Designing energy retrofit projects for existing buildings is complex. Renovation activities suffer from needless fragmentation, long processes and uncertainties. This hinders the building stock from becoming more sustainable and contributing to the EU’s ambitious targets of 40 % emissions reduction by 2030. New solutions that facilitate collaboration and improve the whole process are needed. Acknowledging these challenges, the EU-funded OptEEmAL project created a powerful collaboration platform that allows stakeholders to create an integrated and systemic design for their retrofitting projects. The new smart tool helps them choose the best retrofit solution in terms of energy efficiency and cost, reducing design time from several weeks to less than 24 hours.
Fighting the fragmented market
Progress in retrofitting properties in the EU continues to be slow and fragmented. The rate of renovation is currently estimated at 1.5 % yearly. The fragmentation of the retrofit market is mirrored in the poor communication between separate parties that contribute to a project. “Managing the needs of multiple stakeholders – often with conflicting interests – is key to moving the existing building stock towards low-energy standards. Shifting to an integrated project delivery (IPD) approach is a major paradigm for how projects can be delivered in the construction industry,” notes Miguel Ángel García-Fuentes, business developer at Cartif Technology Centre in Spain. Integrating IPD, the OptEEmAL platform lays the foundation for a broad collaboration amongst stakeholders. Involving all stakeholders during all project phases, it helps avoid common conflicts, promotes knowledge sharing, and reduces time and resources needed. The IPD approach is applied in the first phases of the project during project conceptualisation, criteria setting and design stages. Another key tool supporting this new level of collaboration is building information modelling (BIM). Connecting the OptEEmAL platform with existing BIM or CityGML tools allows stakeholders to easily generate, manage and share project data, while having access to more resources and a wider range of expertise.
OptEEmAL – the optimal solution
Capturing and representing the reality of the retrofitting value chain has been a cornerstone of OptEEmAL. Once users insert all required data including BIM and CityGML models, OptEEmAL transforms them to evaluate the current conditions and the proposed retrofit scenarios. The problem is conceived as a set of data models that represent the energy, comfort, economic, and environmental performance of the district. The models also hold information about the inhabitants’ energy systems, boundary conditions, or desired targets. Once the baseline models are generated, OptEEmAL proposes a set of candidate retrofit scenarios automatically by combining energy conservation measures from the catalogue that represents them. Lastly, users are presented with the set of best scenarios against the prioritisation criteria inserted. “This level of automation seen in OptEEmAL exceeds that of state-of-the-art tools. Until now, evaluating candidate alternatives has been very time consuming. Furthermore, the different tools used to simulate the retrofitting scenarios dictated creating ad-hoc models due to lack of interoperability. Adding also the lack of information about certain technologies created increased uncertainties along the process and prevented retrofitting investments,” notes García-Fuentes. García-Fuentes concludes that “OptEEmAL makes retrofitting easier and more profitable for all people involved, saving at least 19 % of the retrofitting costs.”
OptEEmAL, retrofit, stakeholders, integrated project delivery (IPD), building information modelling (BIM), district, energy conservation measures