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Making Smart Cities Affordable

Posted: October 28, 2015 by , Category:Smart City

Making-smart-cities-affordable

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.

Written by Ruth Kerrigan, our Associate Director of R & D, the following blog post was first published by Building 4 Change. Ruth uses the article to explain that the industry must use virtual testing and performance analysis to cut through greenwash to create truly integrated sustainable eco-cities…

The blame for a major proportion of pollution and waste in our society can justly be laid at the door of cities. However, high density populations also means that energy, water and other services can be provided more efficiently, while minimising the infrastructure associated with modern living.

The design of ‘eco-cities’ – those with sustainable smart buildings that integrate with each other and the grid itself to conserve resources – is becoming increasingly important.  The world’s population is projected to keep rising for at least the next century, and by 2050, 70 percent of people will live in cities, so addressing efficiency is essential. Controlling our use of energy, water and other resources will no longer be an option, but a necessity.

The IES research and development concept is based on smart eco-cities which use information and communication technology (ICT) to incorporate real-time dynamic control. Performance analysis and predictive interrogation of data will play a key part in this.

Emerging vision
IES Smart CIty ImageOur emerging concept is for each building to be designed or refurbished using state-of-the-art 3D simulation to quantify, optimise and verify its performance. The building simulation model would then be used to commission and subsequently control it. However, a true eco-city would require more than independently efficient buildings. It would need a master system that could optimise city-wide energy and water consumption in co-ordination with the relevant utilities.

IES invests over a quarter of its turnover in research and development, and is actively involved in a number of Scottish, UK and European funded projects across all areas of such an eco-city lifecycle. We are also actively involved in key sustainable building/community test sites considered to be at the forefront of global research.

Across these projects we are both providing the underlying technology and acting as a hub to connect many different organisations and stakeholders in the eco-city lifecycle. Our concept maps the entire process, from masterplanning through to simulation-based control of eco-communities and links with smart grids.

We played a part in the £24 million Future City Demonstrator grant recently won by Glasgow – which saw off competition from London, Peterborough, Bristol and 30 other UK cities. IES contributed on the use of a communications hub to inform buildings how to improve energy efficiency.

The company is in negotiation for a number of larger projects due to start in later 2013 and is involved in the following smart city related R&D projects.

  • People Friendly Cities in A Data Rich World – EU COST Action
  • Interactive Decision Support Platform for the Creation of the Eco-City through the Integration of Sustainable Urban Metrics and a Common City Index (CitySUMS) – SMART: Scotland
  • Indicator-based Interactive Decision Support and Information Exchange

INDICATE ImagePlatform for Smart Cities (INDICATE) – EU FP7

  • Intelligent Urban Energy Tool (iUrban) – EU FP7
  • Friendly and Affordable Sustainable Urban Districts Retrofitting (FASUDIR) – EU FP7


Overcoming barriers

A major challenge is the discontinuity between actual utilities consumption and design/simulated data. Buildings rarely perform as predicted, and building energy management systems (BEMS) only monitor and report in a descriptive, ad-hoc way. Vast amounts of data are collected but not fully utilised to inform decisions. These conventional management methods are laborious and make it difficult to maintain optimal control. Post-design, BEMS monitor only the individual building and rely on facility managers to interpret the data and act accordingly. This creates a lot of data but doesn’t produce viable smart buildings.

Until now, technology didn’t exist to simulate and test optimisation hypotheses based on real operational data. There was a reliance on design simulation technology that could point out flaws and optimise performance virtually before the building was constructed, and BEMS systems which monitor usage after the fact. However, new software and computer modelling capabilities has made creating smarter, more efficient buildings easier than it has ever been. IES believes that performance analysis can truly drive eco-communities, districts and cities.

Building design using 3D models is already the norm and it can deliver a model suitable for operational activities.  Connecting the dots by incorporating real operational data into the model is the next step, and one that we have already successfully taken, through our Scottish Enterprise funded VE-SCAN research project and resulting product.

The application of 3D building performance simulation on new-build, refurbishment and operation optimisation projects facilitates a greatly improved integrated and sustainable design process. It paves the way for smart interaction between buildings in a community or city to optimise efficiency at the next level.

Through virtual testing and performance analysis the industry is able to cut through greenwash and deliver measurable results. These are what will drive eco-cities.

 

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