solution as a supplement to current government programmes, instead of replacing them altogether. They also noted that the state would still have to guarantee the loans, as many lenders would see the investment as incredibly high risk.

Housing loan idea to be trialled in Bern

The new idea is set to be trialled in the city of Bern from the end of May, according to Head of the Directorate for Safety, Environment and Energy, Adrian Stiefel. He said that the idea “can be an important supplementary tool to achieve the necessary increase in the building renovation rate,” but wanted to see how it would work in practice.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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