IT & Measurement Provider¶
Partnership & buy-in¶
Partnership & buy-in covers the period in which the majority of stakeholders is yet unfamiliar with the service. Key actors need to be identified and support needs to be gathered.
The first step at the outset of an implementation project should always be agreement on the overall goal of the intervention. While improved energy efficiency is obviously the overarching goal, there are several ways to achieve this and the kind of intervention to be chosen also depends on the regulatory environment and the actors to be involved.
The project should start with a review of the potential benefits and downsides of implementing smart metering based services for a given stock of buildings. Based on best practice and available research evidence, it should be possible to make a general estimate about the costs and potential benefits to be derived from implementing.
Any decision about implementation of smart metering related innovations in the housing sector has to take full account of the national and regional/local regulatory environment. A number of Member State governments have developed policy initiatives for the support of smart technologies for energy efficiency in the residential sector. In many cases, support programmes and incentive schemes have been set up. Investors need to fully understand the national implementation context before embarking on a smart metering project.
The national and local environment will also influence the main options which are available for action, as well as the main drivers and constraints to be expected.
The project at this stage will also want to take stock of what is in place already in terms of infrastructure for metering and energy management. All of the above will enable the project initiators to define a number of goals of their endeavour. At this stage of the project, goals need to be general rather than specific, in order not to predetermine key features of the project before all key stakeholders have come on board.
Review Drivers and Constraints¶
Main drivers and constraints which can be expected to have an impact on the project’s success. Drivers are trends and developments affecting external conditions (e.g. increasing energy prices) or in conditions internal to the organisation (e.g. increasing company focus on investments in sustainability).
Assessment of the most important drivers and constraints at this stage in the project will enable you to properly plan the second phase in the implementation, i.e. identifying all key stakeholders and obtaining their buy-in.
Typical drivers include:
- Political support at national or local/regional level, creating a strong momentum for exploiting smart metering’s potential for improving energy efficiency;
- Financial support in the form of subsidies being paid to housing providers implementing smart meters and/or related services in residential buildings;
- Consumers voicing increasing demand for being better able to explore their own energy consumption and to cost-control their energy bill;
- Increasingly wide-spread concern for the environment, particularly for preventing severe climate change, which can lead consumers to take a stronger interest in saving energy;
- Strong consumer interest in ICT applications that give them more control over their daily life combined with automation of routine processes, as discussed widely e.g. under the term “smart homes”.
Types of constraints can include:
- Investment strategies focusing on the short-term, resulting in a prioritisation of investments that yield a return in a short period of time over investments yielding a much larger return but only in the longer term;
- Financial constraints and budget squeezes, making it more difficult to justify fast roll-out of smart metering to all or a large proportion of dwellings;
- Uncertainty about upcoming regulation, e.g. on smart meter roll-out, informative billing, mandatory energy savings, etc. Perceived uncertainty is likely to result in reluctance to make large investments in infrastructure;
- Concerns about data privacy among customers (tenants). Such concerns have already lead in 2009 to the failure of the plan of the Dutch government to make smart meters compulsory in every residential building by 2013, after intense campaigning by consumer protection groups and privacy advocates;
- Concerns about data security threats posed by computer viruses and similar attacks. While consumers have learned to live with the risk of infected home computers, security experts have pointed out that smart meters are also potentially vulnerable to hacking, manipulation, spying and unwanted telemarketing ;
- Lack of cooperation by utilities, measurement service providers and other stakeholders who have a key role in the energy supply chain (see section 4.2.2).
Replication Scenarios are also an interesting way to decide which buildings to equip, particularly, if you already have experience in the domain.
Actual drivers and facilitators at work at a given site for implementation will depend strongly on the implementation context and the local environment for investments in energy efficiency and roll-out of customer-facing applications. Use the checklist below to note down those drivers and constraints which are, potentially at least, of most relevance to the success of your project.
