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Total Renovation Strategies for Energy Reduction in Public Building Stock (BRICKER)

Final Report Summary - BRICKER (Total Renovation Strategies for Energy Reduction in Public Building Stock (BRICKER))

Executive Summary:
The BRICKER project had the initial objective of demonstrating a package of technological solutions for the renovation of public buildings in Europe. In the proposal presented to the European Commission in 2012, ambitious objectives were set in line with what was recommended by the Commission in the call made to unlock the renovation of the European Public Building stock.
Today, 6 years later, the BRICKER project has ended with relative success with respect to what was planned then, considering the adversities and limitations encountered when moving along a path full of uncertainties due to the complexity of the European public sector, and given the peculiarity of the managerial issues related to an innovation project integrated by 19 partners from all over Europe.

Project Context and Objectives:
The proposed solution entailed the development of passive and active technologies, to be implemented in all three demonstration buildings located in Spain, Turkey and Belgium. In this executive summary we will review these 5 facets of the project (passive, active and the demos) trying to highlight the learnings and the main results.
Regarding passive technologies, we have 3 developed systems. The first, the windows with integrated ventilation system developed by Partner GREENCOM, which have been satisfactorily developed in time and specifications. Today, the owner of the technology has a strategic plan to sell units throughout Europe in the coming years. The second passive technology has been developed and demonstrated by ACCIONA; these are the panels of PIR foam with embedded Phase Change Material (PCM) to insulate and increase the thermal inertia of the ceilings in which it is installed. This technology has been developed in collaboration with PURINOVA, and the first known installation of 600 square meters has been installed in a real and functioning building, in our Belgian demonstrator. The solution has great market potential, although perhaps the public sector is not the best to expand its commercialization. The third passive technology, also coordinated by ACCIONA, has been the development of a ventilated façade based on recycled concrete, which has been successfully installed in the ACCIONA Test Cell in Seville (Spain) as the fire protection law in Turkey was modified (the original idea was to install the façade in Turkey). It is true that this technology has been shown on a smaller scale than the initial one (approximately 10% of the initial size), but this is a lesson learned, since the legislation changed during the Project progress, and this can certainly happen to other similar initiatives.
Regarding active technologies, two solutions have been the main developments undertaken during the project; A cogeneration system developed by Partner RANK, and the parabolic trough solar collectors developed by Partner SOLTIGUA. Regarding the first, the objectives initially set have not been 100% achieved, but technology has made a qualitative step forward in terms of its potential for market penetration, as shown by the number of units sold by RANK in the UK in the final months of the Project. The machine developed by RANK has met the requirements indicated initially in terms of electrical and thermal power (around 90 and 400kW respectively), with a performance of 17% compared to 20% goal initially set. Certainly, these data sticks to the initial plan, and especially the unit developed is competitive in the cogeneration market, since several units have been delivered in other projects at the end of BRICKER.
As for the parabolic trough solar collectors developed by SOLTIGUA, the initial challenges have been satisfactorily fulfilled, given the circumstances: It is worth mentioning the fact that the Spanish demonstrator building left the Project, and this was the building in which the design for roof integration was going to be demonstrated, although it was not possible. However, all the solar developments of the project has been deployed in the demonstrator building in Turkey, and we are proud to have installed a solar field of almost 1.5MW thermal in a unique project in Turkey, if not the only one. The efficiency and operation parameters of the solar field are still being checked by operation, but the initial data obtained during the commissioning phase in early 2018 indicate that they are within the framework of the objectives initially marked.
In the facet of the demonstration, the first thing that should be noted is that the project began with three demonstration buildings, and has ended with two (and with an extension of 6 months granted by the European Commission for the Consortium to complete the works). This is one of the most important lessons learned; Public buildings should be an example of efficiency and sustainability, but they are perhaps not ideal to set an example of innovative technologies. We infer this for two reasons; the first is that innovative technologies are sometimes in the line of legality, because regulation usually does not contemplate them, and this weighs down on the public entity to be able to implement them in their buildings. And on the other hand, public authorities must launch public competitions to select the candidate to provide and install the novel technologies, and this procedure is slow, and sometimes not practical when it comes to innovative technologies, not very mature, and therefore with a business model not competitive when it comes to being chosen by price (high in the case of novel technologies) and technical specifications (uncertain for the novelty of the solutions).
