Modelling Optimization of Energy Efficiency in Buildings for Urban Sustainability

MOEEBIUS introduces a Holistic Energy Performance Optimization Framework that enhances current modelling approaches and delivers innovative simulation tools which deeply grasp and describe real-life building operation complexities in accurate simulation predictions that significantly reduce the “performance gap” and enhance multi-fold, continuous optimization of building energy performance as a means to further mitigate and reduce the identified “performance gap” in real-time or through retrofitting.

 


MOEEBIUS project is an answer to H2020-EeB-2015 call in the topic: New tools and methodologies to reduce the gap between predicted and actual energy performances at the level of buildings and blocks of buildings


The project Consortium involves 15 Partners representing research institutions, ESCOs, SMEs, universities, public bodies from 10 countries.

MOEEBIUS introduces a Holistic Energy Performance Optimization Framework that enhances current (passive and active building elements) modelling approaches and delivers innovative simulation tools which deeply grasp and describe real-life building operation complexities in accurate simulation predictions that significantly reduce the “performance gap” and enhance multi-fold, continuous optimization of building energy performance as a means to further mitigate and reduce the identified “performance gap” in real-time or through retrofitting.

MOEEBIUS project goal is to minimize the Performance Gap.

With the increasing demand for more energy efficient buildings, the construction and energy services industries are faced with the challenge to ensure that the energy performance and savings predicted during energy efficiency measures definition is actually achieved during operation. There is, however, significant evidence to suggest that buildings underperform illustrating a, so called, “performance gap” which is attributed to a variety of causal factors related to both predicted and in-use performance, implying that predictions tend to be unrealistically low whilst actual energy performance is usually unnecessarily high.

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Figure 1: Performance Gap in different types of Buildings

Post-Occupancy Evaluation studies in built and occupied buildings have demonstrated huge gaps between predicted and actual energy consumption. The magnitude and diversity of identified performance gaps highlights the need for deeper understanding of critical underlying performance factors related to the behavior of occupants as well as other major building active elements.

Studies and analyses conducted by renowned organizations and think tanks have repeatedly stressed the importance of energy efficiency as well as the limitations and challenges faced by Energy Performance Contracting (EPC). Top-level policy makers and regulators (e.g. the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive) also pinpoint that developing the energy services market remains one of the top demand side initiatives.

In more detail, the performance gap generates a consequent gap between payback estimates and techno-commercial Return-On-Investment calculations in ESCO (Energy Service Company) projects.

Customer expectations are based on previous energy audits which typically use simplistic and inaccurate calculations to show acceptable paybacks of 2-5 years using low-cost interventions; a situation that imposes significant risks for the implementation of “paid from savings” contracts by ESCOs. In turn ESCOs are forced to add installation and commissioning services, project management, man effort, measurement and verification (M&V) costs to hedge the risks induced by prediction uncertainty and inaccuracy. The duration until break-even typically doubles compared to the simple payback calculation that many customers start out with. What is more, current ESCO practices (that are based on an “one size fits all” approach) introduce additional risks, rendering EPC contracts totally unattractive, even in cases where the ESCO takes over the full implementation of a refurbishment project (from auditing to design and implementation), . This is undoubtedly due to the lack of a “magic formula” that accurately captures the dynamic aspects of building operations, a fact which by itself constitutes a significant barrier to the development of the ESCO market. Even in more promising areas for EPC contracting, like critical facilities (e.g. manufacturing, data centers, laboratories or clean rooms, industrial facilities involving specialized processes, etc.), where energy costs are significantly higher and facilities owners are willing to remunerate ESCOs accordingly, a very high service standard is typically expected (considering also the preservation of health and comfort in the building environment) and may include stringent liability clauses in case things do not go as planned. This introduces extra risks for ESCOs and significantly reduces their profit margins, in the absence of specialized methods and tools that can provide the accuracy and/or the management of deviations required for the satisfaction of the “paid from savings’ contract clauses.

The overall problem (performance gap) could be basically interpreted as an inability of current modelling techniques to represent realistic use and operation of buildings. Even the most detailed modelling and simulation programs still contain many simplifying assumptions, which can lead to significant energy deviations between prediction and real consumption. In fact, current simulation tools do not accurately incorporate the impact of occupants’ behavior on the energy performance of buildings. This is usually attributed to the use of inadequate assumptions made about occupancy behavior, which is highly varied and unpredictable. This inevitably leads to significant uncertainties in energy predictions.

MEEOBIUS will develop solutions that will enable the minimization of the aforementioned “Performance gap” and promote the enhancement of customer confidence in EPC effectiveness and ESCOs ability to guarantee results and mutually agree with customers on savings targets, thus reducing business risks that have hindered the growth of the ESCO market, especially at EU level.

Read about MOEEBIUS objectives and solutions.

 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

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EU  This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 680517.