Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Upgrading smartness of existing buildings through innovations for legacy equipment

Topic identifier: LC-SC3-EE-4-2019-2020
Publication date: 27 October 2017
Focus area: Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future (LC)

Types of action: IA Innovation action
Planned opening date:
12 March 2019
Deadline: 03 September 2019 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Work Programme Part: Secure, clean and efficient energy
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

An essential part of Europe's clean energy transition is the changing role of buildings from consuming energy 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, smart 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 due to higher costs of replacement, longer lifecycles and difficulties related to 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. The revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive introduces a Smart Readiness Indicator (SRI) to reflect the level of services offered by a smart building. Once established, this indicator will give a framework to assess the smart readiness of buildings and building units to adapt operation to the needs of the occupant and the grid and to improve energy efficiency and overall performance.


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. This upgrade should translate into improvements in the areas put forward by the revised EPBD, in relation to the smart readiness indicator.

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.

Besides the pilot demonstrations, 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.

These business models and exploitation strategies should target 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 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.

These solutions should build on innovative technologies, initiatives and approaches contributing to building smartness: semantics, data models, data layers, protocols, software building blocks, APIs, middleware, solutions for smart services, standards, relevant industrial consortia or technology initiatives, etc. Interoperability is essential to ensure the required smart readiness, in particular integration with legacy equipment, user-friendliness and broad market uptake.

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 gas 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:

Open Innovation
Socio-economic science and humanities
Clean Energy
Contractual Public-Private Partnerships (cPPPs)

Topic conditions and documents

1. Eligible countries: described in Annex A of the Work Programme.
A number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects. See the information in the Online Manual.


2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in Annex B and Annex C of the Work Programme.  

Proposal page limits and layout: please refer to Part B of the proposal template in the submission system below.


3. Evaluation:

  • Evaluation criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex H of the Work Programme. 
  • Submission and evaluation processes are described in the Online Manual.

4. Indicative time for evaluation and grant agreements:

Information on the outcome of evaluation (single-stage call): maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

5. Proposal templates, evaluation forms and model grant agreements (MGA):

Innovation Action:

Specific provisions and funding rates
Standard proposal template
Standard evaluation form
General MGA - Multi-Beneficiary
Annotated Grant Agreement

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
Classified information
Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply

Members of consortium are required to conclude a consortium agreement, in principle prior to the signature of the grant agreement.

8. Additional documents:

1. Introduction WP 2018-20
10. Secure, clean and efficient energy WP 2018-20
12. Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials WP 2018-20
18. Dissemination, Exploitation and Evaluation WP 2018-20

General annexes to the Work Programme 2018-2020

Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme

7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions.

Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

Open access to research data
The Open Research Data Pilot has been extended to cover all Horizon 2020 topics for which the submission is opened on 26 July 2016 or later. Projects funded under this topic will therefore by default provide open access to the research data they generate, except if they decide to opt-out under the conditions described in Annex L of the Work Programme. Projects can opt-out at any stage, that is both before and after the grant signature.

Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they plan to open or share their data, and will not be penalised for opting out.

Open research data sharing applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan.

Projects need to create a Data Management Plan (DMP), except if they opt-out of making their research data open access. A first version of the DMP must be provided as an early deliverable within six months of the project and should be updated during the project as appropriate. The Commission already provides guidance documents, including a template for DMPs. See the Online Manual.

Eligibility of costs: costs related to data management and data sharing are eligible for reimbursement during the project duration.

The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.


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