Optimization of energy usage and strengthening of sustainable lifestyles – that is the focus of a new Nordic project, which started on March 1st. Involving partners from Denmark, Sweden and Finland, the project will develop an effective and low-cost solution for saving energy while simultaneously identifying sources of energy leaks in multi-storey buildings that need retrofitting. The project combines three components into one platform: technologies for optimizing heating and indoor comfort in existing buildings, an interactive visualisation system that enables an understanding of different kinds of consumption and an open ICT infrastructure.
Today, buildings account for 40% of the total primary energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. This in itself is cause for concern, but since new construction in Europe only represents about 1% of the building stock, most buildings present today will still be standing in 2050. Furthermore, 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.
A new inter-Nordic project called ‘SURE! – Nordic Built for Sustainable Retrofitting’ addresses these issues by focusing on optimizing energy usage and strengthening sustainable lifestyles for residents in multi-storey buildings that need retrofitting – effectively and at a low cost.
– Experience shows that structural renovations rarely deliver the expected energy savings and that further initiatives are needed. By using a technology for diagnosing and optimizing heating and indoor comfort in existing buildings, supplemented by user interfaces designed to achieve sustainable and energy-efficient habits among tenants, this project offers a solution which helps solve this problem, explains Henrik Blyt, project manager in ‘SURE! – Nordic Built for Sustainable Retrofitting’.
Identification and optimization
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, which will be installed on top of the existing heating system, will in itself lead to large energy savings of approximately 15% as well as be used for continuously diagnosing the building. This can in turn be used for measuring the effectiveness of the whole retrofit process and tracking the impact of behavioural changes.
– Applying the diagnostic system before a retrofit is performed is 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 in order to achieve continuous diagnostics is highly innovative, explains Mats Pettersson, CEO and co-founder of Ecofective, who is one of the partners in the project.
Interactive visualisation help change behavior
Obviously, the cost for energy can also be lowered when properties are retrofitted. However, today’s processes are in many cases inefficient – and thus more expensive – focusing mostly on structural changes of the buildings and rarely taking into account the potential of involving residents to achieve more energy efficient habits. This means that the retrofitting rates are quite low. Consequently, there is a need for efforts to create sustainable patterns of behaviour and to prevent so-called rebound effects, such as when people think they can waste energy because they live in an energy efficient building.
As a result of this, the project adopts a holistic and cross-disciplinary perspective focusing on the dynamic relation between technology, sustainability and behaviour. To be able to get a real impact, both in terms of energy efficiency in the buildings and the creation of sustainable practices, the project involves suppliers of technology, property owners as well as the residents themselves.
Specifically, the project combines three components into one platform: technologies for optimizing heating and indoor comfort in existing buildings, an interactive visualisation system that enables an understanding of different kinds of consumption – thus facilitating behavioural changes – and an open ICT infrastructure.
Each component is innovative in a relatively conservative building industry, but it is the modular integration of all components together that presents completely new opportunities within facility management, user involvement and visualisation, and open access for third party service providers – all with the main goal of reducing energy consumption.
The project is expected to end up in a low-cost, effective, innovative and user-involving retrofitting concept that combines patented technology, open ICT platforms and interaction design. And, most importantly: it will be validated through real life applications and experiences.
Facts about ‘SURE! – Nordic Built for Sustainable Retrofitting’
- The project period is March 1st 2014 – March 1st 2017
- A Nordic Built project funded by EUDP (Denmark), Energimyndigheten (Sweden), Formas (Sweden) and Tekes (Finland)
- An inter-Nordic collaboration with partners from Sweden, Finland and Denmark. The partners are: Ecofective (SE), IC-Meter (DK), BaseN (FI), Acreo Swedish ICT (SE), Interactive Institute Swedish ICT (SE), VIA (DK), Insero Energy (DK) and Insero Business Services (DK)