Upgrading smartness of existing buildings through innovations for legacy equipment

An essential part of Europe's clean energy transition is the changing role of buildings from energy consumers to actively controlling and optimising indoor environment while contributing to energy system flexibility by ensuring distributed energy generation from renewable energy sources, energy storage, facilitate smart charging of EVs, load reduction through energy efficiency and load shifting through demand response. Innovative technologies will enable smart buildings to interact with their occupants and the grid in real time and to manage themselves efficiently, so as to become an active element of the energy system. Intelligent and connected devices, sensors and controllers, supported by the development of new business models for new energy services, will create new opportunities for energy consumers.

Today in the EU, the existing building stock represents the main challenge for a more efficient energy use, in buildings as well as across the whole energy system. The smart readiness of buildings may evolve faster for devices and systems easily replaced and installed, than for other parts of the building's equipment such as HVAC and DHW systems etc. due to higher costs of replacement, longer lifecycles and difficulties related to the integration in buildings. This installed equipment remains highly relevant for buildings interactions with the energy system, making its upgrade to higher levels of smartness an essential step.


Proposals should develop and demonstrate cost-effective technological solutions to manage energy within existing buildings and interact with the grid providing energy efficiency, flexibility, generation and storage, based on user preferences and requests. These solutions should be aimed to upgrade existing buildings, either residential or tertiary, using automation and IT to offer new services and control to the building users, thereby improving their comfort and increasing their satisfaction.

Proposals should demonstrate how the smart systems, smart controls and smart appliances can be integrated seamlessly in existing buildings to interface and/or to control the major energy consuming domestic appliances that are already installed. These pilots should involve several types of domestic appliances and technical building systems with longer lifecycles (boilers, radiators, DHW preparation, motors for ventilation, windows opening and shading; lighting etc.) and with shorter lifecycles (dryers, washing machines, fridges, etc.), testing several types of control modes (ON/OFF, power modulation, etc.) possible for a given type of appliance. Recharging points for electric vehicles and other forms of energy storage should also be incorporated in the pilots. The proposed solutions should not adversely affect the original functionalities, product quality, lifetime, as well as warranties of the appliances.

Proposals are expected to include clear business model development and a clear path to finance and deployment. Key partners should have the capability and interest in making the developed solution a core part of their business/service model to their clients.

Besides the pilot demonstrations, proposals should outline business models and strategies for the broad uptake of the proposed smart systems into specific building typologies in Europe and their integration with evolving electricity markets, e.g. dynamic pricing or other services and information offered by energy suppliers and/or aggregators. Integrations with other energy networks (e.g. DHC) can also be considered.

The solutions should focus on cost-effectiveness, interoperability and user-friendliness: easy installation and maintenance, maximising consumer comfort (e.g. self-learning) and information on own consumption (e.g. recommendations to the user in order to maximise savings) as well as on gains from its contribution to grid operation.

A realistic estimate should be provided on the total energy savings/year and on the impact of the innovations demonstrated in the project on the total power available for cost effective demand response actions. The projects should involve technology providers (e.g. manufacturers of appliances, movable envelope components, smart control/ home systems providers), energy services providers (aggregators and/or suppliers and/or ESCO's), user representatives, electricity system operators and other actors as relevant.

The activities are expected to be implemented at TRL 6-8 (please see part G of the General Annexes).

The Commission considers the proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between 3 to 4 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

This topic contributes to the roadmap of the Energy-efficient Buildings (EeB) cPPP.

Expected Impact

Proposals are expected to demonstrate the impacts listed below using quantified indicators and targets wherever possible:

  • Primary Energy savings triggered by the project (in GWh/year);
  • Investments in sustainable energy triggered by the project (in million Euro);
  • Upgrade of existing buildings to higher smartness levels, including a significantly enlarged base of existing building equipment and appliances monitored by energy management systems and activated through demand response actions;
  • Reduction in energy consumption and costs, exceeding the additional consumption from IT and its cost.

Additional positive effects can be quantified and reported when relevant and wherever possible:

  • Reduction of the greenhouse gases emissions (in tCO2-eq/year) and/or air pollutants (in kg/year) triggered by the project.

Delegation Exception Footnote

It is expected that this topic will continue in 2020.

Cross-cutting Priorities

  • Socio-economic science and humanities
  • Clean Energy
  • Contractual Public-Private Partnerships (cPPPs)
  • EeB
  • Open Innovation
  • RRI
Application date
Social sciences : Management and Public administration, Economy