Who are we?

Efficacity is the urban Energy Transition Institute (ITE), established in 2014 under the auspices of the Investments for the Future Programme (PIA) sponsored by the French government.
Unique of its kind in France, Efficacity is a partnership-based R&D centre in which some thirty public and private actors are involved.
Based in the heart of the Cité Descartes, a French Sustainable City cluster, Efficacity is made up of over 130 experts and researchers from a wide range of fields, working together to develop and implement innovative solutions to building the city of tomorrow: a city that is energy efficient and massively low carbon.

The challenges of urban energy transition

  • 2015 – 2045: the urban environment will increase by 50% (6 billion urban dwellers by 2045)
  • Cities account for over half of all energy consumption and CO2 emissions, and for most of the levers for energy transition
  • 2015: COP 21 undertakings
  • Given the growing complexity of urban systems, no single existing actor has the capacity to measure the medium- and long-term effects of urban planning and management choices as far as territories’ objectives of stability and resilience are concerned.

Our tasks

  1. Engage in R&D aimed at identifying novel and even disruptive solutions, to accelerate urban energy transition,
  2. Nurture a new culture of evaluation. Develop the methods and benchmark tools to measure and, ultimately, guarantee the performance of urban projects,
  3. Support territories in their energy transition, generate new growth drivers for business sectors and accelerate the emergence of urban-oriented expertise.

A message from the Chairman, Claude Arnaud

What is the vision, the ambition we pursue?

The initial work completed by Efficacity since its founding in 2014 has borne out the belief that there is great scope for accelerating urban energy transition, resulting in more energy-efficient and low-carbon cities.

To achieve this, cities themselves and the new professions engaging with the urban world will evolve through locally optimised solutions, operating systemically and to contractual levels of performance. In some cases, the solutions will be disruptive.

Efficacity exists to provide support to all the actors concerned (private, territorial, institutional, etc.) in devising these new solutions and accelerating their implementation.

In addition, the ability to measure the performance of local projects and urban systems (built environment, energy, mobility, networks and services, etc.) in a scientifically robust manner will open up a high value added market in performance warranties for a wide range of economic actors.

The performance warranty that is now familiar to us at building scale will come to be extended to entire districts and perhaps even beyond. Naturally, this new kind of warranty, on an urban scale, may take many different technical and contractual forms yet to be invented, and will undoubtedly take several years to fully take shape; it is our conviction, however, that accelerating the pace of urban energy transition will be contingent on a warranty of this type, offering reassurance to the key actors in this transition – local authorities, industrialists and financiers – and thereby unblocking the colossal investments required.

Backed by the ecosystem of its founder members, Efficacity aims to become a key player in this performance warranty on an urban scale and in urban transformation.

A message from the Chief Executive Officer, Michel Salem-Sermanet

Our raison d’être is to equip those on the ground with new tools and operating methods to bring about a swift and significant improvement in overall urban energy performances. If we are to live up to this bold ambition, we must ourselves adopt a new and innovative approach.

This approach is founded on four key principles:

1. A change of scale: looking beyond the objective of the energy performance of buildings and extending our scale to that of districts, i.e. the operational scale on which the city is built or renewed;

2. A systemic approach: understanding a district in all its complexity, seeking out an energy optimum that takes into account the built environment, all the energy vectors (electricity, heat, gas, etc.), the full range of urban services (mobility, water, waste, etc.) and so forth;

3. Allowing for the needs of users and hence of the real usage of the district, in how it actually works and in its possible developments, even if certain medium- or long-term developments are difficult to predict;

4. Reflection on how groups of actors may evolve: finding new synergies between those involved in energy transition, investigating new economic models and legal frameworks, with the aim of limiting or sharing the risks, and of eventually shaping a performance warranty on an urban scale, which will encourage investment.

Efficacity thus aims to embody this new and highly inclusive dynamic, in the belief that the complexity of urban systems demands that we innovate not on one front alone, but across a number of complementary fronts at once; scientific and technical advances, awareness of the operational constraints (including economic and legal) for the actors involved, keeping step with the evolution of the city and how it is used

Our key figures


private and public sector founder members, including:

  • 6 industrial groups
  • 7 engineering consultancies
  • 15 public higher education and research institutions

researchers and multidisciplinary experts, including:

  • 30 employees, including 5 to 10 doctoral students
  • 100 cresearchers and experts seconded by our founder members

million of euros annually in collaborative R&D funding:

  • 50% funded by the State
  • 50% funded by the private sector founder members or new R&D partners
    Additional funding from the FUI, ADEME, H2020, etc

Shareholder structure:
Efficacity is a structure under public law (simplified joint stock company, SAS) with a shareholder base distributed as follows:

  • 49% State-owned
  • 51% privately owned (founder members).

skills areas:

  • Energy systems modelling,
  • Energy systems command and control,
  • Mathematical optimisation (stochastic, genetic algorithms, etc.
  • Data science and multiphysics modelling (GIS, statistics/sensors, IoT)
  • Urban projects: (urban planning, architecture, quality of urban space usage, urban engineering, urban design, etc.)
  • Mobility
  • Usages, behaviours, governance
  • Economy, contracts and agreements
  • LCA, environmental impacts

collaborative R&D programmes for the 2017-2020 period:

  • Design of high energy performance districts
  • District management and instrumentation
  • Urban project performance evaluation

R&D partnerships in progress with public and private sector actors


collaborative R&D projects under way


scientific publications since 2015


collaborative web encyclopaedia of urban energy transition, EfficaWIKI:

  • 400 articles
  • 100 contributors

Our three 3 methods of collaboration

  • With our private sector and academic founder members: Efficacity conducts R&D work over the medium and long term, pooled between all the founder members to achieve maximum leverage and ensure bespoke integration of R&D results into the value chain of each member.
  • With our partners: Efficacity operates according to the action research approach and conducts R&D work tailored to specific needs on the ground, as part of an annual or multi-year R&D partnership. This activity is funded by urban renewal agency ANR (under the PIA).
  • With our clients: Efficacity and its consortium act as service providers.

What is an ITE?

Energy Transition Institutes (Instituts pour le Transition Energétique, ITE) are interdisciplinary platforms operating in the field of low-carbon energy, bringing together the skills of industry and of public sector research in a spirit of “joint public and private sector investment and close collaboration between all actors”, intended to reinforce the ecosystems established by the competitiveness clusters.

Source: draft Amending Finance Bill for 2010.