Drivers and constraints service implementation
Do not only rate the individual items but also write down the specific contingency and the implications resulting for all relevant items!
- Political support at local level
- Financial support
- Consumers voice increasing demand for being able to cut their energy bills
- Increasing concern about climate change and carbon footprints
- Strong consumer interest in “smart homes”
- Investment strategies focussing on the short-term
- Financial constraints and budget squeezes
- Uncertainty about upcoming regulation
- Concerns about data privacy
- Lack of cooperation from key stakeholders
- Any other potential constraints
Involving all parties that have a stake in the “energy efficiency value chain“ in the implementation project is a key conditions for success. What is more, all key stakeholders involved need to believe that the project is worth their effort, i.e. their financial resources, but most importantly their willingness to cooperate and their commitment to the project’s ultimate success.
Experience has shown that various stakeholders may feel the need to resist or delay the introduction of energy-efficiency strategies based on smart metering technology. It is for this reason that incentivisation should be a core ingredient of any project for implementing ICT-services.
Incentives IT & Measurement Provider¶
The referenced projects have shown that for successful roll-out of smart metering in the residential and non-residential sector, not technology but access to consumption data was the most vital factor. One of the major challenges faced by pilot sites was convincing meter operators, who in most cases are also operating the electricity or gas grid, to grant access to meter data. Even more difficult it was to gain access to the meter infrastructure itself.
Circumventing existing meter devices can mean that separate metering devices must be installed for feeding data to demand response systems, which leads to inacceptable increases in costs for EDSS or EMS implementation, and also presents a waste of resources.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that speeding up the replacement of smart meters for old meters can be bad economics from the viewpoint of measurement providers, as old meters are considered sunk costs but still generate significant return in the form of regular rental payments (ultimately paid for by tenants). For this reason, some countries have set up incentive schemes through which meter operators receive a premium for each old meter they replace by a smart meter.
Some Member States, including Germany, have adopted legislation that has liberated the metering market, to the effect that for instance housing providers can become meter operators themselves. As measurement providers have much more of the technical expertise required to operate meters, taking over meter management will however not be feasible for most pilot implementations.
Agreement is possible with establishing a continuous flow of fees paid by the user of data. Fees and conditions should be picked with care as otherwise the incentive for the building owner to implement his own devices with the next iteration.
Measurement providers might also be forced to cooperate as a consequence of national regulation. This does not guarantee, however, that they will be fully motivated to make the project succeed. It is to be recommended, therefore, that measurement providers are included in the core project team to allow them to play an active and constructive role and to make suggestions based on their own interests as market players.
Incentives Energy Coaches¶
Many municipalities and also some social housing companies deploy staff that provide advice to citizens and tenants, respectively, in energy-saving matters. Such providers of energy advice have become more important recently as fuel poverty has become a topic of public debate and policy-making. If any provider of energy advice operates in the area of the buildings chosen to participate in service implementation, they should be actively engaged in the project.
The most useful approach appears to be cooperation with so-called energy coaches, i.e. individuals providing energy advice in one-to-one conversation. Research has provided strong evidence that energy coaches can play a vital role in projects seeking energy savings through changes of consumer behaviour . An energy coach is a person who acts as tenants’ guide throughout the implementation process, assisting consumers with understanding their energy consumption behaviour, finding ways how to save energy most effectively, and answering any related questions.
For their part, providers of energy advice should have strong motivation to participate actively in the implementation project, as ICT-services can provide them with much improved information about current consumption patterns, on which basis more focused on personalised advice can be given to households.
Incentives Energy Provider¶
At least with regard to Electricity, utilities play an important role in projects for implementation of smart metering because they tend to own the consumption data. They should always be included within the core team of a project for implementation of ICT-enabled systems.
