It is now well established that energy consumption during the operational phase of buildings is one of the major contributors to energy use throughout Europe (40 % of the total primary energy use). This consumption encompasses space conditioning (heating and cooling), lightning, heating of water, and running home and offices appliances. Assuming that 80 % of standing buildings in 2020 are already built, the project aims to make use of information and communication technologies to improve the energy efficiency of these existing buildings to meet the requirement of the European Union (EU) in 2020, which is to reduce the energy consumption by 20% in the built environment.
The tools developed during the project include an energy building monitoring tool and a neighbourhood managing tool.
To begin with, an exhaustive state-of-the-art review has shown that both the simulation of the energy used during the construction phase and the operational phase are currently carried out in two distinctive unconnected processes. To overcome this technical gap, an innovative modelling tool is developed which integrates both the design phase and the operational phase of the building. It reduces the efforts that are required to simulate the energy performance during each stage of the life-cycle of the building and makes use of real-time automatized and remote sensing captors as well as miniaturised and wireless sensing devices. The information delivered allows the involved experts to map the dynamic behaviour of a building and to make use of the related data to improve the design of buildings, the control and the maintenance.
Secondly, if both the production and the distribution of electricity at a neighbourhood scale have been fairly well studied, carrying out such an approach at the heating level is an innovative aspect of the present neighbourhood management system. The core concept of this approach is based upon heat trading. Assuming that buildings can be equipped with heat generation devices (i.e. micro combined heat and power generation units), the heat trading opportunity consists in an energy exchange at a district level. Thus, within this novel approach, trading an excess of locally generated heat is carried out in compliance with a local plant rather than distributing the heat through a network of pipes from a large scale plant to several consumer buildings in a traditional configuration. To perform this trading at a local scale, a heat trading simulation tool has been developed. This software allows end-users to model the neighbourhood energy network and to simulate the heat flow at the local scale. As a result, end-users should be able to minimize the district supply vulnerability, to reduce the distribution loss and to evaluate energy, money and CO2 savings.
This project, dealing with built environment assessing and monitoring, was co-funded by the European Commission under the seventh framework program (FP7), a grant funding programme. In particular, the neighbourhood heat simulation tool should be of interest for software developers, assuming that the related Technology Readiness Level is estimated to 7 on the TRL scale.