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OptEEmAL Report Summary

Project ID: 680676
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - OptEEmAL (Optimised Energy Efficient Design Platform for Refurbishment at District Level)

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2016-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

OptEEmAL, a project funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, is developing an Optimised Energy Efficient Design Platform able to design energy efficient retrofitting projects that are based on different energy conservation measures to improve the behaviour of a district. The tool will reduce time delivery and uncertainties and result in improved solutions when compared to business-as-usual practices. Under the coordination of Fundación CARTIF, 13 partners from 8 countries are working on delivering an optimised, integrated and systemic design tool based on an Integrated Project Delivery approach for building and district retrofitting projects.

The design of retrofitting projects (energy- and resource-) for efficient buildings and districts must involve all stakeholders within a collaborative approach that allows the delivery of cost-effective solutions. This property is only possible through improved planning and design processes – as IPD paradigm promulgates – and requires consistent and error-free data sharing, proper training of stakeholders and overcoming a number of technical barriers occurring in the current state-of-practice. Among them are: inexistence of proper tools for holistic planning for district refurbishment; lack of interoperability among existing tools; limited access to reliable material and equipment data bases; gaps and improvements needed in emerging technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM). All these concerns make software vendors and stakeholders reticent to invest in the development of interoperable tools and workflows. Thereby expected benefits both with respect to cost and quality of the end product designs are not realised. Apart from technical and industrial barriers, other barriers related to economic, societal or organisational issues appear, including: time and knowledge barriers that preclude application of these processes in large energy-efficient retrofitting projects, resistance to change and to the adoption of new technologies, lack of expertise in fields such as BIM and open-standard implementations like the IFC, and the difficulty in fostering the improvement of regulatory frameworks.

The main objective of OptEEmAL is to provide an integrated and holistic platform which enables users to make informed decisions to execute retrofitting projects to be applied at district level. It will provide significantly improved solutions when compared with building-as-usual practices. The main output of the project will be the functioning platform at a TRL 7 (demonstration of the platform in operational environment).

OptEEmAL, as a platform to deliver these services, is based on the integration of 5 main pillars. The platform is conceived to provide a proper integration of these five concepts which allow providing the users with this holistic tool aimed at reducing time and costs in the design phase, and improving the whole process in terms of management, information flows, and quality of the design. These pillars can be summarised as:
- Integration of a BIM-based information exchange approach to enhance collaboration between stakeholders and improve information flows within the design process.
- Integration of an IPD-based retrofitting design approach, to facilitate communication, knowledge sharing and consensus among interested stakeholders.
- Integration of a catalogue of Energy Conservation Measures considering scale of implementation and providing all needed data for the evaluation of the design alternatives.
- Integration of a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) approach for decision making integrating the interest of the stakeholders and making use of well-established indicators at different scales.
- Integration of a semantic data model and data mapping processes to ensure interoperability among the platform components and consistency of communications.

There are three main processes supported by the platform: (i) data insertion and diagnosis; (ii) scenarios generation, evaluation and optimisation process and; (iii) data exportation process being as follows:
- Data insertion and diagnosis (Step 1). Users will access the platform through user-friendly GUIs and specify the project to be analysed with the OptEEmAL platform. To do so they will introduce the requested files (IFCs, CityGML) and complementary data as information basis and will specify the objectives they want to achieve with the retrofitting project to be executed, such as reduction of the energy consumption, implementation of renewable energy sources, and compliance with nZEB standards among others. All this information will be processed by the platform and the baseline scenario (current situation of the district) will be evaluated by invoking external tools to perform simulations and obtain a series of District Performance Indicators to assess the current conditions.
- Scenarios generation and optimisation process (Step 2). After having introduced all the required data and created the baseline scenario, the scenarios generation process will start. This will consist on applying to the baseline scenario a combination of Energy Conservation Measures (passive, active and control measures) compliant with the objectives set up by the users. These new scenarios will be evaluated in the same way as the baseline scenario: by invoking external simulation tools and retrieving the same indicators as for the baseline scenario, for comparison purposes. In this process the optimisation module will be in charge of evaluating the results coming from the simulation tools as well as of providing further new combinations of scenarios to be evaluated iteratively. Once the stopping criteria of the optimisation module have been met, the set of resulting scenarios will be presented to the user to make the selection of the most suitable for his case.
- Data exportation process (Step 3). This represents the final stage of the process supported by the platform. The data to be exported can be configured by the user. To do so, the user selects first the optimal scenario from the set generated by the platform. Then, the information for this scenario is serialised and transformed to generate the outcomes to be provided to the platform users. The result will be adequate information for the stakeholders to implement the subsequent phases of the retrofitting project.

