In this paper, we analyze the experiences gained from tradable green certificate (TGC) schemes and extract some policy lessons that can lead to a successful design of a market-based approach for energy efficiency improvement, alias tradable white certificate schemes. We use tradable green certificate schemes existing in the Netherlands and Sweden as case studies. Departing from an assessment of both TGC schemes, we identify several institutional and market aspects that have affected their performance. We conduct the analysis by addressing key evaluation criteria (i.e., cost and energy effectiveness, administrative burden, technological innovation, political feasibility, and transaction costs). It is not our intention to demonstrate to the reader a normative aspect of designing tradable white certificate schemes. Rather, we identify some key policy lessons which can be summarized as: a binding long-term target must be clearly expressed in terms of policy time frame and certainty, a proper liquid market must be ensured for tradability of certificates, the scheme should be technology neutral, transaction costs should be kept low, and the energy efficiency target should not only address ‘low hanging fruits’ but also promote innovation.