If the utility is not included, experience shows that reaching agreement about supply of consumption data for the purpose of operating smart meters can be difficult; some energy providers / grid operators charge significant sums of money for giving access to the data, as happened in some sites (e.g. Moulins, Manresa)
Since adoption of the new EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive in October 2012, energy providers know that they will be required to make their customers reduce their energy consumption by at least 1.5% per year. This means that utilities now have an intrinsic interest in initiatives to increase energy efficiency in the residential sector. While it will take some times before the Directive will have been translated into applicable national legislation, its adoption means that utilities are made aware that they need to contribute their share to Europe’s policy on energy saving. There also appears to be a consensus among utilities that smart meters will have to play a key role if energy saving targets are to be met.
An additional incentive for energy providers is the concern among the utility industry “that some emerging solutions, and exciting ones at that, are being developed in ways that exclude the role of the utility. This is in part at least due to the commoditisation of energy efficiency solutions, but also apparently due to the slow speed at which the utilities industry is progressing with its commercial energy efficiency offerings”. Active engagement in the implementation can be seen as one strategy for the utilities to have a say in the further development of the residential market for energy efficiency.
In general, incentives can differ between types of utilities. A distinction has to be made here between investor-owned utilities and municipal-owned utilities. The former are typically regulated by state public utilities/service commissions, while municipal-owned utilities have much more discretion in making decisions related to rate designing and energy efficiency, especially if the social housing stock in which services are to be implemented is owned by the municipality as well.
If utilities are owned by municipalities, local officials who intend to pursue energy-efficiency programmes can indeed benefit from distinct advantages. However, not all cities owning utilities are committed to climate protection and energy efficiency, in which case utility ownership can possibly slow down a commitment to investments in energy efficiency due to the high costs that are often associated with such strategies. On the other hand, owning a utility can present an opportunity for local governments to involve citizens in efforts to pursue “green” initiatives. For example, cities with municipal-owned utilities can directly engage in efforts to inform citizens of how much they can cut their utility bills through improving their energy efficiency, inform citizens of their green-house emissions, and sponsor strategies to reduce those emissions though various rebate programs.
A good way to explore the different motivations among key participants in the implementation project is to ask each key stakeholder to fill out the Checklist checklist_reviewbenefits and then to discuss the findings in a group discussion chaired by an independent moderator.
List, for each stakeholder organisation, the incentives and disincentives that can be expected to influence their commitment to the project’s goals, together with the actions you will need to take to create or strengthen incentives and get rid of disincentives.
If it is clear that a key stakeholder foreseen to participate in the project cannot be sufficiently motivated, you may need to seek alternative options. Otherwise, the project can be severely affected.
Involving just the energy department is not enough
- The project has ICT aspects and in your case also?
- Think of all the possible fields that are relevant to the project and effect / contribute to its effectiveness and success and approach the responsible people
- Ask at meeting whether they want to remain active or whether being kept in loop is sufficient
Lengthily procedures for involving staff / professionals into the project
- The best way of reaching out to the staff members is through their superiors
- It is helpful to have good relations with heads of departments and to keep them informed about all project activities
The dispersion of financial benefits through project as facilitator for the service adoption.
- Experience showed that by sharing with users the reduction of energy costs, their interest towards the service grew stronger.
- Share positive information, especially financial benefits, through mail, telephone, brochures, etc.
- Energy managers can increase motivation with face to face interviews.
Observe changin political situation
- New administration needs to proof action, if system not understood first to be “saved”
- Survey the political scene in order to take advantage when opportunities arise
- Seek to establish new contacts and influence when a change occurs
Data security & regulation¶
Data security & regulation covers the validation of core rules such as data protection rules and legal requirements.
This is only a summary, see Legal Documentation for full detail.
The European landscape for implementation¶
There is large variation across Europe regarding the government support initiatives for implementation of smart metering in the residential sector receives. The extent to which smart metering is actually rolled out is also strikingly different across Member States.
