Partnership & buy-in

Partnership & buy-in covers the period in which the majority of stakeholders is yet unfamiliar with the service. Key actors need to be identified and support needs to be gathered.

Set goals

The first step at the outset of an implementation project should always be agreement on the overall goal of the intervention. While improved energy efficiency is obviously the overarching goal, there are several ways to achieve this and the kind of intervention to be chosen also depends on the regulatory environment and the actors to be involved.

The project should start with a review of the potential benefits and downsides of implementing smart metering based services for a given stock of buildings. Based on best practice and available research evidence, it should be possible to make a general estimate about the costs and potential benefits to be derived from implementing.

Any decision about implementation of smart metering related innovations in the housing sector has to take full account of the national and regional/local regulatory environment. A number of Member State governments have developed policy initiatives for the support of smart technologies for energy efficiency in the residential sector. In many cases, support programmes and incentive schemes have been set up. Investors need to fully understand the national implementation context before embarking on a smart metering project.

The national and local environment will also influence the main options which are available for action, as well as the main drivers and constraints to be expected.

The project at this stage will also want to take stock of what is in place already in terms of infrastructure for metering and energy management. All of the above will enable the project initiators to define a number of goals of their endeavour. At this stage of the project, goals need to be general rather than specific, in order not to predetermine key features of the project before all key stakeholders have come on board.

Review Potentials

While some housing providers will want to roll-out smart metering within their housing stock to comply with the recommendations by national policy-makers, others will want a well elaborated business case for justifying any investment for the ICT-service implementation. Methods for calculating a cost-benefit analysis are explained in Outcomes. For ex-ante calculations, i.e. analyses conducted prior to an implementation, estimates need to be used. These can be derived from cases of good practice reported in the literature.

The checklist below allows you to check which of the potential benefits expected from BECA implementation are of relevance to your organisation. This exercise will help you design the implementation in a way which is likely to maximise those benefits that count most for you.

Which of these potential benefits are relevant for your organisation?


Rate the entries on a scale from 1-5. List must not be complete so collect and add goals any expectations which came up in discussions.

  • Own cost savings
  • Cost saving for customers (tenants)
  • Reducing emissions of green house gases (GHG)
  • Developing the organisation’s profile as committed to sustainability
  • Managing energy networks/grids better by shifting or reducing energy consumption, e.g. reducing peak demand levels (peak shaving)
  • Gaining better knowledge about tenants’ energy consumption patterns in order to identify dwellings in need of targeted advice
  • Enabling provision of more adequate, personalised recommendations on saving energy to tenants
  • Being better able to spot energy system failures and any other kind of critical issues (in real time)
  • Developing tenants’ understanding and feeling of responsibility for energy consumption and how best to make it more efficient
  • Offering best possible service to customers (tenants)
  • Improving customer relationship management (CRM), e.g. being able to offer additional services tailored closely to customer’s preferences and needs
  • Sending customers more accurate bills based on actual consumption data rather than on estimates or average values
  • Offering energy consumption feedback through a range of channels, e.g. the Internet, in-home-displays, mobile devices, paper-based billing etc.
  • Preparing investments in energy efficiency where they are most cost-efficient
  • Integration of renewables
  • Enabling introduction of dynamic tariffs as a means to reward customers for shifting energy use to off-peak times
  • Improving load management by enabling remote adjustment of the customer’s load (e.g. briefly switching off electrical heating devices at peak times), and passing on some of the savings made possible to customers

Status Quo

Before planning your own implementation project, you will need to check the current status quo in terms of energy systems and energy efficiency infrastructures and initiatives. What metering systems, wired or wireless infrastructure, etc. are in place?

The same goes for activities already completed or started concerning awareness raising, energy saving advice, etc. – ranging from information provided via posters or publications to the use of an energy coach and cooperation with local providers of advice and counselling to households at risk of poverty.

