Energy Solutions for Smart Cities and Communities

  • 1. Introduction

 EU The Strategic Relevance of Smart Energy Communities

There is widespread consensus that consequences of climate change such as sea level rises, melting of glaciers and more frequent extreme weather events, including heavy rainfalls and drought periods, pose risks to business and livelihoods not only in Europe but worldwide. In the attempt to curtail global temperature increases a number of emission reduction targets have been set by the EU, which at the same time have the potential to improve energy security. Energy efficiency in particular is also seen as an important aspect for safeguarding competitiveness of EU-industry in the longer term. With that in mind, the EU has committed itself to cutting emissions by 2020 to 20 % below 1990 levels, to increase the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption to 20 %, and to achieve a 20 % increase in energy efficiency. For 2050, EU leaders have endorsed the target of reducing Europe’s greenhouse emission emissions by 80-95 in comparison to 1990 levels.

The forthcoming 2030 targets are intended to support these.

Furthermore, the European Commission has published a roadmap for shaping the low-carbon European economy required for these goals, and thus defining a pathway for an EU-wide transition to a sustainable energy system. This emphasis on sustainability and climate change mitigation has shifted in 2013, towards greater emphasis of cheap energy and competitiveness. However, in the long term, we can only achieve the targets above with energy efficiency – the more energyefficient we are, the less it matters what the cost of energy is. 

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Aim, Approach and Structure of this Study

The aim of this reference study is to provide contributions and recommendations for the development of proposals for future European Union policy regarding the energy efficiency in buildings, urban development and smart energy communities/ cities in general. It is designed as a reference manual on key findings from CONCERTO and supplemented by recommendations based on these. Target groups for the study are the European Commission, as well as national and local decision makers

  • Energy Performance, Calculations & Regulations

projects are first and foremost built-environment projects, meaning that these projects had to interact with, and were dependent on, building regulations in force in their respective countries at the time. Insights gained from the analysis of these projects can help improve relevant policies and regulation regarding various aspects of energy performance.

What is a Smart City? Definition from
  •  Contributions to Building Regulations under CONCERTO

As the first round of CONCERTO projects already started in 2005, with proposals dating back to 2003, they had to deal with building regulations that in some cases were only starting to take on board requirements for energy performance and renewable energy at that time. However, there are some examples how CONCERTO projects, or individuals involved in them, helped to update these regulations. The projects have allowed the identification of weaknesses in national regulations and helped to evolve these.

For example, project activities in Zaragoza (ES) identified that it is important to revise some parts of the Construction Energy Code, notably on energy-related optimisation of building design and ventilation systems. In North Tipperary (IR) and in Salzburg (AT), CONCERTO activities helped to spot inaccuracies in energy performance calculation methodologies and helped to improve these. Inspired by CONCERTO, the Geneva Canton adopted a new energy law in 2010, published with a new definition of a territorial energy concept. This law introduced that several elements of the CONCERTO experience. It responded to the need to organize the interaction between institutional, professional and economic stakeholders in relation to the given environment and to enhance awareness towards Geneva’s goal of the ‘2000 watt society without nuclear’. Its aims are

– To lower energy requirements by introducing higher performance criteria in buildings and to increase the use of RES technologies

– To make an energy audit mandatory before refurbishment activities and before the installation of solar thermal technologies during major roof refurbishment work

– To develop more effective infrastructure and equipment for energy production and distribution.

– To evaluate the local availability and to use the local potential of RES

  • Defining Good Practice in Building Regulations

One of the challenges of assessing construction projects across national borders is that building regulations are different between countries, both in content and in the way they are defined and reinforced – i.e. at local, regional or national level. Comparing their contents and inherent performance levels internationally is complex, for reasons further explained in Sections 2.5 ff. The recent study of the Global Buildings Performance Network (GBPN) of energy in international building regulations, using their “Policy Comparative Tool,”1 is therefore unique and valuable. As part of it, international experts found that the most important criteria for effective energy-related building regulations are: presence of a performancebased approach, inclusion of all types of energy consumption, high energy performance and use of passive/active renewable energy. They also include: zero energy targets, regular and frequent revision cycles, levels of encouragement to go beyond that the minimum standard, good enforcement like, policy packages and certification that support regulations, efficiency requirements on the building shell, requirements for commissioning of technical systems and requirements to include RES.