A cross-country review of the situation in Spring 2013, carried out by the SmartRegions project  , came to the conclusion that “progress has been strongest in the countries with a significant regulatory push”. The study grouped Member States into five categories according to progress in smart meter implementation and support received from the legal and regulatory environment:
- Dynamic Movers are most advanced, and include Italy, Spain and France.
- Market Drivers are lagging behind in terms of implementation of the legal and regulatory framework, but have made good progress in roll-out. This group includes Germany.
- Ambiguous Movers lag behind in terms of roll-out
Many of the so-called dynamic movers have defined very ambitious roll-out plans. In addition, most of these countries have formally agreed on minimal requirements smart meters have to meet, something which is still missing in most other countries. Countries classified as market drivers have achieved only moderate progress so far.
Many countries suffer from a large degree of scepticism, especially on the part of consumer advocates and data privacy activists.
empirica is continuously working on this issue and has extensive documentation of the regulatory development. If you are interested, contact email@example.com.
Various policy initiatives and legislation have been introduced in the last years to address the important role of metering and billing in the energy sector. As part of the Third Energy Package, Member States have performed a quantitative analysis regarding the implementation of the so-called smart meters for electricity and gas. Based on that, most Member States have implemented or are about to implement the installation of smart meters.
The requirements of the Third Energy Package are closely linked to the Energy Service Directive (ESD), which apart from smart meters includes legislation on conventional metering and billing as well. The Directive states that individual meters are to be provided to customers for electricity and gas, but also for district heating, cooling and domestic hot water. With the newest directive - the Energy Efficiency Directive - from 2012, the focus remains on individual metering and providing appropriate billing and billing information, with a special focus on multi-apartment and multi-purpose buildings.
Concerns about data privacy
- Surveys where people are asked to fill in personal information (e.g. their e-mail address) raise concerns
- Ask for personal information only if it absolutely necessary
- If personal information is requested, give a good explanation why it is needed and what it is used for.
- If no personal information is needed, announce that the survey is anonymous
Data consistency can fail not only in database
- Gaps in data affect models or require complex correction understood by few
- Data loss can go unnoticed for weeks for individual meter if no regular check is done
- Gap in data also minimises your ability to trace back cause of error as data is lost
- Users will lose trust in service if data visible is not reliable
- Devices should have temporary storage (e.g. 4 days) in case network breaks down and submit packages later
- Service provider should be made responsible to track data loss and trigger fixing in time with payments dependent on achieving KPI
- Implement simple daily procedure checking meter recordings (e.g. meter reading today greater than yesterday) to limit data loss
Keep data processes transparent
- Users are alarmed whenever their personal data is requested
- Why keep process and use a secret when you are not going to sell data?
- List if any personnel data is being recorded
- Explain in writing what data is used and explictely state it is not going to be used beyond this purpose
- Create link to / Establish a data protection contact point
Do not rely on data to stay consistent
- Changing to hardware (e.g. boiler) might change meter or measurements
- Particularly, dangerous if data supplied from outside and
- when large number of buildings is being managed
- Establish procedure to be informed about changes
- Make sure data access is requirement at installation and is in fact restored
- Daily consistency check of data ensuring changes can be seen (at least) ex post
Invite for data / privacy workshop if legislation changes
- Invite all key stakeholders to ensure trust remains untouched
- Prepare and provide information material on regulatory change
- Check whether understanding is the same
- Then check whether changes need to be made to service and collect requirements as in initial set-up
Technical set-up is about the technical planning and implementation of the service.
Build implementation team / identify champions¶
This step involves set-up of a team of qualified personnel to initiate and lead the implementation process. A team of qualified and experienced personnel from across stakeholder organisations to initiate and lead the project helps to ensure that the implementation plan is carefully crafted, with special emphasis to be placed on realistic work plan and adequate risk mitigation strategies. Bringing together a team of interested individuals with diverse backgrounds also serves to ensure that the implementation programme receives broad support from local stakeholders.