Taking stock will allow you to incorporate existing infrastructure as good as possible, and to build upon up-and-running activities wherever possible. It will also enable you to identify key individuals and stakeholder organisations who should be involved in one or the other way. In this context, it is not only important to identify whether certain infrastructure is already in place but also who has the control / ownership. The need for duplicating equipment can be a major hit to the cost-efficiency of a business model and it might even be in your interest to consider offering payments (e.g. fees or other involvement) for existing infrastructure / services.

Use the checklist below for the stock-taking exercise. Remember that each building in your portfolio might have different characteristics, for which reason you should distinguish between each of them.

Status quo assessment – What’s there already?


In form of a table you should record, ownership / control of equipment and the equipment name / number.

  • Meter infrastructure
  • In-home displays
  • Broadband Internet access
  • Tenant portal or similar on the Internet
  • Telecommunications infrastructure (e.g. cabling throughout the buildings)
  • Public online access (information kiosk or similar)
  • Own energy generation capabilities
  • Renewable energy generation
  • Energy coaches or similar
  • In-house expertise in advanced metering etc.
  • Informative billing
  • Programme for awareness raising on energy saving
  • Advice & education measures targeting high-consumption households
  • Municipal initiatives on climate action
  • Tenant association or similar
  • Dynamic tariffs (e.g. electricity rates lower during off-peak times)

The building type and the structure in place determines which efficiency activity is of particular relevance and which issues need to be pointed out to the tenants in order to maximise their own impact. This information is also of relevance for evaluating the impact as meta data carries the ability to cluster information and sources.

The following checklist can be used to collect key information and it is advice to cluster the buildings in a second step.

Status quo assessment – Building details


Select the details relevant to make decisions and likely to convince stakeholders.

  • Ownership / Controlled by
  • Year of construction
  • Year of last major refurbishment
  • Storeys
  • Dwellings (number)
  • Residents (number)
  • Total dwelling surface in m²
  • Average m² per dwelling
  • Total community space surface in m²
  • Average m² of community space per dwelling
  • Basement
  • Roof type
  • Total m² of outside surface
  • Average m² of outside surface per dwelling
  • Insulation material
  • U-value walls
  • U-value windows
  • Heating source
  • Heat production (power)
  • Heating Efficiency (output)
  • Warm water source
  • Total Consumption of various resources in the last year

Review Drivers and Constraints

Main drivers and constraints which can be expected to have an impact on the project’s success. Drivers are trends and developments affecting external conditions (e.g. increasing energy prices) or in conditions internal to the organisation (e.g. increasing company focus on investments in sustainability).

Assessment of the most important drivers and constraints at this stage in the project will enable you to properly plan the second phase in the implementation, i.e. identifying all key stakeholders and obtaining their buy-in.

Typical drivers include:

  • Political support at national or local/regional level, creating a strong momentum for exploiting smart metering’s potential for improving energy efficiency;
  • Financial support in the form of subsidies being paid to housing providers implementing smart meters and/or related services in residential buildings;
  • Consumers voicing increasing demand for being better able to explore their own energy consumption and to cost-control their energy bill;
  • Increasingly wide-spread concern for the environment, particularly for preventing severe climate change, which can lead consumers to take a stronger interest in saving energy;
  • Strong consumer interest in ICT applications that give them more control over their daily life combined with automation of routine processes, as discussed widely e.g. under the term “smart homes”.

Types of constraints can include:

  • Investment strategies focusing on the short-term, resulting in a prioritisation of investments that yield a return in a short period of time over investments yielding a much larger return but only in the longer term;
  • Financial constraints and budget squeezes, making it more difficult to justify fast roll-out of smart metering to all or a large proportion of dwellings;
  • Uncertainty about upcoming regulation, e.g. on smart meter roll-out, informative billing, mandatory energy savings, etc. Perceived uncertainty is likely to result in reluctance to make large investments in infrastructure;
  • Concerns about data privacy among customers (tenants). Such concerns have already lead in 2009 to the failure of the plan of the Dutch government to make smart meters compulsory in every residential building by 2013, after intense campaigning by consumer protection groups and privacy advocates;
  • Concerns about data security threats posed by computer viruses and similar attacks. While consumers have learned to live with the risk of infected home computers, security experts have pointed out that smart meters are also potentially vulnerable to hacking, manipulation, spying and unwanted telemarketing ;
  • Lack of cooperation by utilities, measurement service providers and other stakeholders who have a key role in the energy supply chain (see section 4.2.2).


