Innovative EPCs features in Estonia: testing results and replication potential

The focus of the Horizon 2020 project X-tendo is the further development of energy performance certificate (EPCs) schemes in EU Member States. After analysing the theoretical background, the project focused on testing its innovative features in concrete implementation projects. This series of blog post will help summarise the testing in each of the X-tendo 9 countries to understand the practical viability and the challenges in the implementation of the developed ideas and materials.

Depending on the feature, the X-tendo partners performed different types of tests: In-building tests apply the feature materials on concrete buildings, user tests consist of understanding the user perception related to the developed materials and ideas, system tests intend to understand the application of feature ideas and materials in related systems like EPC database systems.

Features and buildings tested in Estonia

In Estonia, the x-tendo partner TREA (Tartu Regional Energy Agency) tested 3 features to enhance current energy performance certificates: smart readiness indicator (SRI), real energy consumption and building logbooks.

The features were tested on various buildings and using different tests:  on-site visits in multifamily buildings for SRI, data measurements in schools and kindergartens for real energy consumption and user tests for building logbooks.   

Summary of results from the testing

Smart readiness indicator

In Estonia the SRI feature has been tested on 10 different multi-family houses including on-site visits. All buildings have been built between 1959-1964 and renovated between 2019 – 2021.  The steps for the in-building tests of this feature included a collection of data, on site visits and evaluation, and the calculation of the SRI score.

The testing showed that the assessment procedure is straight forward and that it can easily be implemented into an energy audit and/or the standard EPC assessment in most cases. However,TREA  could not estimate the costs incurred with the feature test as the data were collected for multiple purposes.

In order to make the calculation transparent, Estonia’s implementation partner suggests granting access to formulas and weightages to users of the spreadsheet tool.

Real energy consumption

The feature was tested on two kindergartens and one school building. Real energy consumption data was monitored and metered for the year 2020 and directly used in the developed spreadsheets.

The Estonian partner TREA could implement this feature rather easily: in fact, a similar procedure for assessing real energy consumption is already part of the EPC scheme, so additional training might not be needed, as the experts are already certified.

Since integrating real energy consumption into EPC assessment is a standard procedure, only 55 minutes were needed in total per building. TREA estimated the cost to implement this feature to 28€ per EPC.

Building logbooks

For the building logbooks feature, the Estonian partner’s TREA performed a system test, called ‘Energiamonitor’ between May and October 2021: the aim of the system testing was to assess renovation costs, based on physical parameters and the condition of a building, derived from building logbook entries on one hand, and a statistical analysis of detailed cost of renovation derived from a database of renovation tender bids.

During the testing, a desktop application concept was established. The intention was to compare the calculated costs with the actual costs from the planned renovations, once complete, then to adjust the calculation scheme and the Energiamonitor application, where necessary.

The main challenges for this feature turned out to be the lack of reliability of data sources and the delays in building renovations caused by the pandemic, beyond the timeframe of the project. The feature does not contain measures to improve data quality, however, data format can be interoperable with other platforms. The building logbook feature is developed in a straightforward language and is very user-friendly in general. The results are partially presented in a graphical way and enhance the user understanding. The evaluation of feature is not yet fully flexible for all building types; however, the different functionalities can be adapted to other building types in the future.

Replication potential and conclusions

The Smart Readiness Indicator feature as part of EPC is welcome and appropriate. However, the feature methodology would remarkably impact the national EPC costs. In fact, the time needed for collecting the additional information depends on the building, “the more smart features are available, the more time” is needed. However, no additional on-site visit is required. Partners also mentioned that some training would be useful for households to make the most of their smart home and in an efficient way.

The Real Energy Consumption feature was used in Estonia for existing buildings from the beginning.

This feature is heavily dependent on user behaviour, especially in energy efficient buildings. In Estonia, contrary to other countries that have tested this feature (Romania, Austria, Italy), the methodology would not affect the EPC costs, because it is similar to a standard procedure already implemented in the current EPC practices in the country. All in all, this feature is best used as ´secondary´ EPC indicating level of exploiting energy efficiency potential of a building.

In Estonia, TREA advised that it is not entirely clear whether the Logbook feature is meant as a support for calculating and issuing the EPC, or whether it is meant to be an integral part of the EPC and influencing the overall EPC value. TREA advised that, in both cases, a unified form of logbook would be essential, but this appears to be an impossible task, considering the huge differences among member states. Public authorities that are planning to launch a building logbook are advised to first identify their main purpose of introducing the instrument. The identified benefits must be larger than the incurred cost.

For more information on testing and recommendations, read the full report Implementation guidelines and replicability potential of the innovative features for the next generation EPCs here


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