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intelligent Building Energy Assets Control for Comfort, Energy and Flexibility Optimisation

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - iBECOME (intelligent Building Energy Assets Control for Comfort, Energy and Flexibility Optimisation)

Reporting period: 2020-06-01 to 2021-11-30

It is well known that the majority if the existing EU building stock is inefficient with respect to its energy performance. There are many small to medium sized buildings that do not have a Building Automation System (BAS) to enable more efficient management and control of energy use. Also larger buildings that do have BAS, such as Building Management Systems (BMS), are underperforming due to a lack of knowledge of how to control the BMS on a day to day basis and a limited of access to the data. All of these slow down the adoption of the new emerging services in the areas of energy management, optimisation and demand response. However, in the recent years there has been a fast evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the accelerating penetration of smart meters and smart thermostats that enables the low-cost installation of the hardware components of a BMS in every type of building and facility.

iBECOME aims to demonstrate the functionality and viability (technical and economical) of a virtual BMS platform (vBMS) deployed as a software solution to a building that can optimise the energy performance, comfort conditions, wellness and electricity flexibility potential of buildings and facilities, while allowing 3rd parties to interconnect for providing other energy or non-energy related services. The demonstration will take place in 4 types of buildings, under various conditions and climatic zones. The backbone of the vBMS is a 3D digital twin, an accurate replica of the real operation of a building, built upon static and monitoring data from the building, while utilising physics based energy simulations, combined with Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The main objectives of iBECOME for the realisation of its ambition include the definition of virtual sensors for thermal, visual comfort and air quality, calculated by simulations and artificial intelligence, to replace the need of expensive equipment installations on a building. Additionally, all the technical, engineering and cybersecurity specifications related to the deployment of the vBMS will be determined, to allow the smooth operation in any kind of building. The services of the vBMS will be developed including intelligent solutions for Fault Detection and Diagnosis (FDD), Predictive Control, and Demand Response (DR). Side-by-side with the technological advancements of the project, new business models will be developed together with their legal and business requirements, including the data privacy and collaboration of different actors such as ESCOs, Facility managers, building owners etc. The proposed business models are created in the concept that all upfront investments will be paid back through the revenue generated from energy savings and demand response services. The functionality of the operational business models will also be demonstrated, together with the effectiveness of essential retrofits to maximise the benefits of the vBMS in energy efficiency and CO2 reduction.
During the first eighteen months, the activities within iBECOME project were mainly focused on the following points:

The virtual sensors for thermal visual comfort and air quality have been determined based on literature review, and calculation models defined, tested in real conditions, and found more accurate comparing to standard methods. Similarly, algorithms to determine the flexibility potential, have been trained and trialed. Both were enabled by the achievement to run lightweight physics-based simulations on the cloud, and combine them with modern data analytics and forecasting.

The building’s digital twin preparation, which requires expert energy modelers and much manual effort is now automated. The automation will allow the digital twin to be used for near real time predictions and feed in the virtual BMS services with accurate predictions for the next day conditions.

Additionally, the software architecture of the vBMS has been specified and tested. The two-way connections between the various pieces of software, existing and new have been specified, including software connections, data flows, granularity and hardware requirements.

The iBECOME services have been tested and proven in concept using datasets generated by physics simulation models of selected case studies. For example, for Predictive Control of a heating thermostat, the Deep Reinforcement Learning technology (DRL) has been used, as a promising technology that can perform accurate and lightweight control, and learn fast from the building use and big data received form the hardware. To trial the use of energy data for non-energy services, 3 services are specified and now being developed.

So far, the energy models of the two retrofitted demo sites have been calibrated and are almost ready for use as digital twins. In parallel, survey is prepared and will be shared with the building occupants and managers for engagement.

Finally, all the business model prerequisites have been studied, including standards, legal and business requirements for data privacy and security and the collaboration between ESCOs, aggregators and vendors, financiers, owners and operators and 3rd party service providers.
The ambition of iBECOME is to demonstrate intelligent software solutions that can bring substantial benefits to our buildings and our society. Considering that there is a 4th industrial revolution with Internet of Things as the key enabling technology, iBECOME is aiming to introduce a two-way communication with the smart equipment of a building to primarily reduce energy use and carbon emissions, as well as improving comfort and wellbeing of its occupants.

The new business models foreseen will allow the monetisation of energy savings and re-investment into purchasing more equipment and deploying more iBECOME services.

iBECOME solution can be deployed in any type of building, with any type of existing equipment related to energy management. Even if the building doesn’t include any equipment, the basic services can be offered with just a smart meter and a smart thermostat that can be purchased and installed with minimum capital cost.

By the end of the project, the iBECOME solution will be able to offer:

1. Modelling of every possible scenario of changes/interventions at the building, enabling continuous optimisation of operation and performance and informing decision-making in energy upgrade design.

2. Accurately calculate and produce huge amounts of big-data output both in time and space resolution and number of variables to optimise comfort and flexibility and enable spin-off 3rd party services.

3. Calculate all the different variables and metrics required by certification schemes like BREEAM, LEED, BER, SRI, WELL.

4. Offer user-friendly dashboards and command centre for its users, primarily for facility managers with experience in utilising the benefits that the iBECOME solution can bring

iBECOME is expected to contribute in reducing primary energy use of buildings, trigger sustainable energy investments and improve the viability of innovative energy services by demonstrating the benefits, reliability and trustworthiness and reduced payback times comparing to similar solutions. Also 3rd parties can make use the big data generated and offer additional services. It will also improve comfort and wellness of occupants, which is important also in the post pandemic era.
iBECOME virtual Building Management Systems (vBMS)