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As a key technology project partner on the iUrban project, we’re delighted and proud to announce that the city of Rijeka has received a Green Digital Charter award under the category ‘Promoting open and interoperable solutions’ for its implementation of iURBAN smart Decision Support System (DSS). This integrated, multilevel and scalable tool has been designed for cities’ administration to critically analyse energy consumption patterns and increase energy efficiency in public buildings.
The city of Rijeka was one of the two successful pilot projects for the project. Chosen for its strong history with ICT and its commitment to sustainability, the city is one of the first European cities that joined the European initiative “The Covenant of Mayors” in 2009. The initiative connects cities with goals to exchange experience in implementing effective measures to achieve sustainable development of the city through reduction greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
In 2010, among the first cities in Croatia, the City of Rijeka prepared its Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP), which anticipates 42 measures and activities aimed at reducing CO2 emission in three sectors: building, transport and public lighting. Pursuant to the analysis of the implementation of these measures we will achieve 32% reduction of CO2 till 2020.
To find out more about the city of Rijeka and the iURBAN project please visit http://www.iurban-project.eu/
Click here to read the news item on the iURBAN website.
The challenge isn’t proving the benefits of a smart city. It’s making the concept affordable for cities to implement.
Affordable Sustainability Solutions
Who wouldn’t want to live in a city where low energy costs, sustainable ways of living and great transport systems attract the best businesses, people and jobs? A city where physically integrating buildings with one another and with utilities increases the sense of community and makes everyone feel proud of their sustainability credentials, giving the city a unique sense of identity?
There are many reasons to make your city smart, and only one reason not to: the cost. That’s why we’re investing a third of our turnover into researching and developing solutions that allow the journey towards becoming a smart city to be taken one affordable step at a time.
Masterplans that take the lifecycle of the urban environment into account can enable city planners to affordably create Smart Communities, scaling up to Smart Cities. They can do this by taking control and setting sustainability targets that embed robust energy and environmental analysis at the core of this continuous lifecycle. By creating a joined up process that goes from masterplanning, through building design and retrofit, to building operation and control, and finally into the operation of a Smart Community.
Smart City Building Blocks
Building Data – For too long the design and maintenance of buildings have been kept separate. After a few decades, you might not even be able to access the plans. So much information is lost. By creating a city database capable of pulling together different file formats and filling in the gaps, we’re making building data accessible so that the right decisions can be made to optimise the buildings in a city at every stage of their life.
Energy Models – By creating 3D graphical models of how energy is being used across the city, we make it easy to see how the energy is flowing to flag up areas where more efficient ways of meeting or reducing demand need to be applied. By generating models capable of simulating the impact of the various solutions available, we can also predict which measures will have the most positive impact on the city.
Engaging Citizens to Change
Cities can’t make this happen alone. It won’t work if the citizen doesn’t feel involved. Not least because there’s a huge gap between creating the strategies and using and applying them correctly. Even the smartest sustainability features will fail to generate any savings if someone leaves a window open while the heating is on.
Citizens need to be educated about the benefits they can personally experience by using the city at its maximum capability. Typically they want to be helped to spend less or else can see the benefit of doing something more expensive to generate better savings in the long-term.
Economies of Scale for Individuals
As well as creating energy analysis tools for city planners, we’re also creating applications for citizens to see the final estimated savings on their energy bill if they join various participation schemes.
Supplier discounts – By showing individuals how much they could be saving by making their home more sustainable and grouping those prepared to invest in energy efficient windows, or solar panels, together, the city can secure a much better rate for 500 windows, or panels, than the citizen could get, making it much more affordable for them to improve their home.
Reduced energy tariffs – Energy is at its most expensive when it’s in most demand. By getting all the citizens in an area to agree to leave their heating on low in the winter, the city can prevent demand for gas from peaking in the morning to secure a better energy tariff. Similar schemes could encourage the use of timed appliances to prevent other energy peaks.
As well as educating and motivating citizens to reduce their energy consumption, another major benefit of smart city participation schemes is that it also encourages citizens to share data about their energy use, so that a working model of how energy is being used across the city can be created to inform other smart city initiatives.
Read more in IES – The Future of Energy Reduction.
The average car makes thousands of decisions a second on our behalf. Buildings, our most expensive assets, need to catch up.
Cars in the 1970s had very little technology. Today, the average car uses lasers, radars, stereo cameras, satellites and even windshield wiper detectors, to constantly figure out the best next course of action, making thousands of decisions per second on our behalf.
Our buildings have yet to move on. If it’s warm and sunny and the rooms starting to overheat, it might take about 20 minutes before you start to feel uncomfortable enough to get up and open a window. If you lived in a hot climate the air conditioning would automatically kick in. Only you don’t need air conditioning yet, just a little ventilation would do. This overuse of air-conditioning is generating £3.6bn of energy waste a year in the Gulf area of the Middle East alone.
There’s no reason – with today’s technological advances – why our building’s couldn’t continually monitor the room and work out the most energy-efficient thing to do to maximise comfort levels.
This isn’t the stuff of Science Fiction
Today, if a room needs ventilated, buildings can automatically open the windows. If the building detected the room was getting cold too quickly, it could automatically reduce the size of the window opening. If the natural ventilation isn’t enough to restore comfort levels, the building can close the window and activate the air conditioning: automatically controlling the airflow in the most energy-efficient way possible.