With the aim of achieving OptEEmAL objectives, project activities are grouped in eight work packages (WPs), covering innovation activities, validation and demonstration tasks, and exploitation and marked deployment activities, which, along with dissemination and research cohesion tasks, corroborate towards the acceptance and market update of the OptEEmAL platform.

OptEEmAL contributes to the PPP EeB Roadmap targets in the overall challenge related to the design of energy/resource efficient retrofitted buildings and districts (including those with historical value), particularly in the three main identified targets: a multi-scale cross-disciplinary approach fostering interactions among players (including software suite and training) offering an optimised design for affordable sustainability framework platform that supports refurbished construction projects which minimise building GHG emissions and their cost of ownership, and an improved collaborative building tool covering not only the design phase but providing valuable information for the execution, maintenance and operation stages, integrating relevant sets of the whole district life cycle information.

Duration: 42 months (September 2015 – February 2019)
Partners: 13 partners from 8 countries (France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Turkey), coordinated by Fundación CARTIF
Call identifier: H2020-EeB-2014-2015 / H2020-EeB-2015
Topic: EeB-05-2015 Innovative design tools for refurbishment at building and district level

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The project progresses smoothly towards the implementation of its tasks. During the first year of work two milestones have been achieved: first the completion of the collection of functional and non-functional requirements for the OptEEmAL components; and second, completion of the overall platform design in terms of components, interfaces and architecture. As main outcome of this period, the project has been able to align the different integrating parts and complete their definition to start the implementation phase, which will roll-out over the next 18 months, running in parallel with the validation and demonstration activities to ensure the end-users acceptance of the platform under development.

More specifically, the work executed during the first year attending at the general objectives of the project has been:
- Holistic and effective services platform for District Energy Efficient Retrofitting Design. The definition of the platform architecture, the specifications of the modules and its components, as well as the functionalities they have to provide in different use cases, have been addressed. Once the collection of functional and non-functional requirements of the platform and also the characterisation of these use cases had been completed, the overall platform design was tackled, including the architecture and interfaces design, as well as the security aspects of the platform.
- Stakeholders’ involvement through an Integrated Project Delivery approach. The end-user driven approach implemented from the activities carried out within the project has led to defining the input data that is needed by the platform to start the design process (provided by both the platform users and external data sources) as well as the pre-definition of the outcomes which are to be provided to the user at the end of the process. All of them have been analysed, under an IPD framework in which it has been defined the different stages of the process in order to ensure that the final result is able to represent their priorities according to a collaborative and consensus-based approach. Moreover, the stakeholders involved in the Integrated Project Delivery approach and their responsibilities have been identified and described in detail. Also, the design of the Graphical User Interfaces has been deeply studied and the stages where the interaction between the user and the platform is needed have been identified.
- Input data. The four main types of inputs for the platform to function have been identified: district data, city data, contextual and configuration data. Likewise, the sources and requirements of the data have been considered. In addition, the automatic retrieval of information from geo-clustered sources has been analysed.
- Integrated ontology-based District Data Model. The input needed for the creation of the model and the data sources for these inputs have been identified almost completely. This framework is currently under development, but first major achievements have been reported. An ontology framework has been identified and vocabulary has been devised. Moreover, a workflow has been established in order to identify how information will flow inside the platform and the data transformations that will take place alongside. The online Bim*Q (ReqCap) tool is currently being used to support the identification of the data requirements. Furthermore, the associations and interaction between different data models have been described.
- Development of a catalogue. The ECM catalogue structure has been defined and the generic measures to be implemented selected. Currently, this structure is undergoing a revision. Also the parameters to be stored from each type of solution have been identified. These parameters will be of the utmost importance to be able to carry out the optimisation process. The existing data sets and data sources containing information about materials and equipment have been identified. Procedures to update and implement measures coming from industry suppliers of products and systems in the future are being devised.
- Optimisation module. The optimisation strategy has been defined resulting into the definition of the evaluation matrix of candidate scenarios, the identification of the prioritisation criteria, and the evaluation of the defined DPIs for each scenario. The module has been designed and described, and all the information needed to start the development phase has been collected. The approach is based on the creation of an optimisation matrix, where the applied ECMs are represented, as well as the quantity. Together with the results of the performance evaluation of the scenarios (represented by DPIs) the optimisation module will be able to provide the optimal scenarios according to a weighting scheme of the DPIs which will represent the objectives established by the users. Currently the final definition of the matrix and the weighting schemes, which are the translation of the prioritisation criteria, are under study. The strategy is currently being tested and enhanced. It will be considered validated when the development of the module is completed and the module as a whole is checked. The development of a prototype of this module is currently under way.
- Simulation module. The district-level indicators that have to be supported by the platform have been identified. After that, a selection of the tools to be supported by the platform in order to calculate these indicators has been performed. The definition of the simulation input generator has been finished. Issues associated with computational complexity and the implications of the repeated evaluations required in the optimisation contexts of the bio-inspired optimisation components have been taken into account. The solutions proposed include the use of distributed computational resources that can significantly reduce the number of evaluations required for execution of district-level optimisation tasks.
- Moreover, aspects related to system integration and component interoperability have also been considered by the specification of relevant (software) interfaces, and the use of containerization technologies for the distribution of computationally-intensive tasks.
- Validation and demonstration activities. The different stakeholders involved in the demonstration cases have been identified, and engaged from the beginning of the project as part of the end-user driven approach proposed in IPD. As part of these activities the identification of the available data in the case studies and demo cases, their desired outcomes, or how the design management teams are organised has been performed. These analyses were useful for the definition of the necessary input and its requirements, as well as for the definition of the design stages of a project implementation.

