CORDIS - EU research results

Superior Performing Buildings (SuPerB) through colaborative Building Life Cycle Performance Opitimisation

Final Report Summary - SUPERB (Superior Performing Buildings (SuPerB) through colaborative Building Life Cycle Performance Opitimisation)

This project stems from the need for commercial buildings to consume significantly less energy during operation than is typical today. Buildings consumed 41% of total source energy in Europe in 2010, accounting for approximately 40% of EU CO2 emissions. Globally and within the EU, the vast majority of buildings operate 20-30% inefficiently when compared with ideal benchmark performance. This offers a substantial challenge given that there are approximately 1.1 million commercial buildings in 24 European countries surveyed in 2011 and 80% of these buildings will be in use in 2050. Substantial barriers to achieving the optimum energy operation of buildings are the lack of interoperability among deployed information systems in the Architectural/Engineering /Construction/Facilities Management (AEC/FM) domain and a noted disconnection between design intent and actual operation of both existing and new buildings.

This project developed and demonstrated novel methods and a prototype implementation, called Performance Framework Platform (PFP), that enables easily accessible web-based interoperable data exchange among all relevant project stakeholders. This information is used to generate optimum dynamic performance benchmarks and deliver optimum building operation through novel analytics for buildings.

The main contributions, both theoretical and implementation, of the project are the following:

1. A novel interoperable and collaborative design/retrofit design methodology for the explicit purpose of qualitative and quantitative life-cycle performance analysis by multiple project stakeholders, i.e. ensure collaborative design/retrofit design outputs are available for building managers during operation. A core element focuses on a performance-specification ontology for buildings. These novel developments enable dynamic performance and checking over the entire building life cycle.
2. An interoperable environment for building performance analysis based on semantic web data formats (i.e. common data formats for the World Wide Web, primarily Resource Description Framework (RDF)) that provide a homogenous easily accessible data format for currently disconnected silos of information in buildings including Building Information Models (BIM). This novel environment exposes organisational and building data for the purposes of in-depth building performance analysis. This new approach was extended as part of the Horizon 2020 NewTREND project (;
3. A new life-cycle analytics methodology to process and mine available “Big Data” in buildings, i.e. large volumes of time-series data in the form of benchmarks generated by predictive building performance simulation models and actual performance measured by building instrumentation. This dramatically expedites performance analysis in buildings compared with contemporary bespoke solutions;
4. Evaluate the proposed methodology on a design or design retrofit case that contains relevant predicted and measured data during building operation.

The outcomes of this research are manifold: 1) a BLC performance optimisation methodology and process that use interoperable semantic web technologies and 2) new analytical techniques for working with large volumes of data produced over the BLC, particularly during operation. This solution can be leveraged by all stakeholders in a particular design or retrofit design project but if of most benefit to building managers during operation. The approach is scalable and has also been shown to be applicable at neighbourhood or district levels (through collaboration with other researchers). The outputs from the sensitivity analysis components of this project have been communicated, in person and in writing, to policy makers in the area of energy efficient building renovation.

Overall, this project was instrumental in enabling the funded PI to acquire a tenured academic position at University College Dublin, Ireland. This permanent position was realised 3 years into a 5 year fixed term contract. Over the course of the SuPerB project, the fellow has leveraged his role to build a research team that currently stands at 2 Postdoctoral Scholars and 6 PhD students. Three other full-time Post Doctoral Scholars have progressed to other roles, two of whom now have permanent academic positions of their own at the University of Limerick, Ireland and Hubei University respectively.
The fellow has been awarded a number of projects which have been funded through Horizon 2020, Science Foundation Ireland (as funded investigator), Enterprise Ireland and an Industry partner, a PhD Scholarship from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a PhD Scholarship from CNPq Brazil (the Brazilian ministry of science and technology).

The development of the project has contributed, either directly or in combination with other projects, to the publication of 1 Book, 9 journal papers (3 additional papers are currently under review), 8 conference papers (2 of which were awarded best student paper), 4 ME Theses and 2 PhD thesis (both PhD theses will submit in 2018). Two Postdoctoral scholars also contributed to the SuPerB project.

The project also enabled the research team to significantly engage in and significantly contribute to IEA Annex 60 New generation computational tools for building and community energy systems based on the Modelica and Functional Mockup Interface standards’ ( from 2012-2017) and the follow-on project IBPSA Project 1 which significantly develops data and energy modelling technologies for the built environment ( from 2017-2022).

Key dissemination activities included a number of conference presentations, a series of lectures to a visiting class of French undergraduate engineers, a key presentation to our industry partners at the Electricity Research Centre annual vent and an invited speaker presentation at The 8th International Conference on Sustainable Development in Building and Environment (SuDBE 2017) in Chongqing, China.

Project details can be found at , please contact James O’Donnell ( for further information.