The Belgian building is the headquarters of the school of engineers of Liege. It is a multi-block building, with a triangular floor plan and 50 years old, which renovation has been a success in the passive and the active sides. Two of the building blocks of the building, I and VI, have undergone a drastic aesthetic change as the envelope has been completely renovated; facades, roofs and windows. At whole building level, the reduction of the heating demand due to the installation of the passive BRICKER renovation packages is around 16% (all blocks). In this regards, the higher energy saving has been reached for Block VI, where the renovation packages lead to a -68% in term of the heating demand, while for Block I the reduction is around 39%. The reduction of the heat supplied to terminals is reduced accordingly. Concerning the 22 aerating window units installed, significant improvement on the comfort conditions has been observed. The aerating window contribute to reduce the discomfort due to the high temperatures in the zones, in particular when the overheating is not too severe. The PCMS show little advantages, as their impact on such an old building is low compared to the insulation and the new windows installation.
In relation to the active systems, a 1,5MW thermal power biomass boiler has been installed, together with an ORC unit (estimated 90kW electric and 400kW thermal). The reduction of primary energy demand, and consequently CO2 emissions, was one of the most important objectives to fulfil by the BRICKER system. In this perspective, the proposed control strategy consisted in replacing the operation of existing gas boilers with more environmental friendly biomass boilers. The full heating season has not been covered in the duration of the Project. However, the system has been commissioned and started, and its capacity has proven to be in line with the expected outcomes. By this, transient simulation shows that this strategy leads to the following results: Reduction of primary energy of 56% with respect to the existing reference case and analogous CO2 reduction; Electricity consumption slightly increases (+2.3%) with respect to the reference scenario, but this value is covered up to 60% on an yearly basis through the electricity generated by the ORC; In terms of yearly operation costs, the BRICKER system is not showing any significant improvement compared to the renovated building scenario supplied through the existing gas boilers.
Finally, the other building renovated, the Turkish Adnan Menderes University Hospital, is another multi block-building, where only Block A has been renovated (out of 4 blocks). During the course of the BRICKER evolution, new blocks have been built in the campus, but we have considered the impacts at the initial level (Blocks A, B and D) level. In relation to the passive implementations, Block A has been insulated (roof and façades) and the reduction of heating and cooling demands due to the installation of the passive BRICKER renovation packages is around 15% and 11.5%, respectively for the whole sanitary district (A, B and D blocks together). In relation to the active systems, due to the withdrawal of the Spanish demonstrator in the last period of the Project, the solar collectors and the ORC from the Spanish demo were sent and installed in Turkey. There is also an adsorption unit to produce solar cooling on site in the frame of BRICKER acquisitions. With all these in place, around 1,5MW thermal solar power and two ORC units were placed and commissioned in the hospital, in the city of Aydin. The Turkish partners have provided numbers in relation to their expected final energy savings, once the system fully operative, and these show that the electricity savings will be around 17% and the natural gas savings will raise up to 75%.
In relation to the economic indicators for the demonstrators, and considering the Spanish demonstrator as a “virtual one”, for which we only count on simulations, the following outcomes can be highlighted: Although the positive values in terms of energy and environmental KPIs, the financial indicators bring different conclusions for the different demo-sites. Through the effort made on calculating the expectable market prices of the project prototypes, paybacks of the BRICKER system in replication scenarios as the Belgium and Turkish demo sites are expected to be reduced in 2 years (for passive interventions) and 3 years (for both active and passive technologies). In the case of Turkey, the investment on the passive interventions will be quickly recovered, with a payback of 2 years. In the case of the Belgian demo-site, as the passive interventions were more complex, which required of higher investment, a payback of 19 years is calculated. The total interventions, as active solutions are based on technologies less mature than those technologies used for the passive interventions, have associated larger paybacks: 24 for Belgium, 11 for Turkey and more than 30 years for Spain (over lifecycle of the systems, which discourages the investment for the Spanish demo site, in cost-effectiveness terms). From these indicators, diverse conclusions and recommendations for replication are extracted. The bigger the baseline energy consumption of the building and the bigger free renewable source (solar) exploited, the biggest the economic savings in absolute terms. This combined with the fact that the more yearly operating hours a cogeneration or tri-generation system is run, the largest its cost effectiveness, the convenience of BRICKER intervention for scenarios with almost permanent thermal and electrical demands arise. In this sense, high consuming buildings as the Turkish (hospital) and Belgium (faculty) demo sites, would save annually over 140.000€ and 75.000€ respectively, while in the Spanish demo site (offices) the savings would be around 7.000€. These differences in orders of magnitude in the savings have a direct impact on the payback periods.