In addition to the technical developments, during the first year of the project OptEEmAL has devised a Communication, Dissemination and Exploitation plan and has started to effectively implement it through launching different communication channels, developing materials and implementing the first steps of the exploitation roadmap to ensure the market uptake of the platform. Thus, two big areas of activities can be distinguished here, the ones related to dissemination and communication and on the other hand those linked to exploitation. A main accomplishment common to both areas has been the generation of a Communication, dissemination and exploitation plan. An initial version of this plan has been developed by within this period giving an overview of all activities to be launched related both to dissemination and communication and to exploitation and market deployment addressing the complete project consortium and providing a practical guideline regarding the foreseen activities. A second and definitive version of this deliverable is foreseen for the following period.

Apart from this common outcome, the main achievements in this period for each one of the two blocks of activities are the depicted below.

Regarding communication and exploitation the main accomplishments are:
- Creation of a corporate identity and website. This has been completed and documented in the first established period of the project and comprises the main elements of the OptEEmAL corporate identity (project logo, fonts, general graphic elements and graphic of the OptEEmAL concept) and presents the OptEEmAL communication tools and materials developed (project flyer, power point template, deliverable template, project website and project newsletters).
- Project flyer and project final brochure. A project flyer has already been printed and distributed among partners for dissemination purposes. It will be further enhanced with information coming from the project and a second and final version will be generated once certain milestones are covered, to have in the end a project final brochure.
- Report on press releases, blogs, short articles, newsletter and scientific publications. This is an ongoing task, whose main result have been reported. For the moment some strategies have been implemented, and namely, a procedure on how to deal with new publications presented by members of the consortium which establishes the deadlines to be followed to share their articles, journals, etc.

Regarding exploitation strategies and related business models worth mentioning the following accomplishments:
- Report on technology watch. This is an ongoing task that will be updated and enhanced with the progress of the project with further iterations that will come along the project life time. The corresponding report covers the following topics: patent search / IPR survey, trademark search, technology watch via the Enterprise Europe Network, identification of European Projects in the field and further technology and market watch activities.
- Management of IP. The bases to manage IP have been established by exploring IPR among partners and identifying the exploitable results that could be extracted from the platform.
- Report on exploitable results and market analysis. The exploitable results and market analysis have been documented in a specific report that has been already produced. In this report the methodology to identify the key exploitable results so far deployed in the project has been presented (pre-screening of DoA and webinar, IPR questionnaire, workshop with all the partners and post-processing of the workshop results). Following that methodology, the main identified commercially exploitable results were described and analysed (OptEEmAL platform as a whole, ECMs catalogue, visualisation interfaces and interoperability framework).
- Roadmap towards exploitation of project results. The initial steps have been taken in this direction, which mainly involve the identification of exploitable results mentioned previously. The roadmap towards the exploitation of these results will be further presented.