Assessment of incentives and motivations from the viewpoint of all main stakeholders will enable you to identify an implementation champion who can support the project by promoting it among her or his sphere of influence.
In this context it is worth pointing out that end users who can act as multipliers should be involved as active participants of the implementation team as well, if feasible.
Defining Scope and Focus¶
The leading actor should lay out the limits of the service to be deployed to make sure that the following steps such as requirement collection and use case development do not loose focus.
Selection of utilities to be covered by the service¶
Based on your project’s overarching goals, you will need to decide which resources and devices should be covered by the service.
If the objective is to achieve the highest possible energy savings with the smart services to be introduced, it needs to be kept in mind that three quarters of the energy used in the European residential buildings sector is for heating and cooling. Given these patterns of energy consumption, it strikes as unfortunate that the discussion about potential uses of smart meter technologies tends to revolve around electricity.
It is true, however, that energy use for electrical appliances has been increasing in the last decades, partly due to the larger number of ICT appliances being used. Moreover, the share of electricity in average utility bills in the residential sector is much higher than its share of total energy consumption. Hence, in monetary terms it might be easier to incentivise stakeholders.
If renewables are produced locally, a mutual benefit can result for the operator of the units and the consumer. Depending on national law, local consumption which does not enter the grid is freed from tax etc. Hence, getting the user involved to consume energy at peak production times is
Moreover, the ICT monitoring can help to identify whether the unit is running on optimal capacity. Sometimes, even newly installed solar devices are not perfectly adjusted or water pressures for water thermals not optimally set by the contractor. The data monitored can be matched against the output promised and then adjustments can be made to increase the output.
Considering peak demand local storage¶
Existing buildings are storing energy. The materials used have a so called ‘latent storage’ capacity. Depending on the material used it can store large amount of heat (or cold) realising it faster or slower. Since heat (cold) energy can be converted into electricity (and vice versa), storage capacities of buildings can be used to store-up production capacities (e.g. CHCP) and supply of renewables (photovoltaic) for a given amount of time.
ICT can intelligently balance local systems helping to mitigate similar problems and to ensure that local network connections are optimally loaded and transitory (stochastic) renewable output fully used. It is now recognised that local balancing by matching local supply and demand can not only reduce the number of hours of criticality locally, but as well help to balance load at a wider scale . The future smart grid will rely on Virtual Power Plants (VPP) and Demand Response within and from buildings.
Selection of channel for representation of feedback¶
There has been a lot of debate in the field of smart meter enabled energy efficiency and demand response about which forms of feedback work best. Research conducted by the Empower Demand 1+2 projects , as well as experience from piloting, has shown that multiple feedback channels tend to work best. It is certainly true that different consumers will prefer different channels and that no one-size-fits-all approach is likely to meet all needs and preferences.
The basic options, and their main advantages and limitations, for presentation channels are:
- In home displays were used in most early pilots, and can be an effective form of feedback if combined with appropriate activities for education and awareness raising. They tend to be more expensive and much less flexible compared to use of existing communication devices such as mobile phones and computers.
- Applications for mobile devices such as texting/SMS (for traditional mobile phones) or more advanced presentation in html (for Smartphones or tablets), are usually less expensive as users use their own end devices for reception. They can also be integrated more seamlessly with users’ established behaviours.
- Web portals to be accessed through computers or smart mobile devices connected to the Internet offer the widest range of possibilities, e.g. in terms of personalisation of the presentation type and style, but need to be very well designed to avoid putting off users. Drawbacks include the need not only for Internet access but also for the skills and motivation required to use the Internet effortlessly and frequently.
- Since not all residents of social housing buildings will have Internet access, the television can be a suitable alternative for data presentation.
- In times when people easily feel that they are being bombarded with information online, paper-based letters can still be a very useful alternative, especially if not (only) data but practical recommendations are to be communicated.
- Other paper-based communication, including leaflets with practical hints and recommendations, can also still play an important role – if done well and well aligned with other presentation channels.