Replication Scenarios are also an interesting way to decide which buildings to equip, particularly, if you already have experience in the domain.

Actual drivers and facilitators at work at a given site for implementation will depend strongly on the implementation context and the local environment for investments in energy efficiency and roll-out of customer-facing applications. Use the checklist below to note down those drivers and constraints which are, potentially at least, of most relevance to the success of your project.

Drivers and constraints service implementation


Do not only rate the individual items but also write down the specific contingency and the implications resulting for all relevant items!

  • Political support at local level
  • Financial support
  • Consumers voice increasing demand for being able to cut their energy bills
  • Increasing concern about climate change and carbon footprints
  • Strong consumer interest in “smart homes”
  • Investment strategies focussing on the short-term
  • Financial constraints and budget squeezes
  • Uncertainty about upcoming regulation
  • Concerns about data privacy
  • Lack of cooperation from key stakeholders
  • Any other potential constraints

Identify Key Stakeholders

This chapter seeks to help with identification of all stakeholders who need to be involved in one way or the other in a project for exploiting smart metering’s potential for energy efficiency. Once you identified the key stakeholders for your project, contact should be established to enable them to reconfirm the project goals as set initially by the initiator, and to adapt them in light of the various stakeholder priorities, motivations and policies.

The key stakeholders in the market for energy efficiency are:


Middle-click on the items below to see the description, if necessary. For each of this stakeholders a comprised version of Guide is provided if you wish to hand them input and details to understand the matter.

Incentivise Stakeholders

Involving all parties that have a stake in the “energy efficiency value chain“ in the implementation project is a key conditions for success. What is more, all key stakeholders involved need to believe that the project is worth their effort, i.e. their financial resources, but most importantly their willingness to cooperate and their commitment to the project’s ultimate success.

Experience has shown that various stakeholders may feel the need to resist or delay the introduction of energy-efficiency strategies based on smart metering technology. It is for this reason that incentivisation should be a core ingredient of any project for implementing ICT-services.

List of stakeholders

The following links summarise the main hurdles to achieving stakeholder buy-in, the role of diverging incentives, and ways how these can be tackled.

Generalised value propositions


ICT-enabled energy services help stakeholders to:

  • manage energy consumption in city buildings
  • take decisions on the energy consumption based on real-time or high-frequency information
  • constantly reduce costs
  • improve service performance and support
  • scale up innovative solutions to a city level
  • involve citizens through interaction and awareness delivery
  • provide rapid access to new technologies
  • implement more complex applications
  • demonstrate clear return on investment

Specific value propositions are:

  • reduce total cost of ownership
  • provide a predictable expenditure model
  • take well-grounded decisions based on up-to-date data
  • deliver greater service performance
  • introduce rigorous process efficiency
  • maximize innovation and technological agility
  • deliver transparent ROI


  • reduce cost of energy and water consumption
  • reduce cost of network connection (e.g. fees for metering)
  • reduction of energy poverty and dependence on state
  • positive impact on environment
  • positive feedback for own activity
  • positive influence on behaviour and self awareness
  • improved communication channel with end users

Council (Building Occupiers / Owners)

  • reduce cost of metering
  • reduce cost of grid connection
  • faster detection of malfunctions
  • future proofing for own energy provision (e.g. local storage)
  • potential to market energy to tenants
  • ICT integration of energy processes into management procedures
  • facilitated communication between departments

IT-service and measurement providers

  • innovative business model based on service and energy contracting
  • reduce cost of metering
  • reduce cost of grid connection
  • faster detection of malfunctions
  • future proofing for own energy provision (e.g. local storage)
  • integrated data collection for further analysis (e.g. big data)

Incentivisation: Summary

A good way to explore the different motivations among key participants in the implementation project is to ask each key stakeholder to fill out the Checklist checklist_reviewbenefits and then to discuss the findings in a group discussion chaired by an independent moderator.

