Why Proficient? 

The PROFICIENT project responds and exploits the actual trend in EU that is the new process of self-organised housing with a rapid market growth. The concept of self-organised housing has been well-known and EU countries are now ready for the market transition from demonstration projects to a volume market.

The market size will become doubled in next decade as committed in the recently launched policies and action plans by governments in a number of EU countries. The experimental phase of self-organised housing has been completed. For instance, in the Netherlands, in the past 10 years, successful pilot projects in various municipalities across the country have been carried out under the SEV subsidy and supervision programme (SEV, 2010). However, at present self-organised projects do not automatically mean EeB or a large-scale project a district level. The UK government claims that ‘self-built homes are greener’ and an extra 25,000 self-built homes each year will save around 100,000 tonnes of CO2. The maximum impact of combined measures is around 70% of energy saving in existing dwellings and up to 50% in new dwellings EU wide.

PROFICIENT implies a 50% growth of CSO energy-efficient buildings in the next decade which includes 25% growth of district-scale energy-efficient building projects. Within this new volume market, it is plausible to reach far above 10% market share growth per year for SME-driven technology solutions addressed by PROFICIENT.

The best guarantee for the success of EeB is obtained if the new businesses can generate revenue (far) beyond the current R&D and demonstration spending. Having known that many new technologies from R&D projects are available and have been demonstrated in small-scale applications, the purpose of the PROFICIENT project is to take a greater holistic perspective over a broad range of high-performance yet affordable technology solutions in building and energy systems. Thus, PROFICIENT will not promote just a particular technology, but instead the integration of technologies based on cost-performance optimisation for each situation.

Up to 50% reduction of consumption of the existing multi-family dwellings, including high-rise prefabricated panel buildings will be achieved. The impact will be enormous since existing, such a dwelling type counts for nearly 50% of the total housing stock within the EU. This impact will be achieved by promoting practical solutions with the focus on performance and end-user, and by activating local ESCOs, such as demonstrated in PROFICIENT action-learning case in Hungary.

Main Aim

The project aim will be achieved through developing a new business model for a “SME network of product and service providers” which will realise value-chain integration in energy-efficient housing market. This business model will enable SMEs to operate, in flexible collaboration with the end-users, on multiple network levels across the EU to jointly develop and implement integrated solutions, and to provide the end-users with a greater certainty of total cost of ownership and lifecycle performance. PROFICIENT will also generate a new business plan for each SME player to implement the network business model. The focal point will be the business plan for local Energy Services Companies (ESCOs) to take the coordinating role in energy-efficient district projects.


Project outcomes will empirically be validated through synergies with local and national projects, such as: eco-cohousing in the UK, energy-neutral districts in the Netherlands, and the sustainable refurbishment of high-rise residential building complexes in Hungary and the Czech Republic. Impact will be assured by the establishment of Communities of Practice (CoP), the cooperation with local Chambers of Commerce, and the synergies with the ongoing EU programme KIC InnoEnergy and European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) that contributes to the SET Plan.


Proficient has 4 major objectives:

1. Objective 1: To develop a new SME network business model for new construction and for retrofitting of energy-efficient and low-carbon residential districts, together with the corresponding business plans for SME players and local ESCOs.

2. Objective 2: To elaborate financial, regulatory and ICT tool sets to support SME network business models in the energy-efficient, CSO, housing market. This objective will cover the most appropriate funding schemes associated with lifecycle performance assessment and monitoring, as well as the set up of an interactive e-marketplace, a Semantic Web collaboration platform, and Building Information Modelling (BIM).

3. Objective 3: To generate new process models of collective-self organised construction and the retrofit of energy-efficient districts, which enable SMEs to apply the new business model to respond to the end-user’s performance demand and the expected Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

4. Objective 4: To demonstrate and empirically validate the plausibility of the new business models and all supporting results, and to ensure the realisation of sustainable impacts at the project implementation level, at the SME organisational level, and at the EU level of energy-efficient building communities.

Work Programme

PROFICIENT aims to assure the realisation of positive impacts of its results in two ways:

1. First, PROFICIENT results will be demonstrated and validated using 4 demonstration cases by relying on the existing partnership between the stakeholders of flagship implementation projects of EeB. The stakeholders of these projects will be joined with the PROFICIENT Community of Practice (CoP). The initial members of the CoP are the SMEs involved in the implementation projects, the homeowners and tenants, and the local authorities. Together with this CoP, the possible embedding of these results within the implementation projects will be clarified, and the follow-up initiatives will be agreed upon. In addition to the demonstration cases, more than 12 other projects will be used for observatory cases and feasibility studies to address differences in geographical and sociopolitical environments (i.e. Western Europe and UK, Central and Eastern Europe, Nordic, and Mediterranean). Cross analysis and benchmarking will be performed to understand: different types of projects (i.e. new construction and retrofit) and different types of approach (i.e. top-down or bottom-up).

2. Second, business creation services will be provided for a large number of SMEs through mutual cooperation with local or national Chambers of Commerce in different countries as well as the synergy with the ongoing EU programme KIC InnoEnergy Built Environment at the Co-Location Centre Benelux. Initially, each CoP around the action learning cases will organise local business workshops to disseminate the knowledge and to create new or spin-off businesses. These workshops will be held in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce or department in Ministry of Economic Affairs dedicated to SMEs. As the follow-up to the initial workshops, this public organisation will continue to empower and consult the SMEs in the implementation of new business strategies after the completion of the PROFICIENT project.