"Despite the growing awareness regarding the implementation of energy efficiency measures, the market for energy service providers still has a long way to go to reach its full potential. There are several barriers to the growth of this market," said Nilufar Neyestani, a researcher at INESC TEC.

It was to break down the barriers existing between energy service providers and potential customers that seven partners from four countries - Belgium, Portugal, Spain and Italy - joined forces in the 'AmBIENCe' project.

Nilufar Neyestani said that during the next two and a half years, the consortium will work on developing new business models and a new concept of energy performance contracts, based on flexibility and consumption management.

"The AmBIENCe project will propose a business model that will make it interesting enough for all parties to be willing to invest in energy efficiency and change their behaviour to improve energy performance".

To increase the flexibility of economic performance contracts, the consortium entities will help building owners and investors to promote comfort and energy savings, using a platform.

The platform, based on an active management model of consumption, will make it possible to calculate the costs and savings associated with the implementation of energy performance contracts.

This solution, in addition to promoting the modernization and intelligence of buildings, will also allow users to play a more active role in reducing energy consumption.

"In Portugal, besides having a very small number of energy service providers, there is a big gap in the incentives to improve the energy performance of buildings. For this reason, the AmBIENCe project aims to attract more investment, offering investors guarantees of return through a better approach to measuring and verifying consumption, thus ensuring compliance with the contract by the users”.

The technology will later be tested in two locations: in three buildings on the university campus in Brussels, Belgium, and EDP Distribuição buildings located in the city of Porto.

The AmBIENCe, which started in June 2019, is financed in €2 million by the Horizonte 2020 programme.