- Communication in-person can be applied, of course, only in combination with some of the channels above. Use of energy coaches can be a highly effective means of providing information with the objective of changing tenants’ energy consumption behaviour. Deployment of energy coaches is also recommended as a complement to feedback content which is complex and therefore not easy to understand and to translate into suitable behaviour. The more comprehensive and ambitious your project is, the more emphasis you should place on in-person communication.
Any feedback given to tenants needs to be consistent with the bills they later receive from the utilities, as the Empower Demand 2 report points out based on its comprehensive research into best practice:
*“Ultimately, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Regardless of all the feedback that a customer receives, if the bill that comes to them at the end of a billing period is higher than previously or higher than they expected, or even not noticeably lower than previously, then a customer will be discouraged or in the worst cases [...] even highly critical of the feedback programme.
A way to overcome this is to make billing as clear and informative as possible, […] which ultimately allows the customer to differentiate between increases in bills that are attributable to price increases as opposed to increases in consumption.”*
A requirement is any technical, organisational or user specific request. Requirements are collected using workshops and questionnaires and should be collected from all user groups as they might have different needs. Requirements are prioritised to identify critical and to organise work. Later in the process, the system can be compared against the list of highly prioritised requirements and if all are covered the tester can be confident that (at least from this view point) the system is fully functional.
The Guide offers a comprehensive list of almost 500 requirements collected from 28 pilot sites traceable by an ID. The necessary set is listed with each Use Case and Process Model so replicating stakeholders know what to look out for.
Methods for requirements capture¶
User requirements can be assessed in various ways:
- Workshops among professional staff – The first step should be a workshop between members of the implementation team plus professional staff who are responsible for day-to-day energy management in the building stock. The workshop should be used for preparation of subsequent involvement of members from the end-user target group (tenants/staff in case of EDSS).
- Focus group meetings: If you do not have much knowledge yet about users’ perceptions and opinions about energy consumption and saving, a series of focus groups is recommended as the next step for requirements capture. In smaller building units, it might be possible to include all tenants in a series of focus groups. More likely, however, you will need to make a selection.
- Questionnaire surveys: If the target group is big or there is strong diversity between individuals, focus groups should be complemented by a questionnaire survey targeted at the entire tenant base, possibly in combination with an open discussion at a general tenants assembly. The survey instrument should be used carefully, however, since there are risks: In particular, surveys can raise expectations about upcoming improvements and activities, resulting in frustration if the organisation issuing the research (e.g. housing company) is not prepared to or not able to meet expectations later. Questionnaire surveys can also raise fears and doubts as to what the real intention behind the interviews could be. With no representative of the housing company around to answer questions and provide context, such uncertainty can quickly turn into scepticism and opposition to innovations.
How to conduct a focus group meeting 
What are focus groups?
Focus groups are most often used as an input to design. A focus group involves encouraging an invited group of participants to share their thoughts, feelings, attitudes and ideas on certain subject, such as how to best save energy and cut utility bills. Organising focus groups within a social housing unit can also be very useful in getting buy-in to a project such as implementation of smart meter enabled energy efficiency and demand response services.
Advantages of focus groups
- Quick, cheap and relatively easy to assemble
- Good for getting rich data in participants’ own words and developing deeper insights
- Participants are able to build on one another’s responses, and they can act as checks and balances on one another
- Good for obtaining data from older people and people with low levels of literacy
- Provides an opportunity to involve people in the design process
Limitations of focus groups
- The responses of each participant are not independent
- A few dominant focus group members can skew the session
- A skilled and experienced moderator is required
- The data produced via a focus group needs to be carefully analysed
How to plan and prepare for focus groups
Invite around 5 to 10 people to participate for a session to last for about an hour. Then, prepare an agenda including a list of the top-level issues to be tackled (if appropriate). Prepare an introduction script explaining the purpose of the day and how the day will be run. This can include issues of consent. Be sure to always use a quiet room with few distractions and arrange people in a circle (possibly around a table).