Finally, other relevant activity to maximize the impact of the project to be deployed that has already started is the interrelation with other EU-funded projects:
- Research cohesion activities have started to promote the exchange of information and the collaboration among projects. Based on some initial contacts done with other EU funded project coordinators during the EeB PPP impact workshop 2016, organized by the EC and the EeB PPP and further conversations and information exchange a first common event was jointly organized by the projects OptEEmAL, NEWTREND and ECODISTR-ICT (a workshop on District Renewal) hold within the Sustainable Places 2016 in June 2016.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The present approach for the development of an innovative platform to support stakeholders in the decision making process while developing optimised Energy Efficient Retrofitting Design projects will bring several innovations beyond the current SOTA both at individual module- and interface-level of the platform as well as for the whole integrated solution. Nine areas where advances beyond the state of the art foreseen by the implementation of OptEEmAL are:
- OptEEmAL integrates relevant issues and stakeholders so that relevant information for the design of district retrofitting plans are taken into account in a single framework, providing a support for the implementation of a holistic and integrated approach, which is not possible in currently available tools.
- OptEEmAL allows the definition and evaluation of refurbishment scenarios of districts taking into account life-cycle aspects. OptEEmAL will evaluate environmental, economic and social indicators including socio-economic aspects taking into account interactions with relevant stakeholders and inhabitants.
- OptEEmAL involves stakeholders in their specific roles and support them in delivery of high-quality results by supporting an IPD-based design strategy concept helping implement collaborative, value-adding activities. The project will provide extensive guidelines on participation; idea sharing and consensus achievement techniques that will be tested under the validation activities foreseen in the project.
- OptEEmAL takes advantage of geo-clustering techniques providing automatic answer to climate and energy price queries with the creation of a specific geospatial information database: obtaining, processing and integrating in the platform climate and energy price data and metadata. Additionally, OptEEmAL will provide connections to existing data bases and services related to other sets of information by the application of semantic intelligence to harvest the information from specific unstructured data sources.
- OptEEmAL takes advantage of the experience of its consortium partner’s in the energy conservation issues gained both in research and demonstration projects and also of the resources offered by the most relevant organizations supported by the European Commission and the building industry to provide a wide catalogue on energy efficient measures at both building and district level containing technical, operational, maintenance and cost data.
- OptEEmAL optimisation module deals with the district level, considering a wider spectrum of solutions based on a predefined ECMs catalogue and expressed as scenarios. The combinatorial explosion of scenarios that can be applied for energy efficient retrofitting is handled by the Evolutionary algorithm that will be designed.
- OptEEmAL platform designs and integrates a multi-objective optimisation module based on Evolutionary algorithms, to define and evaluate automatically, refurbishment scenarios at district level. The optimisation module consists of a bio-inspired multi-objective algorithm which iteratively produces a new set of possible solutions, considering several objective functions (Indicators) such as cost, energy, comfort, air quality, and social aspects.
- OptEEmAL combines and integrates multidisciplinary and diverse data sources, namely urban and building data models, and contextual data. The Semantic Web technology to be implemented enables the transformation of the captured data into meaningful information. OptEEmAL orchestrates different technologies to store CityGML, IFC and semantic data using technologies available in the current state of the art of the research community and industry.
- OptEEmAL platform through the unified multi-level district data model and the translation/semantic enrichment components to be implemented (e.g. for zoning or identification of 2nd level boundary information) will, under a common data model, create unique interfaces to generate respective inputs, invoke the corresponding tools, and post-process results so that a set of performance indicators (DPIs) can be computed. The outputs of these tools will then be part of the decision making/best-alternative-selection optimisation process to identify the best retrofitting configuration while respecting stakeholder requirements.

The project impacts are classified in several categories depending on what it is concerned:
- Economic impact, through the reduction of costs during the design phase by about 19% compared to business-as-usual. The operation phase cost could be reduced at a 25% by promoting holistic solutions, leading to a RoI reduction over a 50%.
- Market competitiveness increase through the enhancement of the utilisation of energy efficient solutions in a holistic integration and improvement of the contractual processes.
- Growth of the European construction sector through the creation or improvement of 24,885 jobs in the sector in 10 years and fostering the updating of 3 million of SMEs.
- Social impacts by the involvement of inhabitants in the decision making process to achieve compliancy with their expectations and increasing user acceptance and improvement of social wellbeing.
- Fostering the dissemination of the new knowledge at professional level through specific information channels and actions targeting the identified stakeholder groups.

Related information

Record Number: 197349 / Last updated on: 2017-04-07
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