Building on experience – Information Centre – Research & Innovation

There are many factors that can influence a building’s energy performance that a simulation cannot take into account. This is why one EU-funded project has gathered experience-based input from other building and energy stakeholders on what worked – and what didn’t. The result is enbuibench, a platform where users can compare a building’s energy use against other buildings with similar characteristics.


© malp #225693032, 2020

Europe is known for its valuable built environment, which includes many historic homes and beautiful buildings. But peel back this façade and you’ll find that many are grossly inefficient. In fact, Europe’s buildings consume 40{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d} of all the energy used across the continent and, in doing so, are responsible for 36{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d} of all CO2 emissions.

“These buildings are low hanging fruit for improving our carbon footprint and meeting the EU’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050,” says Roberto Lollini, group leader in energy efficient buildings at Eurac Research and ExcEED project coordinator. “But this requires us to not only have a better understanding of the existing building stock, but to use this knowledge to improve its quality and performance via dedicated, tailored actions.”

By seamlessly integrating data on a building’s features and related energy performance into the enbuibench platform, the EU-funded ExcEED project is raising awareness on how different types of buildings perform in practice. “With the enbuibench platform, we’re transforming data into information and knowledge that can be used to enhance energy efficiency while ensuring a healthy and comfortable environment,” adds Lollini.

Experience-based input

When an architect, engineer, or contractor wants to improve a building’s efficiency, they typically base their design on simulations. Although these simulations can provide a good idea of how a building will perform, it’s still only an indication.
“There are so many factors that can influence actual performance that a simulation simply cannot take into account,” explains Lollini. “This is when the experience-based input from other building and energy stakeholders on what worked – and what didn’t – would prove invaluable.”

With the enbuibench platform, Europe now has a framework to store and process measured quantitative and qualitative data. This unique platform allows users, including energy service companies (ESCOs), energy managers, and designers, to analyse and benchmark their buildings’ energy use against other buildings with similar characteristics.

“Collecting exploitable design and operational data for a representative stock of new and renovated buildings across Europe gives the building sector valuable insights into assumed and actualised energy performance,” says Lollini. “It also allows one to easily identify what needs to be changed, leading not only to improved design practices, but also to better environmental practices.”

Advancing the state-of-the-art

Enbuibench allows users to visualise a building’s energy and comfort data, understand energy performance trends, and compare building performance using 27 well-defined key performance indicators – to name just a few of its core functions. In practice, this means an energy manager can use the platform to report on a building’s energy performance.

“Thanks to ExcEED, we have automated the filing of energy reports, which helps energy managers reduce inefficient building operations,” says Lollini. “The platform also provides them with valuable information from a portfolio of buildings with similar features that they can use to improve energy performance.”

The enbuibench platform, which is freely available and is constantly being updated with new data, offers similar benefits to ESCOs and energy consultants. The only requirement for using it is that one first uploads their own building data.

“It’s clear that this platform has the potential to advance the state-of-the-art in energy efficient building practices,” adds Lollini. “That’s why we remain committed to promoting its use and expansion.”