The study acknowledged that many of the more successful energy efficiency regulations of those studied came from within Europe. The following further findings are also worth highlighting:

– Some regulations did not include requirements for domestic hot water systems, appliances, pumps and fans.

– Due to mandatory renewable energy requirements for most new buildings, France and Ireland obtained full marks on the criteria of including renewable energy, followed by Germany and Spain, with extra credits to France for its bio-climatic design (adaptation to local climate).

– None of the regulations were found to have good standards of independent and robust compliance monitoring, but Sweden scored highest on enforcement due to post occupancy energy verification.

– Proper commissioning of technical building services systems was also found as important in Europe, with Austria, Denmark and Sweden scoring best

  • Moving Building Regulations Forward

In order to compile and assess the results of the 58 CONCERTO sites, their context within the respective national building regulations had to be considered and coordinators were asked a set of questions regarding regulations in their country or region. Together with the analysis of EU requirements, this pointed towards certain areas that could be developed further and which are more specific than those highlighted in namely: As international comparability of standards that, Nearly-Zero-Energy-Buildings, plug-in appliances/ non-regulated electricity use, rising cooling demand and monitoring & data availability. Further improvement potential may lie in including embodied energy.

  • Tackling International Comparability of Energy Standards

The EPBD 2 acknowledges the need for common and comparable standards – it states specifically: “This directive that lays down the requirements : (a) the common general framework for a strategy for calculating the integrated energy performance of buildings and building units;…. (Art.3) Member States shall apply a methodology for calculating the energy performance of buildings in accordance with the common general framework began in Annex I” “The Parties shall,  relevant sectors, that has scheme for the energy performance of nonresidential buildings.

− Annex I sets primary energy because the common metric to be used. Comparing energy performance values across countries has always been, and remains , problematic. However, comparing these requirements is highly desirable for a number of stakeholders, for example landlords and investors with international property portfolios, suppliers to the building trade, the EU and individual member states, who want to compare how well they are doing in comparison to their neighbours and last but not least, members of the scientific community. In order for Member States to learn from each other and ultimately reduce emissions to the best possible level, better comparability would be highly desirable.

  • Public Buildings as Trailblazers for Smarter Cities


The total volume of public spending is equivalent to 19 % of the European Union’s gross domestic product and public buildings represent about 12 % of total built floor area. For this reason, the public sector constitutes an important driving force for stimulating market transformation towards more efficient products, buildings and services, as well as for triggering behavioural changes in the energy consumption of citizens and enterprises. Furthermore, decreasing energy consumption through energy efficiency improvement measures can release public resources for other purposes. Many CONCERTO projects therefore included public buildings. Due to their pivotal role, this entire chapter is dedicated to them. `Public buildings´ is a term either used for buildings owned by the public sector or for buildings that are highly frequented by the public. This chapter refers mainly to the first definition, but does not exclude the second. In fact, it is important to expand the potential of all buildings that interact with the public to showcase better, more energy-aware building practices.

  • Smarter Education Buildings for Every Age

A considerable part of public buildings have educational uses. This starts with day-care centres for infants through to kindergartens or preschools, primary schools, secondary schools and colleges, continuing through to universities and other forms of adult education. Common to such buildings is their high requirement for temperature regulation and fresh air supply. Additionally, it is important that they have good acoustic comfort to guarantee an effective learning environment. At the same time, protection from dangerous or toxic materials is rated particularly high in schools and kindergartens due to the higher sensitivity of children to these.

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