Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific Challenge: Around a quarter of the existing building stock in Europe was built prior to the middle of the last century.  Many such buildings,often valued for their cultural, architectural and historic significance not only reflect the unique character and identity of European cities but include essential infrastructure for housing, public buildings etc.  A significant number of these historic buildings continue to use conventional inefficient fossil-fuel based energy systems typically associated with high energy costs and with greater than average CO2 emissions and cost of refurbishment.

The need to save costs increasingly leads to tighter rationing or shutdown of heating or cooling systems, further worsening conditions for conservation of the buildings, for artworks or collections as well as for living conditions. 

Furthermore, changes in building-se and higher indoor comfort expectations than in the past is driving up demand for energy, a particular challenge when buildings of historic value are used or converted for residential, educational, retail, office or other purposes.

Due to the need to preserve authenticity and integrity, many recently developed solutions in the field of renovation are not compatible with or adequately adapted for use in historic buildings. This is particularly the case for listed or protected buildings.

It is also difficult to fully assess and model reliably the energy performance of the many different types of historic buildings across Europe or to assess the effect of energy efficiency measures or more sustainable solutions.

The scope for improved energy-efficiency of historic buildings is significant if addressed by holistic[1], and deep[2] renovation schemes that integrate innovative technologies, adapted standards and methodologies which consider the district dimension and stakeholder involvement.

Energy strategies and solutions for historic buildings have been identified as one of the priority areas in the roadmap of the EeB PPP.


Project proposals should focus on the development of innovative and affordable building renovation solutions for historic buildings that can deliver significant[3] improvements in energy performance while ensuring indoor comfort requirements, non-invasive, reversible solutions.

The emphasis should be on eco-innovation and sustainability by integrating cost-effective technologies for energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions.

Projects may address specific aspects such as innovative energy and environmental assessment methodologies (based on life-cycle and including specific non-monetary aspects in the cost/benefit and return on investment analysis), tools for planning and implementing the  renovation of historic buildings, monitoring and control technologies and systems, non-invasive and non-destructive methods of surveying and diagnosis together with appropriate standards and information management for building maintenance.

Projects should clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of the technologies, methodologies, systems or tools developed and to prove the replication potential of the proposed solutions with, where appropriate, the use of case studies.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 3 and 5 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 will be implemented under the PPP on Energy-efficient Buildings. The activities are expected to be implemented at TRL 4-6 (please see part G of the General Annexes).

Expected Impact: Optimised design and implementation of renovation projects for historic buildings and for listed and protected buildings in particular, delivering significant improvements in energy performance at both building and district level through more tailored solutions. Provision of effective guidelines and contribution to standardisation activities in this field. Reduced fragmentation in this sector through increased collaboration and cooperation and fostering of a more interdisciplinary approach and support to the implementation of the roadmap of the EeB PPP.

Type of action: Research & Innovation Actions

[1] Considering all the refurbishment possibilities at building level together with opportunities at district level such as biomass, geothermal, district heating, etc.

[2] Deep renovation should lead to a refurbishment that reduces both the delivered and the final energy consumption of a building by a significant percentage compared with the pre-renovation levels (cf Directive 2012/27/EU on Energy Efficiency).

[3] Significant savings to  both the delivered and the final energy consumption of a building  compared with the pre-renovation levels (cf Directive 2012/27/EU on Energy Efficiency, Directive 2010/31 on the Energy Performance of Buildings )

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