01STEP-2-SPORT participated last February in the World Sustainable Energy Days (WSED), one of the largest annual conferences in Europe dealing with energy efficiency and renewable energies. Around 700 participants from around 57 countries attended to the WSED 2016 edition, which took place in Wels (Austria). Parallel sessions were organized around the following topics: 1) Nearly Zero Energy Buildings; 2) Energy Efficiency Services; 3) Biomass; 4) Energy Efficiency Watch; 5) Smart Facade Materials; and 6) Young Researchers. During the WSED, STEP-2-SPORT participated in the poster presentation, which offered the opportunity to display the first results achieved before a professional audience.

One of the conclusions of the WSED Conference was that energy efficiency services are key for the transition of the building sector towards nZEB (nearly Zero Energy Buildings), and that new financing approaches are needed. In particular, Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) was seen as a good opportunity to finance energy improvement measures. An EPC project is a contractual agreement between the beneficiary (the owner or the facility manager) and the Energy Service Company (ESCO) with the aim to implement individual or a package of energy improvement measures. Under an EPC contract, an ESCO develops, installs, maintains, monitors energy savings and sometimes finances projects designed to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. The savings achieved are used to cover the entire cost of the project, and additional savings are allocated between the beneficiary and the ESCO throughout the contract term and as stipulated in the contract. The contract between ESCO and building owner contains guarantees for cost savings and takes over financial and technical risks of implementation and operation for the entire project duration of typically 5 to 12 years.

Successful EPC projects were presented, for example the ReDIBA project and several public LED lighting projects. ReDIBA is a mass scale ESCO project created by the Barcelona Provincial Council (DIBA) that started in 2010 to support the local and provincial authorities to implement energy improvement measures in public buildings and public street lighting. It supported 108 implemented projects representing around 96M€ of investment and a CO2 reduction of 21,600 tonnes per year.
Several experts outlined that the lack of knowledge on EPC in municipalities is still a significant barrier to develop these projects. Member States should increase the resources to support decision makers by creating the figure of facilitators whose role consist on providing the necessary know-how and experience to support the client in all the necessary steps to develop and implement an EPC project successfully.