Finally, the benchmarking of the BRICKER technologies with similar technologies show that the BRICKER concept can be compared to conventional technologies in terms of cost-effective reduction of primary energy and CO2 emissions. This shows that the BRICKER technologies are a suitable approach to achieve the objectives of the EU in terms of energy efficiency, integration of renewable energies in buildings and spreading of nearly-Zero Energy Buildings.

Project Results:
1. The unique selling propositions of the BRICKER portfolio and thus the advantage compared to the competitors, being the one stop shop solution for energy reduction and renewable energy production as well as a customised and tailor-made solution, will be promoted more widely to gain feedback and adapt/optimize the offer to specific customer groups. This is a main target of the next project period.
2. The BRICKER project offers substantial exploitable results packages with a strong potential to be exploited on the market. Key elements are the technologies of the active and the passive solution, which can be offered as single technologies, combined or complemented with the BRICKER pre-investment analysis, as well as the simulation and feasibility analysis.
3. Overall, the packages proved to be suitable for commercialisation: BRICKER could be com-mercially exploited within different ESCO models, which have been identified as fitting busi-ness models. Possible ESCO business models are: Energy Performance Contracting (EPC), En-ergy Supply Contracting (ESC) and a combination of the two, the so-called Integrated Energy Contracting (IEC).
4. At current stage, the costs for clients for the installation of BRICKER are too high compared to alternative solutions as processes for installation are not very standardised yet. Neverthe-less, re-calculating the costs at possible industrial market prices proves that BRICKER can compete with alternative solutions.
5. An analysis of several European target markets (Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Turkey) proved that most of the financial instruments helped to reduce the payback period or con-tract duration for the BRICKER clients within different business cases in which BRICKER tech-nologies are offered at industrial market prices.
6. The payback period very much depends on the building size, user behaviour and available fi-nancial subsidies, however, although the payback time is sometime very long, the CO2 reduc-tion is very good.
7. A definite forecast of the financial success or development is difficult indicate, as it depends on several market, country, regional and building-related factors and parameters (e.g. coun-try-specific staff costs, different energy prices across a country, availability of biomass).
Potential Impact:
According to the lessons learnt during the project, the exploitation of a BRICKER trigeneration system is maximized in scenarios with high and constant electrical and thermal demand (preferably 24h, 365 days operation), for ensuring the biggest savings and reducing the payback period of the investment. Therefore, the most interesting subsectors for BRICKER replication are hospitals and hotels, which indeed present also the highest energy consumption intensity (up to 300-400 kWh/m2). In addition, public authorities can deploy BRICKER system in their buildings covering also the thermal demand of surrounding residential buildings, acting as energy nodes and providing a renewable district heat-ing/cooling system to their communities.
For achieving these goals, BRICKER retrofitting solution provides flexibility and adaptability that ena-ble its replication potential. From open spaces as university campuses or large roofs where solar fields can be deployed to dense urban areas where biomass boilers comprise the renewable source for the BRICKER trigeneration system; from global envelope retrofitting of regular buildings to non-invasive methods as PCM and aerating windows for our cultural heritage buildings.
In conclusion, public buildings are expected to set an example for society and the construction sec-tor, acting as lighthouse of the European directives. In fact, the BRICKER solution goes beyond its big energy savings (up to 50%), but promoting the transition from conventional to renewable energy sources and reducing CO2 emissions dramatically, adding value to the buildings in social, environ-mental and economic terms. In this terms, the BRICKER concept it is aligned with EC 2020 climate and energy package’s objectives, while it contribute to reduce EU dependence on fossil fuels from non-member countries.
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Juan de las Cuevas