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"The timing of your energy consumption will become increasingly important in the future."

The core of the European AmBIENCe project is to bring together "Energy Performance Contracts (EPC)" and active energy management. In other words, reducing the emissions from our buildings as quickly as possible with a maximum amount of comfort, a low energy bill and attractive new services. The solution to this issue is being developed by the 8 partners of the AmBIENCe project in the form of a conceptual platform that will be tested in 2 test locations in Belgium and Portugal.

Nowadays the effort of decarbonizing the current building stock in the EU highly focuses on reducing our energy consumption. “As such, achieving the 2050 targets would mean that 97% of the current buildings would have to be thoroughly retrofitted [1]”, according to Chris Caerts, AmBIENCe project coordinator at VITO/EnergyVille. The current Energy Performance Contracts mostly focus on energy efficiency, for example saving energy by insulation, in which the investment costs for energy-saving measures are compensated by the annual energy cost saving. These contracts, however, usually don't take into account the timing of our energy use: “No matter how efficiently you use electricity, you can hardly go emission-free on a cloudy windless day. Consuming energy on a windy day spring day with a large availability of renewable energy can, however, be virtually emission-free”, says Chris Caerts. "Energy flexibility, in other words controlling your production or consumption, will become at least as important in the future as energy efficiency in order to bring emissions down.” Being energy-flexible can already be financially rewarding today and will even be more in the future. Moreover, it is often possible to control consumption with limited investment costs.

In the European project AmBIENCe - Active Managed Buildings with Energy Performance Contracting – we establish new business models and contracts to add energy flexibility to Energy Performance Contracts. Furthermore, we also take into consideration the additional services that can be linked to this (comfort, value of the building, health, safety). In the project, we develop a platform that is able to map out options for the building owner and to calculate the cost savings. The entire concept is tested in 2 test locations in Belgium and Portugal.

The project focuses primarily on offering new solutions and products for Energy Service Companies (ESCOs), building owners and investors active in the real estate sector (residential, commercial and tertiary).

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For building owners

Adding active energy control to Energy Performance Contracts invites building owners to participate proactively in an accelerated reduction of their emissions in an attractive way: Increased comfort, lower energy costs, more insight into their own energy needs and additional services that also help reflect on their sustainability.

For project developers

The project pays a lot of attention to developing business models and contracts that energy service companies (ESCOs) and other project developers can integrate into an attractive product portfolio. This can persuade hesitant building owners by guaranteeing an optimal payback time with minimal investment costs, by finding interesting funding and by sharing part of the risk. Insulation, energy monitoring and management systems, solar panels, energy storage, electrification of the heating system and charging systems for electric cars fit perfectly within today's ESCO activities and make room for flexibility products that can be offered to market players in need of energy flexibility ( network operators, aggregators and electricity producers).

The AmBIENCe consortium has 8 partners from 4 EU countries: VITO/EnergyVille (project coordinator), BPIE and Energinvest from Belgium; ENEA from Italy; CEIT and TEKNIKER from Spain; INESC TEC and EDP CNET from Portugal.

The AmBIENCe project is financially supported by the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program of the Europe Union under grant agreement no. 847054.

[1] Source: http://bpie.eu/publication/97-of-buildings-in-the-eu-need-to-be-upgrade…

Chris Caerts


Chris Caerts

Project Manager Energy Technology at EnergyVille/VITO; Research line coordinator Thermal Systems at Energyville