This isn’t the stuff of science fiction. We’ve developed satellite navigation and cars that can drive themselves. It’s time our buildings moved on.
A building isn’t a static object
Building’s are complex pieces of equipment. They have to keep us safe and secure, provide us with comfortable shelter from the elements, allow us to work, rest or play, keep ourselves clean and fed, and support our social interactions – all in ways that optimise our health and wellbeing.
One of the biggest misconceptions about buildings is the perception that they’re static objects. They might not move around like cars but they’re dynamic, ever-changing environments. Altering just one element, like the lighting, ventilation or use, can influence everything else. The sooner we recognise just how complex and dynamic our buildings are, the sooner we can justify utilising technology to make the best decisions about how to get the best out of them going forward.
Why we need Integrated Solutions
For too long, we’ve been looking at the different elements of a building: the energy, lighting, comfort and security, in isolation. Although it’s easier to look at things this way, the fact is the building works in a holistic way. To get the best out of it we have to look at it holistically, as well as in the context of its environment, neighbourhood and city. For example, more buildings are now designed with daylight dimming strategies that automatically dim artificial light whenever there’s enough natural light, reducing the energy needed to power the lights by as much as 70%. Although this is a worthwhile exercise, one thing that’s often overlooked is the extent to which the artificial lights might heat the building, prompting an increased need for heating on cooler days. If you’re only looking at the lighting, and not the impact of the lights on other elements, you might miss this other important energy factor.
To get the best out of our buildings, we have to look at them holistically. That’s why IES specialises in getting every element of the building to work together in an integrated way and is closely involved in research which looks at interactions at the neighbourhood, city and stakeholder level.
Read more in IES – The Future of Energy Reduction
By 2050, 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in a city. Demand for energy, water and other services will reach potentially unsustainable levels. Unless we use the economies of scale presented by people living in such close proximity to cluster energy needs together in ways that actually reduce energy consumption, resource use and costs.
The Cluster Principle in Action
Consider a row of four houses. Each house has its own boiler, requiring lots of energy to heat the water from cold, every morning and every evening, when the residents want their hot water. This isn’t a very good use of energy. Not only does it require the maximum amount of energy to heat the water from cold, there are four boilers in close proximity, all doing the same thing.
What if instead, you were to replace the four individual boilers with just one slightly larger boiler and leave it to run at optimal efficiency, just below its maximum load all day every day?
You could dramatically reduce the energy costs for the residents, while also increasing their access to hot water. Now this isn’t new, District Heating has been around in social housing contexts for decades, but we can now take this principle further to include community energy generation and sharing, national grid interaction, and connections to electric cars, transport and retrofitting, for example.
Making Cities Smart
Our vision is that by taking a smart approach to a communities’ development you can deliver a city which operates in an integrated fashion. One which uses digital technologies to enhance performance and wellbeing, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and also to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens. A Smart City.
Buildings; the main connectors between transport, energy, health, water and waste in a community, need to be at the core of this approach. Our belief is that by taking the lifecycle of the urban environment into account city planners can affordably start to create Smart Communities, scaling up to Smart Cities.
Imagine a series of smart neighbourhoods, made up of smart buildings capable of integrating with one another and the utilities to conserve energy. Each home is also capable of generating solar energy. The only problem is the residents are mostly out at work during the day, so they can’t use all the energy generated.
Instead of attempting to use harmful chemicals to store the energy, in a process that typically results in much of the energy being lost, a smart city would redirect the excess solar energy to a nearby business – as it’s being generated – eliminating waste and reducing costs.
Read more in IES – The Future of Energy Reduction.
There’s no doubt 2014 is going to be a big year for Glasgow; the Commonwealth Games, the MTV Europe Awards, the Ryder Cup and the Independence Referendum.
But 2014 is also the year that Glasgow gets ‘smart’…
At the start of 2013, Glasgow City Council won the Future Cities Demonstrator competition, securing a £24 million fund from the Technology Strategy Board to spend on projects and technologies to help “make life in Glasgow smarter, safer and more sustainable”. With the IES headquarters based in Glasgow, we were keen to be involved in this Future City project.
IES is now working with Glasgow City Council to develop an online system which will enable citizens to evaluate the energy efficiency of their dwellings and get recommendations of possible improvements, including retrofit solutions, renewables and other energy conservation measures.
We will develop a 3D web portal that will allow users to view the city’s energy performance at both district and building level. A mobile app will also be created for building and home owners to understand their energy use, examine simple energy conservation measures to help them reduce their consumption and provide them with potential retrofit solutions that will be applicable to their buildings.
The app will act as a gateway between users and technology suppliers and will ultimately facilitate city-scale assessments of energy use. The importance of providing a means to conduct the latter cannot be overstated, in terms of the associated potential economic and environmental benefits for Glasgow.
This is an exciting project for IES and Glasgow, and one that continues to move the focus from the building to the city. You can visit the R & D section of our website to find out about our other research projects that are exploring how cities can operate intelligently; in order to benefit its inhabitants and our environment.
2014 – let’s make it a smart one.