Invented there, useful here

28 Sep 2018


Diedert Debusscher, European Copper Institute


Juriaan van Tilburg, Ecofys (A Navigant Company)


An energy efficiency toolbox would facilitate experience sharing on implementation of the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive article 7.
In their current form, Energy Efficiency Obligation Schemes (EEOS) do not get the most of their significant potential. To do so, their scope of application should be widened to include measures in all energy using sectors and include some of the potentially more advanced energy saving measures that offer significant savings potentials, including: building automation and control systems (BACS[1]), heat pumps, electric vehicles, and district heating. Different stakeholders from many Member States of the European Union (EU) responded enthusiastically to the idea of establishing a knowledge base on cost-effective standardised energy saving measures. The ‘toolbox’ would support Member States by facilitating the exchange of experiences and best practices, and, unlike technical standardisation initiatives, leave Member States the room for tailoring to specific country requirements.

Key driver for energy efficiency

Article 7 of the Energy Efficiency Directive aims at new final energy savings. The high potential of Energy Efficiency Obligation schemes (EEOS) under this article (called “Energy Savings Obligation” in the European Commission’s Clean Energy Package) to help achieve the EU’s energy efficiency target is widely recognised. Analysis of the submitted national energy efficiency action plans of EU Member States reveals that 40% of the envisaged energy savings in the EU will be achieved through EEO schemes.[2] EEOSs are highly cost effective and substantially reduce energy consumption and bills, thereby delivering benefits to consumers who would otherwise be more exposed to volatile energy prices. EEOSs also deliver substantial, measurable savings across energy systems and to society as a whole, which include: health benefits, increased comfort, economic stimulus, employment creation, cost savings in transmission and distribution, avoided CO2 allowance costs, and air quality improvements.[3] However, improved evaluation protocols, measurement methods and pooling of expertise could further strengthen the mechanism and obtain even larger savings potential for Europe in the short and long terms (Fig.1).

Figure 1 - The study identified 4 underutilised measures with large EU wide energy savings potential (Source: Ecofys, 2018).

Vast untapped potential

Many implemented measures are not standardised and therefore less known and more difficult to implement.[4] This specifically applies to more advanced energy saving measures that offer significant savings, good examples of which are building automation and control systems (BACS), energy management, sustainable heating and cooling systems and electromobility solutions (Fig.2). As an example, a study conducted by Ecofys estimates that all EU Member States systematically underestimate the saving potential of heat pumps and therefore unintendedly promote gas-based energy efficiency measures. A similar situation applies to electric vehicles: deemed savings calculations seem to underestimate their savings by 50% due to the use of standard test results and short lifetimes.

Figure 2 - Heat pumps, Electric Vehicles, BACS, and District Heating do not or only partially appear in the standard measure list of the 5 investigated EU countries (Source: Ecofys, 2018). 

Pooling expertise in a user-friendly toolbox

The implementation of Article 7 is quite complex, and some EU Member States face increasing problems with implementation and measurement & verification (M&V). Evaluation protocols of different national EEOSs do not necessarily have the same calculation and measurement methods. Most countries have learned throughout the years to develop and improve their evaluation protocols, but there is not (yet) a more standardised European approach. Such an approach could take advantage of pooling of expertise, knowledge and practical energy efficiency measures (and the verification of obtained savings).

Of course, the situation in each Member State is different. Any rigid technical standardisation or harmonisation initiative would be a pointless undertaking. However, during a workshop on this topic run by the European Copper Institute (ECI) in Brussels in May 2018, many stakeholders expressed their interest in the establishment of a knowledge base on cost-effective, standardised energy saving measures. They welcomed the idea of an initiative that could facilitate the exchange of experiences and best practices. Such a knowledge base could take the form of a user-friendly and open-source “toolbox”, providing calculation methodologies and simplified M&V protocols with a reasonable degree of certainty and comparability of the target achievements. Obligated parties with access to the toolbox could obtain assessments of the cost-effectiveness of standardised measures.

Although existing databases (such as the DEEP[5]) should be included where appropriate, the focus should be on currently under-utilised measures with high savings potential. The toolbox should provide solutions to the implementation barriers many of these measures experience. Another application could be to improve the common understanding around key parameters such as lifecycles and baseline performance of devices or material. Member States could consult objective, scientifically based technical numbers as a benchmark, and adopt adjusted numbers to match their national policy objectives. The toolbox would also provide an opportunity to widen the scope of EEOSs towards industry, commercial, and transport - sectors that are often overlooked in typically building-focused standardised lists.

Multi-governance and bottom-up

ECI, as the initiator of the idea, is currently convening a task force to take the idea of a toolbox one step further. Key to the approach will be the buy-in from not only public authorities but also from chambers of commerce, industry networks, large obliged parties, and large energy efficiency suppliers. Private actors will also be involved: there is nothing to prohibit an actor like district heating, building automation, heat pumps or underfloor heating setting up their own energy saving formula/scheme and promoting it to authorities as an energy saving mechanism. A toolbox setup could include independent reviews of the formula/scheme to provide objectivity.


Diedert Debusscher (MSc) is project manager at the Energy & Climate programme of the European Copper Institute (ECI). His focus areas are energy efficiency, energy management and smart buildings. He also supports the communication activities for the #DecarbEurope campaign (decarbeurope.org) and the Leonardo ENERGY initiative (leonardo-energy.org). Both communities are managed by the European Copper Institute, in close cooperation with its international partners. Diedert holds a MSc in Bioengineering, Environmental Technology, and specialised in communication and business marketing.



Juriaan van Tilburg (PhD) is managing consultant at Ecofys/Navigant. Juriaan has a broad experience in managing complex projects and strategic decision making on topics related to our future energy system. At Ecofys, Juriaan focuses on the energy transition and the impact on the built environment, infrastructure and industries. Juriaan managed several projects on future district heating systems and feasibility studies for innovative hydrogen and carbon capture and storage for utilities, industries and governments. Juriaan holds a PhD in Quantum Nanoscience and a Masters in Physics.





[1] According to EN ISO 16484-2, BACS refers to “Building Automation and Control Systems comprising all products and engineering services for automatic controls (including interlocks), monitoring, optimization, for operation, human intervention and management to achieve energy–efficient, economical and safe operation of building services. Controls herein do also refer to processing of data and information”. Therefore, BACS cover a wide range of heterogeneous products.

[2] Rosenow J. et al. (2015). Study evaluating the national policy measures and methodologies to implement Article 7 of the Energy Efficiency Directive.

[3] Rosenow, J. and Bayer, E. (2016). Costs and benefits of Energy Efficiency Obligation Schemes. Retrieved from http://www.raponline.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/rap-rosenow-bayer-costs-benefits-energy-efficiency-obligation-schemes-2016.pdf

[4] Ecofys - A Navigant Company. (2018). Evaluation protocols for energy efficiency measures to boost further uptake. In-depth analysis of building related measures and discussion on advanced M&V. Retrieved from http://www.leonardo-energy.org/resources/1395/

[5] EU De-risking Energy Efficiency Platform.