He who says that saving on energy will compromise comfort and convenience is in for a surprise. The EUR 4 million EU-funded project IntUBE (Intelligent Use of Buildings' Energy Information) has set its sights on slashing the amount of energy we use in our homes and offices by half, without jeopardising our creature comforts. Energy is considered to be the main factor influencing climate change, accounting for 80% of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions. Although the EU is determined to cut emissions, its existing energy practice has the potential for increasing emissions by 5% by 2030. With oil prices soaring and gas supplies shrinking, key players are determined to boost energy efficiency. Help is therefore needed to find ways to save on energy and this is where the IntUBE project comes in. Bringing together researchers and entrepreneurs from nine European countries, the project aims to help the EU reach its goal of improving energy efficiency by 20% in the next 12 years. European homes and offices consume about 40% of the energy used on the continent. To tackle this area of consumption, the project intends to work with the construction industry to help build more energy efficient houses and buildings. Participating in IntUBE is Nashwan Dawood, Professor of Construction and Director of the Centre for Construction Innovation & Research at the University of Teesside in the UK. 'Part of the answer is to use IT technology to intelligently analyse and control the consumption of energy, not just in new buildings, but also in existing homes and offices,' says the professor. While calling on people to reduce their consumption of heating and lighting would be ideal, it isn't feasible, Professor Dawood says. 'If our offices become unbearably hot, people will reach for the air-conditioning or, if it gets too cold at home, hit the central heating button,' he explained. What could work is to provide consumers with information about their 'energy consumption and more intelligent control-systems that will allow people to use their energy in a much more efficient way', suggests Professor Dawood. The EU's objective to increase energy efficiency by 20% will fail if it focuses only on new and renovated buildings, believes the Teesside professor. To help make sure that this target is reached, the IntUBE consortium plans to develop buildings that use natural energy resources, resulting in decreased life-cycle energy costs and lower impact on the environment. 'We want to increase life-cycle energy efficiency of buildings without compromising the comfort or performance,' Professor Dawood underlined. 'We will achieve this by integrating the latest developments in the ICT-field into intelligent building and neighbourhood management systems, and by presenting new ICT-enabled business models for energy information-related service provision.'