‘SURE! – Nordic Built for Sustainable Retrofitting’ is an inter-Nordic project involving partners from Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
The project is focused on optimizing energy usage and strengthening sustainable lifestyles for residents in areas that need retrofitting – effectively and at a low cost. This is done through a technology for diagnosing and optimizing heating and indoor comfort in existing buildings, supplemented by user interfaces designed to achieve sustainable, energy-efficient habits.
Today, buildings account for 40% of the total primary energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. New construction in Europe only represents about 1% of the building stock and as a result, most buildings present today will still be standing in 2050. Current retrofitting processes mostly focus on structural changes of the buildings and are both costly, inefficient and rarely take into account the potential of involving residents to achieve more energy-efficient habits. Consequently, the status quo represents a Gordian knot, preventing pivotal retrofitting.
Hence there is a need for efforts to create sustainable patterns of behavior and to prevent so-called rebound effects (e. g. effects of people thinking they can waste energy because they live in an energy efficient mortgage).
There is already an ongoing shift in many parts of the world to assist people in their daily lives to contribute to sustainable ways of living due to growing environmental threats and invention of new technologies. However, many property owners and providers of technology face large problems when they try to install technology that will reduce the energy use in their buildings. Some of the constraints are the residents’ resistance of change and to little information about what it’s all about.
Even though the cost for energy can be lowered when properties are retrofitted, today’s processes are in many cases inefficient, which also makes the retrofitting expensive. This leads to higher rents and not all residents can afford to live in the renovated apartments, which also creates social problems. There is a large need to find cost effective solutions, efficient retrofitting processes and concepts that involves all parts in this process; technology providers, property owners and the residents.
The overall aim of the project is to adopt a holistic and cross-disciplinary perspective, focusing on the dynamic relation between technology, sustainability and behavior. To be able to get a real impact, both in terms of energy efficiency in the buildings and the creation of sustainable practices, we build on current research and involve suppliers of technology, property owners and residents.
The project will perform analyses of a target group of residents, ethnographical interviews and formulate behavior goals and criteria for goal behavior to gain valuable input to the design process. In addition, the project will also involve different stakeholders in workshops and evaluations to make sure the design is firmly established.
The project will implement an ICT platform with open interfaces for sensor systems, data collection platform and visualization capable of both sensor and actuator control and offering access to all data that is measured in the building. Computation intelligence resides in the “cloud” with a backup locally. Thereby, facility service providers can create new services much more efficiently and less costly than today. The project will focus on energy efficiency, but there is no limit to what kind of services that can be added. Also, based on the open data, completely new ways of design concerning visualization and/or control is enabled, using real time consumption, previous consumption, or a combination. This can be used for the residents, landlords, service providers, and also for comparing statistics from different buildings or geographical areas in a much faster and accurate way than today.
The diagnostic and optimization system in the project will be used for mapping the energy consumption and indoor comfort in a building or an area about to be retrofitted. This will lead to a diagnosis in terms of energy efficiency, which can be used for identifying the source of energy leaks, the amount of savings possible, and which actions to take.
The system will be installed on top of the existing heating system and integrated into the ICT infrastructure, including the cloud platform. It will lead to a large energy savings and will be used for continuously diagnosing buildings. This can in turn be used for measuring the effectiveness of an upcoming retrofit process and tracking the impact of behavioural changes. It can also be used for other measures such as using the building for heating storage.
The project combines three components into one platform: technologies for optimizing heating and indoor comfort in existing buildings, an interactive visualization system, and an open ICT infrastructure.
Each component in itself is innovative in a relatively conservative building industry, but it is the modular integration of all components together that enable a completely new opportunity within facility management, user involvement, visualisation, and open access for third party service providers – all with the main goal of reducing energy consumption in buildings through structural or behavioural means.
Most facility management services today that include ICT components are completely separated with no sharing of data or ICT infrastructure. Examples of these are reading of heating, water, electricity, temperature, elevator alarms, camera surveillance, etc. Parallel infrastructures lead to multiple equipment systems, which is highly unsustainable. The lack of open data makes it virtually impossible for third party providers to develop new kinds of services. Instead, the system will be based on an open ICT infrastructure without a vendor lock on equipment or services.
Moreover, an open ICT infrastructure will, in the long run, release the innovation power from other stakeholders and create a whole new ecosystem for facility services. The project envisages a situation not unlike what happened when the smartphones appeared with a common service platform, open interfaces, and access to enormous amounts of information.
Applying the diagnostic system before a retrofit is performed is also a whole new way of doing energy and indoor comfort diagnostics in buildings. In addition, applying the system on top of the original heating system for continuous diagnostics is highly innovative.
The visualization system is also a new approach that enables a much deeper understanding of different kinds of consumption than what today’s solutions offer. Existing solutions give feedback only on electricity and on a household level, our project will focus on the building level. Input data will be available from the ICT infrastructure where all real time and historical data about the building is readily available. It is only through this understanding that sustainable behavioural changes become possible.
The output of the project is a low-cost, effective and innovative retrofitting concept that combines patented technology, open ICT platforms and interaction design validated through real life demonstrations.
Currently, buildings account for 40% of the total primary energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union
The diagnostic and optimisation system in the project will map energy consumption and indoor comfort and will in itself lead to large energy savings of up to 15%
An interactive visualization system will help create sustainable patterns of behavior among tenants – hopefully bringing energy savings to a total of 30%