The barriers to energy savings in institutions and private homes are well known and include people’s lack of interest, awareness, knowledge and human and financial capacity. Experiences made in several countries show that EPC—energy performance contracting—may be used for overcoming many of these barriers. A typical EPC project is delivered by an energy service company (ESCO) and the contract is accompanied with a guarantee for energy savings. EPC is increasingly taken in use in the professional market (firms and the public sector), but is less common in the residential sector market. It has been suggested that there are several barriers for using EPC in the domestic sector such as the uncertainty involved in estimating forthcoming reductions in private consumption. In this paper, we present the results from a pilot project on the use of EPC in a housing cooperative in Oslo. The project was initiated and observed by the researchers. The research followed a transdisciplinary methodology in that it was conducted by both researcher and practitioner (co-authors) in close collaboration with members of the housing cooperative and the ESCOs, who also contributed to the interpretation of results. We document the process in terms of why the Board decided to join the EPC pilot, the call for offers from ESCOs who guaranteed that purchased annual energy would be reduced by one third, the responses to and negotiations of the offer from the ESCO who became contracted in the initial phase and up to the moment when the General Assembly finally decided to not invest in the proposed energy saving measures. We find that the residents not only had limited interest in energy savings but also lacked confidence in the EPC process. This contributed to the outcome. We discuss the findings in relation to the barriers to using EPC among housing cooperatives. We highlight the need for more knowledge about the client side for understanding how barriers may be overcome. Three specific recommendations for how EPC may successfully be employed among housing cooperatives are suggested as follows: (i) include refurbishment and not only energy savings in the EPC, (ii) identify the residents’ needs in an early phase and (iii) communicate the EPC principle to the residents throughout the process.
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