New technologies will reduce the energy consumption in multi-storey buildings

Multi-storey buildings are among the biggest energy culprits in Europe. However, with a new project, a number of Scandinavian partners have set out to find a solution that can reduce energy consumption and optimize the district heating supply.

Energi_byggeri1Apartment complexes and multi-storey buildings represent nearly 40% of the total energy consumption in the EU, and since only 1% of these types of buildings are newly constructed, the rest faces problems with both inefficient use of energy, heat loss and expensive impending energy renovations. The project ’SURE – Nordic Built for Sustainable retrofitting’, which is initiated by a consortium of Danish, Swedish and Finnish companies, is aimed at finding a cheap and effective response to the challenge.

The solution is to be found by collecting and analysing data on the buildings’ energy consumption, heat loss and heat supply, so energy renovations can be planned and the heat supply can be adjusted according to the requirements of the individual building.

– With the SURE project, we want to find out how the energy consumption in multi-storey buildings can be reduced in an economically and environmentally optimal way. We do this partly by making various technical analyses, just as we include the residents of buildings. This way, the building receive an energy renovation, just as the awareness of the consumer to save energy is increased, explains Erika Zvingilaite, Project Specialist at Insero Energy, who helps recruit demonstration building and analyse data from the project.

Three systems in one platform

The project comprises three new technologies, which will make it easier to diagnose the energy consumption and find the best energy-reducing solutions. The three technologies include an IT system for diagnosing and optimizing heating and indoor comfort, a visualisation tool that is able to show the energy loss in the building, and an open IT platform which collects and analyses the data obtained.

– With this project, we want to offer one single product, which helps make multi-storey building more sustainable. We do this by combining technology for diagnosing and optimizing heating with a user interface designed to promote energy-efficient behaviour among the tenants, explains Henrik Blyt from VIA University College, Project Manager in SURE – Nordic Built for Sustainable Retrofitting.

Residents should be motivated to save energy

Together with the technological analyses, a study of the energy behaviour among the residents in multi-storey buildings will help show, if it is possible to save energy and increase the sustainability of the building by changing the consumption habits of the residents.

– Previous studies have shown a so-called rebound effect that may prevent an energy-saving effort from achieving the expected results. The effect is behavioural and occurs as a consequence of us increasing our energy consumption after a cost-saving effort. Among other things, we want to try and prevent this effect by involving residents in the energy consumption and increase their understanding of how their behaviour affects the building’s total energy consumption, says Munna Hoffmann-Jørgensen, Sociologist at Insero Business Services, who is also a partner in the project.

Consequently, user involvement is an important aspect of the SURE-project, and the goal is to create a better understanding of energy consumption and heat waste among the tenants by using an interactive visualisation tool. In doing so, it is expected that the residents can help reduce the energy consumption.