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Climate and cultural based design and market valuable technology solutions for Plus Energy Houses

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CULTURAL-E (Climate and cultural based design and market valuable technology solutions for Plus Energy Houses)

Reporting period: 2021-04-01 to 2022-03-31

The uptake of Plus Energy Buildings (PEBs) represents a key step towards the decarbonization of the building stock as presents the potential to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the surrounding energy system. However, the concept of “Positive Energy Building" needs to be refined and consolidated.
The Cultural-E project aims to define modular and replicable solutions for PEBs, accounting for climate and cultural differences, while engaging all key players involved in the building life cycle, to create comfortable, efficient, and affordable indoor environments. Cultural-E develops technologies and solution-sets to address energy demand and solar energy harvesting as affected by local climate and socio-cultural contexts, to enable a comprehensive optimization of value/cost ratio of PEBs.
The specific objectives of the project are:
- To define cultural peculiarities related to European climates that strongly impact building energy consumption
- To define a framework for the performance evaluation of PEBs
- To develop climate and cultural tailored solution sets and technologies for PEBs
- To understand the variables that building users bring to buildings and provide interventions designed to shift energy using practices
- To identify and valuate the co-benefits (on top of financial benefits) from PEBs and proposed technologies
- To demonstrate the feasibility, reliability and replicability of technology solution sets
- To promote a favourable European “ecosystem of policies” for the realization of new PEBs
- To disseminate the project results and outputs to external stakeholders and market players
Sets of design-for-assembly technologies are being produced and driven by a careful mapping of European climates, building archetypes and cultural energy habits, going beyond the positive balance by maximizing the share of the demand covered by renewable sources (toward zero emissions in the operational phase). To increase the replicability of the solutions and the adoption of a “user-centric, cultural-driven” design, key market players involved in the PEB development are supported by dedicated tools and guidelines that will assist the development of robust and inclusive business models.
The European Cultural and Climate Atlas for Plus Energy Houses Design (2CAP-Energy Atlas) has been released and presented to a selected group of designers. The tool will be further promoted in order to provide value to designers, policy makers and researchers.
Four key technologies developed within the project will ensure the realisation of four PEBs demo-cases, namely: a Cloud-based House Management System, an Active Window System, a Smart Air Movement system for thermal comfort, a Packed Heat Pump for flexible and modular HVAC system. The mock-ups of these technologies are currently under development and testing. During the first half of the project, each demo-cases design started to specifically determine the integration of every technology in order to reach the PEB level. Exploitation of the technologies has started through a preliminary identification of their path to market.
The definition of PEB has been finalized establishing a synergy with sister projects and the EC. A peer-reviewed open access paper on the operational definition and assessment of PEBs has been published on the journal Energy and Buildings. Different solution sets to reach the PEB level have been proposed for each geo-cultural cluster and for low- and high-rise buildings considering also the marketability and the acceptance of the proposed solutions in each specific geo-cluster. The solution sets are combined with multi-system control strategies to exploit systems’ interaction and enhance building flexibility.
Various co-benefits of PEBs have been identified and range from the user’s wellbeing to the economic sector, the social and environmental sphere. Such co-benefits refer to two different levels, namely: i) household level, i.e. for the building owner or user like increased user comfort, fewer problems with building physics, improved maintenance, etc…; ii) community level, i.e. health benefits, decreased mortality or morbidity, job creation, energy security, impact on climate change, etc. A methodological framework to evaluate co-benefits in monetary terms is under development and will be tested in two different contexts. This will help the understanding, acceptance, promotion and spread of PEBs among the community.
The demonstration phase of the effectiveness of project results on four demo-cases located in Italy, France, Germany and Norway is in progress. The owners of the demo-cases worked in cooperation with the local demo-case working groups in order to finalize the design phase and start the procurement phase.
Dissemination activities reached the targeted stakeholders and have been carried out mainly online, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The project website is fully operative and gathers the research outputs of the project realised until now.
While Net Zero Energy Buildings have been widely demonstrated, PEBs are still considered pioneering projects for a few, given the high extra costs for both design and construction. In fact, these pioneer projects are the result of a complex design process leading to an effective combination of market available technologies and renewable energy generation systems. Cultural-E strives to increase the market uptake of PEBs by proposing measures to overcome these barriers. The project expected results include design tools, smart technologies, methodologies and policy recommendations:
- 2CAP-Energy Atlas
- Cloud-based house management system
- Smart Hybrid Ventilation System
- Smart air movement for thermal comfort
- Decentralized Packed Heat Pump system
- Ready to use co-benefits estimation and economical evaluation methods
- Eight climate and cultural tailored solution-sets for Plus Energy Houses
- Data visualization library for energy simulation aided design
- Policy recommendation to ease the erection of Plus Energy Houses
Cultural-E has significant innovation potential based on the demonstration of PEBs; with a clear potential for cost reduction, thanks to smart technologies; and for user acceptance, thanks to a comprehensive understanding of climate and culture related user habits. The project generates the following impacts:
- Similar costs in comparison to the nZEBs 2020 as an incentive to erect PEBs;
- Contribute to reducing CO2 emissions in the residential sector by 88% in 2050 compared to the 1990 levels;
- Improved indoor environment quality and user satisfaction;
- Increase of the share of PEBs with the view of 10% market uptake by 2030.
The project team defined a calculation framework for impact assessment at several domains, from real demo-cases to the analysis of replication potential at EU scale. Such impact calculation framework includes the evaluation of Project Performance Indicators based on four main data source typologies: energy performance simulations, life cycle cost and environmental analysis, monitoring campaigns and surveys/interview with users in the demo owners’ building portfolio. Furthermore, three different domains are considered: the demo cases domain, the demo owners’ building portfolio and the reference high-rise and low-rise residential buildings which will enable a Project Impact Indicators evaluation on a broader EU domain.