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Achieving near Zero and Positive Energy Settlements in Europe using Advanced Energy Technology

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - ZERO-PLUS (Achieving near Zero and Positive Energy Settlements in Europe using Advanced Energy Technology)

Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2020-12-31

The ZERO-PLUS project has developed a method and accompanying tools to provide an overarching solution to the barriers to successful construction of new residential Net Zero Energy Settlements (NZES). Focusing on the settlement-level instead of on single buildings, this approach aims to bring together technology suppliers, energy efficiency and renewable energy experts and developers who work together from the earliest stages of project conception to optimise the NZES design. Application of the approach ensures achievement of cost, energy use and renewable energy production targets. The targets to be achieved can be adjusted as needed for specific cases.
The added-value of the ZERO-PLUS approach lies in the cost effectiveness of the construction process, thanks to the application of an integrated approach to building design, and the optimisation of the energy load for each building by designing the energy generation system at the settlement level. The detailed benefits are summarised as follows:
• Increased efficiency through the application of communal energy production and management technologies
• Improved microclimate conditions through urban design solutions, leading to a reduction in energy demand and CO2 emissions
• Optimal energy production through a proper technology design and integration at settlement scale
• Economies of scale, leading to opportunities for lower initial investment costs
• Selection of cost-optimal combination and size of technologies
• Access to the expertise required for the design, construction and maintenance of innovative building and settlement design solutions
• Enhanced building performance for the end users
The diagram below illustrates the ZERO-PLUS concept for Net Zero Energy Settlement design and construction. At the top of the diagram, in grey, we show the toolkit developed. In the body of the diagram we show the main steps of this approach to design, construction and occupancy. Arrows between the steps show the linkages between the steps.
Real-life demonstrations: The ZERO-PLUS approach was successfully implements in four case studies (France, UK, Italy, Cyprus). Rigorous monitoring provided the data necessary for the evaluation of the actual energy and environmental performance of the settlements and validation of the feasibility and effectiveness of the approach.
Tools and methods: A number of tools and methods for the design, construction and monitoring of NZE settlements was developed that have the potential to be further developed and exploited in future projects including:
• Tool for simulation of energy technologies and renewable systems at NZE settlement scale
• Methodology for the assessment of influence of microclimate mitigation at settlement level on building energy performance
• A simplified environmental impact analysis
• Cost reduction assessment methodology
• Design optimization tool for minimizing the initial and life cycle costs
• Cost control and change control tools
• Commissioning planning
• A thorough Measurement and Verification (M&V) Plan for NZE Settlements
• Post-Occupancy Evaluation protocol
• Web-GIS monitoring platform handling all performance related data of the buildings and settlements
• Problem Identification Protocol
All of the tools and methods are described in a dedicated public Guidebook for designing NZE settlements in Europe along with a description of the ZERO-PLUS approach and the technology selection process. The broad field of expertise that project partners have (research partners, case study owners and technology providers) has been reflected in the guidebook thus making the guidelines applicable and usable by a large field of stakeholders (e.g. construction industry, SMEs, academia etc).
Sample business plan: A sample business plan describing the most promising exploitation strategy for the combined ZERO-PLUS solution (as opposed to individual technologies) has been developed. This business plan provides a starting point for companies planning to exploit the project’s outputs to expand their participation in the market for new residential Net Zero Energy Settlements (NZES) and thus replicate at a larger scale the implementation of the ZERO-PLUS tools and methodology.
TRL increase of individual technologies and market uptake: While exploitation of the innovative technologies integrated in some of the case studies would happen even without the project, ZERO-PLUS helped accelerate their development to higher technology readiness levels through their implementation in operational environments. freescoo HVAC moved from TRL 7 to 8 (implemented in Cyprus), FAE HCPV moved from TRL 6/7 to 7/8 (implemented in Cyprus) while the MRECO5 moved from TRL 6 to 8 (implemented in France).
Knowledge and skills: The project demonstrated the feasibility of the ZERO-PLUS approach through its implementation and provided the construction companies with new skills, capabilities, and expertise to be reused in future projects and to expand their existing market.
Peer-reviewed publications: The results of the research undertaken in the project published in peer reviewed research will enable other researchers to build on this work, thus contributing to market uptake of NZE settlements. Until the end of the project more than 20 peer-reviewed research papers research papers had been published.
The realized ZERO-PLUS buildings exceed the state of the art by achieving:
• Net regulated energy usage ≤ 0-20 kWh/m²/y
• Renewable energy generation ≥ 50 kWh/m²/y
• 16% reduced investment cost compared to a regular NZEB
and result in a total of 46.3tonnes of CO2 offset corresponding to104.6 kgrCO2/m2/y saved.
The four case studies demonstrate that storage for supplemental renewable energy generation is essential for increasing self-consumption of renewable energy in all locations and for shifting the load to meet peak demand.
Post-Occupancy Evaluation analysis confirmed the high quality of the case studies’ design, detailing and construction. In particular, it showed high satisfaction with individual parameters (ventilation, temperature, noise, lighting, odours) and overall satisfaction with the buildings. Thermal and acoustic advantages of building envelopes, and lighting were praised in a number of occasions. Implemented renewable energy systems were indicated as one of the reasons for changing behavioral patterns. Building users indicated preference to operate windows and doors in order to achieve thermal comfort and improve Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) before operating HVAC.
The tools and methods tailored to the settlement level comprising the ZERO-PLUS approach, the acceptable as-built results and the developed methodology for the transition from building to settlement level successfully support the transferability and replicability of the ZERO-PLUS approach in different contexts, namely:
• retrofit of existing settlements
• additional uses (e.g. schools, office buildings, etc.). In fact, expansion to include additional uses is likely to make the approach even more effective given the larger scale of many such buildings, and the fact that they are often located within campuses in which settlement-level solutions could be more easily applied
• different building types – both public and private housing, single and multi-unit housing –
• different climatic regions with different heating and cooling requirements.
The ZERO-PLUS completed case studies
The ZERO-PLUS approach