Copyright © 2009 Integrated Environmental Solutions Limited. All rights reserved
ENTRUST is one of the R&D projects that IES is involved in under the Smart City banner. It’s part of the Horizon2020 call topic ‘LCE20: The Human Factor in the Energy System’, and seeks to develop an understanding of Europe’s energy system.
In particular, it’s looking at how human behaviour and practices around energy is shaped by both technological systems and socio-demographic factors such as gender, age, and socio-economic status.
The knowledge generated from this project will ultimately contribute to improving stakeholder engagement across Europe, which is increasingly seen as essential if the EU is to implement the structural changes needed to move towards a less ‘carbon-intensive’ energy system.
IES is taking the lead in developing the project’s knowledge and communication platform, along with fellow partner STAM.
So who’s who’s in the IES Project Team?
Giulia Barbano, Project Manager, has worked for over 10 years in transferring sustainable built environment research to market, policy, and the public. She has contributed to several EU research projects as coordinator, manager and research leader, working at all scales from innovative materials to urban sustainability. At the international level she has organised dissemination activities and networking events for hundreds of researchers and professionals around the world.
Jessica Bergs is an expert in human-computer interaction and builds upon her educational background in media engineering and her work in Stuttgart´s creative industries as a developer and designer for interactive media for museums, events and showrooms. After attaining her Master´s degree with Distinction from the Glasgow School of Art, Jessica joined IES Ltd. where she now develops user-centred interaction concepts and prototypes for IES´ core product range and R&D projects.
Mark de Wit PhD joined IES in January of 2010 to apply his experience of delivering high-performance, data-intensive software solutions to the Virtual Environment, initially as a software developer, then Team Lead for the Model Interface team, and now as Software Architect. Prior to IES, Mark worked at a number of successful start-up companies, delivering innovative software solutions in data gathering and mobile phone applications. He holds a PhD degree in Computing Science from Glasgow University.
Michael Oates PhD is the Technical Analyst on commercial, and research and development (R&D) projects. Working for IES for over 4 years Michael has been technical lead/analyst on 6 FP7, H2020, and Marie Curie European projects. Mike´s research project topic areas include glazing (electrochromic glazing), retrofit technologies, manufacturing, and city modelling. He also has a focus on application development, including gamification.
To find out more about IES’s R&D work visit http://www.iesve.com/research.
The following piece is an extract from the January 2017 issue of Impact, a publication that features science reports designed to enable the dissemination of research impact to key stakeholders. This is a report on ENTRUST, a H2020 R&D project that IES is involved in as a project partner.
ENTRUST is a three-year project exploring energy-related human behaviours and attitudes and how these are shaped by numerous factors, including age, gender and socioeconomic status. Through this in-depth analysis, the research team hopes to advance the transition to a low carbon energy society.
Traditionally, energy has been seen primarily as a commodity – a marketable product produced and sold by companies with the principal motivation of financial return. In this perspective, citizens are conceived as consumers whose only legitimate mode of interaction with the energy system is through their purchasing choices and consumption practices. However, consumption only represents one element of the human interaction with the energy system and such a restrictive view has led to poor policy decisions being made, resulting in, for example, bottom-up resistance to energy infrastructure and the design of less than effective initiatives aimed at changing energy behaviour and practices.
In a time when the energy system is undergoing a rapid transformation, understanding the human dimensions of energy is more important than ever. The EU has set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent from 1990 levels, and to have a minimum of 27 per cent of energy produced by renewables, as well as a 27 per cent improvement in energy efficiency. In order to achieve this transition to a low carbon energy paradigm efficiently and effectively, the way in which energy is viewed needs to be re-evaluated.
Energy citizenship is a theory that seeks to move beyond the narrow view of energy as a commodity and seeks to integrate the public as active stakeholders in the energy system. While this is an emergent (and to a degree contested) concept, a key feature of energy citizenship is that it should involve not only the responsibility to change behaviours and practices, but also include the right of citizens to be involved in energy-related decision making processes.
ENTRUST (Energy System Transition Through Stakeholder Activation, Education and Skills Development) is a project that has adopted this theory as a conceptual framework for investigating the human factors of the energy system. Commenced in May 2015, and coordinated by University College Cork (UCC), Ireland, this Horizon 2020-funded project seeks to gain an indepth understanding of people’s awareness and perceptions of the energy system, their attitudes towards various energy technologies, and their energy consumption behaviours and practices. This analysis particularly explores how sociodemographic factors (especially gender, age and socioeconomic status) impact and shape these attitudes and practices. Building on this understanding, the project additionally aims to engage the public in the current energy transition and develop effective tools for creating public interest in European energy policy and innovation. It is hoped that researching and understanding this human dimension will both help to build an energy infrastructure that is acceptable to communities, and that supports the successful transition to a low carbon society.
A MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACH
What is particularly important about ENTRUST is its multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach to its research on the energy system. A wide range of disciplines – including engineering, sociology, political science, psychology, gender theory and human geography – are integral to the effective exploration of the sociodemographic factors at play. To obtain expertise in such a diverse array of fields, a number of organisations – Liverpool John Moores University and Integrated Environmental Solutions Ltd (UK), LGI Consulting (France), Redinn S.r.l. and STAM S.r.l. (Italy), and Enerbyte Smart Energy Solutions SL (Spain) – are partners with UCC on the project.
The ENTRUST team sees the roles of gender, age and socioeconomic status in moulding a person’s identity as crucial to understanding their associated impacts on our energy infrastructures. As Project Coordinator Niall Dunphy explains: ‘We recognise that every person’s identity is complex and multifaceted, and that gender, age and socioeconomic status all play a role in shaping – both positively and negatively – people’s attitudes and practices when it comes to energy. We should also recognise that these indicators also shape people’s experiences of oppression and privilege to varying degrees throughout their lives.’
To gain an enhanced understanding of individuals’ actions and behaviours in relation to energy, ENTRUST has adopted an integrated, mixed-methods approach. It will evaluate the extent to which one’s social environment impacts on behaviour and practices. Furthermore, the role of gender (in particular) will be assessed via intersectional analyses to gain a deep insight on how multiple sociodemographic factors of a person’s identity can influence their energyrelated attitudes and practices. Through this investigation, the ENTRUST team is endeavouring to integrate new knowledge within a practical framework that can help shape future energy innovations, improve stakeholder understanding and, ultimately, overcome the shortcomings of the current energy transition. ‘By helping to give local people a voice in policy making we hope to contribute towards short-circuiting the potential for repeating some of the pitfalls that hindered previous phases of the energy transition,’ states Dunphy.
THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Since energy citizenship lies at the core of ENTRUST’s framework, empowering communities is a crucial focus of the project. The team is collaborating with six different communities across Europe, which will have the opportunity to co-design their own energy transition. ‘We are working with these communities to, firstly, understand both their awareness, perceptions, behaviour and attitudes to energy-relevant technologies, and, secondly, to facilitate them to envision, and to re-imagine their own energy transition,’ Dunphy elaborates.
One interesting approach being adopted by the project to help community empowerment is Participatory Action Research, the emphasis of which is on participation and action among community members. By enabling individuals and communities to work collaboratively and thoughtfully towards making positive change happen, ENTRUST is encouraging the development of bespoke energy systems that involve an efficient, low carbon framework.
The project is engaging the public by conducting in-depth face-to-face interviews, focus groups and mini-publics (the assembling of randomly selected citizens that represent a microcosm of the public to discuss a particular topic). A particular emphasis is on ensuring inclusivity. For example, with regard to gender, timing, location and provision of support services (such as crèches) are considered important to enable both female and male participation.
In terms of wider public engagement, Dunphy and his colleagues are setting up a communication and knowledge platform that will inform and update citizens on the developments of their community’s future bespoke energy system. Not only this, but the platform will encourage discussion and participation among individuals – no matter what their gender, age or socioeconomic status – giving them an active say in the shaping of their energy system.
ENTRUSTING COMMUNITIES WITH THE ENERGY OF THE FUTURE
Just one year into the project good progress has already been achieved, with the completion of numerous analyses on, for example, policy and regulation, energy technologies and market-based policy tools. Now, activities are really ramping up, as the multidisciplinary team gets to work on stakeholder engagement and sociodemographic analyses. ‘The next 12 months are an exciting time for the ENTRUST project,’ Dunphy notes. ‘We will continue our intensive and rich engagement with the six communities of interest, which will result in intersectional analyses of their perceptions and attitudes towards energy, and of their perceptions and attitudes towards energy technologies.’ Once these findings have been obtained, they will, along with the aforementioned analyses, be able to significantly inform the future of our energy system.
Find out more about the ENTRUST Project here: http://www.entrust-h2020.eu/
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.
Who am I to contradict the President of the USA, but I am delighted to tell you that you don’t have to worry about the planet – the Earth will survive global warming.
Why do I know this? Well there is scientific evidence that shows that during the last few hundred million years the Earth has been both much warmer and much colder than it is today. In both extreme cases Earth has survived.
Consequently, I do not think our 1.5⁰C or above increase in global temperature will damage Earth.
It will be 7.5 billion years before the Earth will be consumed by the sun which will have become a red giant. This is so far in the future it is not a concern. So what is the problem?
Loss of Life.
