Innovative EPCs features in Portugal: 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 Portugal

In Portugal, the X-tendo’s partner ADENE, the Portuguese Energy Agency, tested three features to enhance current energy performance certificates: comfort, financing and one-stop shops.

The first feature was tested as In-building test on 5 buildings between residential and non-residential, the financing options with user tests and the one-stop shops with user and system tests.

Summary of results from the testing


ADENE tested and calculated the comfort indicators in 4 different types of buildings: single family, multi family, an office and a school, with measurements of outdoor temperature, indoor temperature, CO2 concentration and relative humidity both in summer and winter. Due to COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time of testing, access to the buildings was limited. Therefore, checklists and surveys were filled with the users through web-calls. Then the provided spreadsheets for calculating the two X-tendo methodologies, CARP and CORP, were used with the collected data to quantify thermal comfort, indoor air quality, visual comfort and acoustic comfort as well as the overall comfort rating.

The main challenges in the implementation of the feature into national EPC schemes in the test countries were related to the performance of on-site measurements. The additional effort for installing and de-installing of equipment as well as the related costs for equipment and staff costs would be a relevant barrier to the implementation of the procedure into national EPC schemes. ADENE therefore suggests to only use the CARP methodology, not the CORP methodology.

The comfort indicator is mature and well prepared, but it is important to work further on the future EPC format. It was highlighted by Portugal that if in future smart sensors and controls are already installed in dwellings that it will be easier to conduct CORP assessments. In addition, it emphasised that this feature is more relevant to private buildings than commercial ones.

Financing options

The climate transition is part of the Portuguese Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP), having allocated an investment in the building’s energy efficiency of 620 M€. Already in place, there are financial programs as for example “Edifícios mais Sustentáveis” (96 M€), “Vale Eficiência” (1st phase – 32 M€) or “IFFRU 2020” (1.400 M€), some taking advantage of the EPC in their eligibility criteria (either optional or mandatory). Furthermore, the Portuguese Buildings Long Term Renovation Strategy (LTRS) also highlights some policies and actions to support the energy renovation uptake, either through financial support (grants, subsidies and loans taking into consideration the complementarity between the private and public funding) and fiscal benefits and reinforces the role of the EPC in the access to these financial programs and benefits. The objective for the finance functionality testing in the Portuguese context was to implement two new functionalities, that are the automatic improvement measures proposal and the information on financing and incentives. Through user testing, the beneficiaries of the one-stop-shop portal casA+ were invited to evaluate, before and after, the new functionalities’ implementation.

The user-testing was conducted with different stakeholders mainly using a workshop, one questionnaire and one interview with two target groups (qualified experts and management entity of the funding scheme, respectively). This questionnaire/interview aimed to assess the link between the energy certificate and the financing mechanisms and gather feedback from various stakeholders on lessons learned, barriers identified and next steps for the future.

One-stop shops

The Portuguese OSS, portal casA+, has the goal to be compliant with the EPBD by setting up an accessible and transparent advisory tool for consumers and energy advisory services, on relevant energy efficiency renovations and financing instruments, and to convert the information present in more than 3 million improvement measures registered in the Portuguese EPCs into real savings, facilitating their implementation.

Based on the questionnaire results, it was possible to identify 2 new functionalities as priorities for development and implementation: Automatic improvement measures, which indicates automatic improvement measures by analyzing the information on the energy certificate and suggests new improvement measures not yet identified and information on financing and incentives, by making available a page that gathers information on the Incentives and Support Programs in force, responding to the needs of its users. The new page presents some of the available incentives to promote buildings’ efficiency and the adoption of good practices that encourage a better use of resources.

From the homeowners’ perspective, the priority should be given to the development of functionalities based on the homeowners’ expectations and to promote a stronger communication strategy along the local Energy Agencies to disseminate the OSS and its services. From the companies’ perspective instead, the priority would be given on the promotion of more webinars among stakeholders to explain better the benefits of portal casA+ and to reformulate/simplify the membership plan.

Replication potential and conclusions

Current legislation is not sufficiently ready for mandatory implementation of the comfort feature however, it would be possible to mandate certain indicators that are relevant in particular countries e.g., thermal comfort in Portugal, acoustic comfort in Poland etc. For this, deeper consideration of studies will be needed at a national level to determine what is relevant for the EPC in each country.

In the new EPBD recast proposal, there is not enough emphasis on creating regulations on comfort for new and existing buildings or on making it a mandatory aspect of EPCs. It is thus imperative that evaluation of comfort is made more mainstream and awareness is raised among the owners and occupants, especially following Covid-19. The comfort feature is designed to fill this gap and would be instrumental in raising awareness about healthy and comfortable homes.

Financing options is highly relevant in the view of the Renovation Wave, LTRS, Recovery and Resilience Plans and thus, available public and private funding. Besides the EPC scheme, various online tools such as digital building logbook, building passport or digital OSS can provide additional advice on financing.

The main recommendations from the X-tendo testing on how to link EPC schemes with financial instruments are as follows:

  • Enhance the EPC role in access to financing, namely by establishing the EPC as mandatory eligibility criterion in the ex-ante and ex-post evaluation for certain types of mechanisms.
  • Simplify and reduce bureaucracy in the financing programs applications, namely by using the EPCs (the certification scheme should be a trustable tool bringing confidence to the process and allowing for benchmark).
  • Replicate success models linking different entities and promoting their skills towards the common goal of the building energy renovation, namely taking advantage of the link to EPCs and the technical advisory that can come from it and the interoperability between the EPC database and the financing platforms.
  • Have a clear communication strategy for the energy renovation financing initiatives and interconnect and communicate the existing benefits available al national and regional level (e.g. unique platform), namely through digital platforms linked to EPCs (e.g. one-stop-shops).

Based on the results available so far, all the tests reconfirmed the value of the one-stop-shops approach. The Portuguese OSS is closely integrated with EPC delivery – e.g. people would use new online tools based on the results of their EPC. The key functionalities identified as a priority are: a) building on EPC data to indicate automatic improvement measures by analysing the information on the energy certificate and suggesting new improvement measures not yet identified and b) providing new financing advice. Moving beyond the provision of reports to supporting action remains a challenge across the OSSs. The identified next steps for improving the services and tightening the integration with EPCs should help with making action more possible – e.g. in results from all countries the emphasis put on additional support with financing options will be very important. Similarly improved and more accurate recommendations as was tested in Portugal will be key.

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


Subscribe to Our Newsletter:


Your subscription to our list has been confirmed.

Thank you for subscribing!