Buildings around the world are getting a boost in energy efficiency and comfort thanks to quality management software developed by EU-funded researchers.
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Buildings generate a staggering 35 % of all CO2 emissions. To help cut energy use, new and retrofitted structures often feature systems designed to automate heating, cooling and air-conditioning. However, coordinating the installation and management of these complex technologies can be difficult and, as a result, many such systems do not work efficiently.
Dysfunctional buildings that fall short of their promises on energy efficiency are not only failing to tackle climate change and costing more to run than intended, but are also damaging our well-being. Europeans spend 90 % of their lives inside, and poor indoor environments negatively affect our health and productivity.
To help, the EU-funded QUANTUM project has developed and brought to market three software tools designed to close the gap between intended and actual performance. Able to work in tandem, the innovative digital tools provide a data-driven quality management approach for the building industry.
All three tools are already being used internationally to help save on energy costs, cut carbon emissions, and in the case of commercial buildings to increase employee productivity by improving the comfort of occupants.
Use of QUANTUMs tools shows significant reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions by a magnitude of 10 % even more in non-residential buildings, says project coordinator Stefan Plesser of the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany.
Testing for success
All too often, building owners do not set out sufficiently clear and measurable requirements from the outset of a new development, making it impossible to later establish whether it is operating to the best of its ability.
The QUANTUM teams central approach was therefore to design for testability by specifying performance targets and creating cost-effective methods for testing and tracking them through a buildings construction and operation.
The tools have already been accredited by global certification bodies, and each one supports a different stage in the quality assurance journey:
- Performance Test Bench, developed by synavision in Germany, specifies and tests automated building services to provide detailed and transparent metrics of the buildings performance.
- Next Generation Power Analyser (NG9), developed by Energy Team in Italy, analyses electricity use in real time and detects unexpected energy consumption.
- Comfortmeter, developed by FACTOR4 in Belgium, evaluates user perceptions and productivity through a web-based survey tool, providing insight into a buildings comfort performance.
Building new global standards
In an extension to the original scope of the project, QUANTUM has become a major driver in supporting broader quality management schemes.
Team members helped develop the international COPILOT Certificate launched in October 2019 which uses synavisions Performance Test Bench as its core software. It is the first scheme to independently certify that building systems are designed, installed, tested and documented in accordance with client requirements and best practice guidelines.
The QUANTUM team has also supported the development of a national standard on quality management in Germany.
QUANTUMs partners are now building business opportunities beyond the project, says Plesser. And this is not about energy efficiency alone. In the long run, we expect our tools to accelerate building projects, to reduce legal follow-up actions, and to increase the productivity of all stakeholders by adding more transparency to the whole process.