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Data-driven decision-support to increase energy efficiency through renovation in European building stock.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EERAdata (Data-driven decision-support to increase energy efficiency through renovation in European building stock.)

Reporting period: 2019-07-01 to 2020-12-31

Energy efficiency in the building sector is a core element of the European Union member states to be able to deliver on their Paris Agreement commitments. While energy standards for new constructions are gradually being raised, around 75% of the existing buildings deliver a poor energy performance, have questionable built quality, outdated building services as well as inadequate indoor environment. While the energy cost-saving effects through EE investments have been the subject of extensive research, the direct and indirect effects on society, environment and the economy are less defined and publicly acknowledged.

EERAdata demonstrates the wide range of benefits for the society, economy and the environment that building energy efficiency can achieve when implemented on a large scale and with a high sustainable standard. These long-term impacts, which are quantified and communicated to local decision-makers, can be sorted into the three pillars of sustainability:

Society: By reducing energy consumption, improving indoor climate, and increasing quality standards, significant benefits in health, well-being, built quality, outdoor air pollution, interior, and aesthetical perception can be generated.
Environment: 40% of all energy and material consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions in the European Union arise in private and public buildings. Buildings emit particulate matter, use land, water, etc. to be built, operated, and deconstructed. Making the energy efficiency first principle operational will reduce the impacts buildings have on the environment.
Economy: The construction sector provides 18 million direct jobs in the member states of the European Union and contributes to about 9% of the EU's GDP. Up to 95% of construction, and architecture firms are small and medium-sized enterprises which are mainly located in municipalities and regions that EERAdata is focusing on. The public investment in EE in buildings can be a significant stimulus for the local economy and increase innovation and knowledge within companies.

The EERAdata projects main objective therefore is to contribute to the understanding and operationalisation of the Energy Efficiency First Principle by developing a methodology and a software tool to holistically assess the impact and multiple benefits of EE investment in the building stock on a social, economic, and environmental scale. It will furthermore expand existing decision-making processes and policies and improve building energy efficiency projects.
Since the project start in July 2019 the consortium has taken a big step to achieve these goals.
Starting with an extensive online survey with over 129 questions, several interviews, and bilateral workshops with the implementing partners, a broad overview over the availability of building stock and social data, existing EE policies and processes could be investigated. This provided a profound base for methodology development.

The science team developed 5 interconnected assessment modules, which assess and quantify the multiple benefits that are induced by building energy efficiency. Their outputs can directly support decision making processes with enhanced information on the socio-economic and environmental effects of building improvements. The modelling takes place in the areas: energy consumption, life-cycle assessment, indoor-climate assessment, socio-economic assessment, supply-side infrastructure.

The transfer of these modules into the geo-referencing analytical application is ongoing and will be finished in early 2021. So far around 100 parameters and indicators from 4 assessment modules have been integrated, which are currently populated with scientific data as well as real, location and building specific data from the practical partners. Around 70% of the methodology and 60% of the tool are finalised and an early prototype is soon to be deployed.

In parallel the team designed two databases which merge data from the real building stock of the practical partners, Copenhagen, Velenje and the Region of Andalusia on the one hand and on the other hand a scientific and statistical knowledge base, compensating for potential data gaps and modelling needs. Framed by the Data management plan, the consortium has defined around 189 parameters (e.g. building characteristics, building technology, weather data, occupant data, demographics, etc.), which almost represents the full set of variables which are needed for the calculations within all modules.

The goal to create a hands-on solution, useful for the end-user, which can be integrated into existing municipal and regional processes demands extensive stakeholder empowerment. The project team established three regional networks for testing and validation to see the functionality of the tool in different environments, with new data and challenges.

In March 2020, due to COVID-19, some project workflows hat to be changed into an agile, iterative progress which improved the quality and depth of the models but slowed down the overall progress within the work packages. Physical meetings have been moved to a fully online collaboration. Since then, two stakeholder events, including a DST workshop have been conducted online.

Since the early phases of the project, the consortium focused on a comprehensive communication and dissemination strategy. In September 2019, the project website was created. The project is visibly active on social media and EERAdata findings are distributed on Twitter and LinkedIn. EERAdata published its first video on Vimeo in M7 and a webinar on the newly established YouTube channel. A core element of the dissemination strategy of EERAdata is the newsletter, which is sent out to the project partners and the stakeholder and media list regularly. In December 2020, the consortium has benefited from the EC’s Exploitation Booster Service and participated in a two-day workshop to elaborate on the key exploitable results of the project.
EERAdata progresses beyond the state of the art by being the first project that is combining the socio-economic, environmental, and economic assessment of energy efficiency impacts on building level in one decision support tool, tailored to the specific needs of municipalities and regions. The methodology and data collection processes consolidate the evidence of the multiple benefits of EE investments in buildings while providing a way to make this evidence meaningful and accessible to regional and municipal authorities involved in the delivery of EE projects.

Other than existing databases or studies, EERAdata is focusing on the on-site challenges and issues and combine the user-data and needs with knowledge and models from scientific sources. It raises awareness of the multiple benefits and effects of EE from single buildings to multiple entities and serves as a tool, even for smaller municipalities, to provide the right arguments to create sustainable long-term strategies and scenarios for their building stock.

The project benefits from having the future users within the developing team, accompanying every step in the design, and assuring that the outcome can be integrated into the everyday processes and tasks of a municipality or region. EERAdata thus provides a cost -effective bottom-up approach to integrate the goals of directives like the EPBD or EED directly into practice, even before they become national law or regulation.
Figure 1: the overall objectives of EERAdata
Figure 2: the five assessment modules of the EERAdata decision-support tool
Figure 3: the two EERAdata data collection streams