Understanding the current energy efficiency measures and building renovation strategies in European municipalities

In this article, our coordinating partner, the Technical University of Munich, describes the purpose and first results of a  survey that was performed amongst EERAdata partner municipalities to better understand the status-quo regarding the municipal processes of building stock analysis, the planning and development of energy efficiency measures and building renovation strategies.

The EERAdata project intends to bring several data sources, local policies and existing schemes together in one data-driven tool that will help to steer building renovation decisions into a sustainable and energy-efficient future.

The Decision-Support tool (DST) developed by EERAdata will be integrated or added to existing infrastructure and will provide insights, calculations, and assessment beyond the existing schemes.

It will outline the political goals, the overall strategy and position of the municipalities regarding energy efficiency and climate change. It will furthermore help to create guidelines and handbooks to integrate the tool in existing decision-making processes and energy efficiency plans.

To lay the foundation for this work, the project partners have evaluated and investigated the existing situation in the three partner municipalities (the City of Copenhagen in Denmark, the Municipality of Velenje in Slovenia, and the Andalusian Energy Agency in Spain) and regions.

For this purpose, a comprehensive survey with more than 129 questions was conducted, together with interviews and bilateral sessions to improve the survey and the related answers.

The survey had four main purposes:

  • To identify the building and socio-economic data situation in each of the EERAdata frontrunner municipalities and regions.
  • To identify existing building codes, political strategies, renovation frameworks, used tools and software, etc., which will help to develop a DST that is user-friendly and fits the requirements of every municipality or region where it is implemented.
  • To create case studies and user stories with information about the involved bodies, departments and, most importantly, decision-makers, which will help to develop the DST along with the situation in the target municipalities and regions.
  • To create a questionnaire and user journey, which will serve, in a later stage, to pre-assess the situation in municipalities and regions who want to use the EERAdata DST and adjust the DST functions based on the survey results

The user journey (questionnaire)

EERAdata derives its input, concepts, and solutions mostly from practical experiences, processes, and knowledge. Therefore, this questionnaire was designed as a user journey, guiding the participant through a building renovation case, and thus raising all relevant questions along the way. The user journey will grow over time and will be able to create complex case studies on which the EERAdata DST can be applied in the late development phases. The user journey covered a wide array of topics:

  • Current working environment of users and occupants
  • Demographics of region and municipality
  • Political agenda
  • Environmental situation and issues
  • Macroeconomy, construction industry and employment
  • Building stock data and quality
  • Socio-Economy (health, productivity, mental health, indoor climate, existing monitoring schemes, aesthetics, priorities)
  • Life Cycle Assessment, Embedded Energy and Building materials

An additional interview was conducted to create the first case study of the EERAdata project: Copenhagen. Here, existing renovation strategies, decision-making mechanisms, related budgets and instruments were structured and the scope of action for the DST was defined. More interviews and workshops regarding the case and user studies are scheduled and will be performed in the next months. A dedicated fact-sheet showing these case studies and the survey results will be published in July 2020.

First results

First results indicate:

  • The available data is scattered and either access rights, data owners or the format and type of data vary significantly. Furthermore, some data must be processed or gathered manually. The next steps in the project will include a sensitivity analysis on these data segments and if and how they are necessary and must be implemented.
  • Decision-making processes, political schemes and renovation strategies differ a lot between countries and even between municipalities in one region. This is due to the budget situation but also the size and the amount of managed properties. However, some core similarities in the assessment process were found and the databases regarding the building stock cover the same indicators all over Europe, indicating that European norms as the European Performance of Building Directive or the Energy Efficiency Directive have somewhat been implemented also in small municipalities
  • Socio-economic data is partly available but not connected to building renovation effects. Demographic assessment and census data are available in singular units or on a regional scale. Here, the EERAdata project will create a first attempt on linking socio-demographic data with building renovation impact assessment.

Planned improvements and next steps

The current results already give a profound insight into the current situation in the EERAdata implementing municipalities and regions.

In the second round of the survey, the answers and numbers from the first survey will be updated and persisting gaps will be filled within the next months. The answers will then lead to an extensive data collection which will generate the data stock for the EERAdata DST. The results also help to design and adjust the methodologies in the socio-economic, life cycle, environmental and energy performance modules of the tool.

For more information about EERAdata follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 847101.