Five major mass extinctions have been identified over the last 500 million years or so. In the most extreme cases almost 95% of life became extinct.
The most famous mass extinction killed off the dinosaurs. This was extremely fortunate for humans as it created the opportunity for mammals to occupy the space vacated by the dinosaurs. This obviously led to us – Homo sapiens – becoming the dominate species.
Homo sapiens have been around for a hundred thousand years. In that time species such as the mammoth and the sabre-toothed tiger have been lost. Whether that has been due to humans or not is questionable. However, the same cannot be said for the Dodo and many recent species that have become extinct.
However, our interaction with the Earth is causing an increasing number of species to disappear. Scientists believe that we are in the middle of the sixth mass extinction. Human activity such as burning fossil fuels, deforestation, dams, over fishing, etc. demonstrate that we are the principal cause of this current mass extinction. Scientists have estimated that by 2100 50% of current species will be extinct.
What about us?
Humans are highly resilient. What happens to us depends upon what action we take to stop global warming. We face droughts, floods, lost top soil, food and water shortages, wars over resources and mass migration, etc. By 2100 will we have smart cities or no cities? Will we be going forward to a much better global society or devolving back to the ‘Dark Ages’ e.g. post Roman Empire?
It is our choice.
One thing is for sure – The Earth will be OK.
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.
We’ve recently had the pleasure of being involved with the creation of the latest IET (Institute of Engineering Technology) technical briefing. Covering the “Challenges and Opportunities of Data-Driven Systems for Building, Community and City-Scale Applications”, it was right up our street.
Our R&D department invests a third of our turnover in looking to the future: on how digital technology can be used within a Smart Built Environment. Our belief is that Buildings, the main connectors between citizens, transport, energy, health, water and waste in a community, need to be at the core of a Smart City approach.
The Urban Lifecycle is critical to reducing energy costs and tackling climate change.
Today, outcomes from our R&D department are already starting to make a difference. We’re using operational data and our unique SCAN technology to bridge the performance gap between design and operation; helping facilities managers reduce energy consumption. You can read the case study we produced for IET on the Proof of Concept study we did with Glasgow City Council here: http://www.theiet.org/sectors/built-environment/files/glasgow-cc-casestudy.cfm.
Data has always played a profound role in the decision-making and engineering management processes within the built environment, whether at building, community or city-scale. The IET Briefing which this case study is part of reviews the key challenges and opportunities for the application of digital technologies in the smart built environment – view it here: http://www.theiet.org/sectors/built-environment/resources/digital-technology.cfm.
We look forward to continuing to engage and raise awareness in this important field.
Our wasteful use of energy is catching up with us. Environmental disasters which usually happen once every hundred years are happening every year. And climate change, once considered an issue for future generations, has moved firmly into the present.
The simple fact is: if we continue to emit heat-trapping gases from the burning of fossil fuels at the current rate, we will force temperatures to rise above the level our eco-system can cope with. All in less time than it takes for today’s preschoolers to finish high school.
Today, most countries have “Brown Economies” that are dependent on fossil fuels. We need to move as quickly as possible to “Green Economies” that have little need for fossil fuels and are resource efficient. Our ever increasing migration to cities and their growth presents us with a unique opportunity to drive this change through our approach to city infrastructure.
We need to stop wasting energy
As governments across the world respond by introducing carbon reduction targets, many people would argue the solution is to stop burning gas, oil and coal altogether and start generating all our energy from renewable sources, such as wind and solar power.
I used to be one of those people. It was only after I completed my PhD, in the generation and use of solar energy, that I realised renewable energy isn’t the solution. It certainly has a role to play – but when I tell people how much space they’ll need for all the solarflex required to power just one building, they quickly agree we need to stop wasting energy and reduce our overall energy consumption first.
When I created the Virtual Environment (VE), to enable architects and engineers to predict the impact of making changes to buildings on their energy consumption, little did I realise just how powerful the technology would become. Today, we’re not only helping facilities managers to reduce energy consumption and creating some of the world’s most sustainable buildings, but we’re also working with city planners to create smart cities where no energy is wasted.
Our buildings need to get smarter
It’s simply unacceptable that in a society capable of understanding the laws of the universe, cloning life and travelling through space, we still allow our buildings to waste a quarter of their energy.
As the Earth’s population continues to expand and more people migrate into cities, we need to look at how to not only make new buildings more sustainable, but also leverage the opportunities for economies of scale this presents. That way, we can we make our existing buildings and cities as energy-efficient as possible.
Only by looking at buildings and cities as the integrated environments that they are – instead of parts of the problem in isolation – can we ensure everyone involved in the conception, design or management of a building gets to leave our world in a much better state than we inherited it.
Thank you for playing your part.
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.