List, for each stakeholder organisation, the incentives and disincentives that can be expected to influence their commitment to the project’s goals, together with the actions you will need to take to create or strengthen incentives and get rid of disincentives.

If it is clear that a key stakeholder foreseen to participate in the project cannot be sufficiently motivated, you may need to seek alternative options. Otherwise, the project can be severely affected.

Lessons learnt

Involving just the energy department is not enough

  • Impact
    • The project has ICT aspects and in your case also?
  • Recommendation
    • Think of all the possible fields that are relevant to the project and effect / contribute to its effectiveness and success and approach the responsible people
    • Ask at meeting whether they want to remain active or whether being kept in loop is sufficient

Inform union etc. about service

  • Impact
    • These institutions are trusted by Staff and will fight against service if benefits are not understood
    • Institutions have effective communication channels which will simplify roll-out
  • Recommendation
    • Invite e.g. union to a meeting and communicate motivation and benefits
    • Establish a contact point and keep it in the loop

Inform Tenant Association etc. about service

  • Impact
    • These institutions are trusted by Tenants and will fight against service if benefits are not understood
    • Insitutions have effective communication channels which will simplify roll-out
  • Recommendation
    • Invite e.g. union to a meeting and communicate motivation and benefits
    • Establish a contact point and keep it in the loop

Procurement should consider not only the known providers

  • Impact
    • ICT is a world of SMEs and local companies might exist
    • Smaller companies (e.g. ESCO) are often willing to share risk by contracting
    • SMEs can provide software and research the hardware themselves
  • Recommendation
    • Do not procure hardware based on features available from big suppliers
    • Check availability and applicability of features for edss and ems
    • Check what skills are needed to install, maintain and use devices to stay independent
    • Discuss flexible financing schemes if savings is main target (e.g. contracting savings)

Lengthily procedures for involving staff / professionals into the project

  • Recommendation
    • The best way of reaching out to the staff members is through their superiors
    • It is helpful to have good relations with heads of departments and to keep them informed about all project activities

The dispersion of financial benefits through project as facilitator for the service adoption.

  • Impact
    • Experience showed that by sharing with users the reduction of energy costs, their interest towards the service grew stronger.
  • Recommendation
    • Share positive information, especially financial benefits, through mail, telephone, brochures, etc.
    • Energy managers can increase motivation with face to face interviews.

Use workshops to identify potential champions

  • Impact
    • Workshops are a good way of learning of the users’ attitudes and opinions
    • Champions facilitate the outreach, advertise solution
  • Recommendation
    • Organise workshops with open title
    • Observe attitudes and approach interested and extroverted people first

Weak engagement during holiday seasons

  • Impact
    • for survey conduction, this means fewer responses
  • Recommendation
    • Take holiday periods into consideration when planning any staff-related activities
    • Also relevant in administrative buildings

Weak responsiveness and unwillingness to collaborate

  • Impact
    • poor awareness
    • not reaching a critical mass
    • failure to recruit users
    • risk of failure for entire pilot
  • Recommendation
    • Executives are more collaborative and willing to help
    • First discuss with managers and let them organise their staff
    • Communicate with managers on a regular basis

Observe changin political situation

  • Impact
    • New administration needs to proof action, if system not understood first to be “saved”
  • Recommendation
    • Survey the political scene in order to take advantage when opportunities arise
    • Seek to establish new contacts and influence when a change occurs

Approaching visitors might require consulting public representative

  • Impact
    • Those responsible want to know what is happening in “their” (public) places
    • It might even be legally forbidden in certain buildings
  • Recommendation
    • Check with department in charge, ideally an internal partner
    • Take someone from staff to approach |sv|s