Running focus groups
If appropriate, ask the participants to introduce themselves and/or wear name tags. Most importantly, all questions you ask should be open and neutral. It’s also important for the moderator to be aware of participants’ energy and concentration levels and provide short breaks if necessary. The moderator should encourage free-flowing discussion around the relevant issue(s). The moderator should also:
- Start on an issue people have strong feelings about and are familiar with
- Phrase issues in terms people will be familiar with
- Let participants know their contributions are valuable (both through what you say and also your body language)
- Step in and keep the session on-track if necessary
- Allow disagreements when they lead to new and interesting ideas, but manage them carefully
- Manage issues of power and privacy sensitively
- Focus groups should end with the moderator winding-up the session by stressing all that has achieved and casting it in a positive light.
A number of potential problems could arise during focus groups, which will all need addressing: * If one participant tries to dominate the session, the moderator should invite each person to speak in turn * Avoid interviewing friends in the same group as they can form cliques * Avoid personal confrontation – allow the group to police itself (e.g. “do others in the group agree?”) * Respect someone’s right to be quiet, but do give them a chance to share their ideas 1-to-1 (e.g. during a break) * Use differences of opinion as a topic of discussion – the moderator should avoid taking sides
How to encourage discussion
To facilitate useful, free-flowing discussion during the focus group, follow some of these tips:
- Ask participants to think about an issue for a few minutes and write down their responses
- Ask each participant to read, and elaborate on, one of their responses
- Note the responses on a flipchart/whiteboard
- Once everyone has given a response, participants will be asked for a second or third response, until all of their answers have been noted
- These responses can then be discussed
How to report The minutes, or a summary document, should be produced for each session. A report should be written up, containing relevant profile information about the people who attended the session.
|||Adapted from: WebCredible (2013) ‘Focus groups - how to run them’, URL: http://www.webcredible.co.uk/ and Work Group for Community Health and Development (2013) ‘Community Tool Box’, URL: http://ctb.ku.edu/|
Generic User Characteristics¶
A key determinant of user requirements are the main characteristics of social housing tenants. Research using large-scale surveys of social housing tenants across Europe established evidence for these features:
- A large share of social housing tenants are above 60 years of age – typically around 40%;
- By definition, social housing tenants have levels of income that are significantly below the national average, and many live on social security benefits;
- Available data suggest that even today, more than one in two social housing tenants in the EU has no home access to a computer and the Internet. Those who have access tend to have low levels of digital literacy;
- A significant share of social housing tenants are from ethnic minorities and has limited capability to use the national language of their resident country;
- Directly associated with the four factors above, educational attainment levels are below national average.
Currently, smart gadgets are an up-market development performed with modernisations or with expensive add-on devices (e.g. NEST). It is therefore important to keep all groups in mind. The following non-functional requirements are typically relevant for the following groups:
Large group of older people
- System/service design and dialogues should be compatible with user expectations (e.g. consistent dialogues)
- Users should be able to determine pace and sequence of the interaction with the system/service
- Similar functions should act the same throughout the system/service
- Avoid memory overload through avoiding multiple steps to perform an action
- Minimise workload through well organised desktop / displays
- High contrast between characters and background
- Alerts and warning messages: flash rather than have it come on and stay on
- Avoid extraneous design: display only relevant graphics
- Use familiar icons and symbols, e.g. traffic lights; avoid long text messages
- Positioning of labels, icons, text messages should be consistent
- Avoid jargon or unfamiliar terms; use non-technical language
- Text on buttons should be descriptive (“send message” instead of “send”)
- Use colours thoroughly and bear in mind colour blind people. A status should (hot = red, cold = blue) but also with associated text.
Large group of low income earners
- Need for directing motivational measures towards increasing service usage (e.g. monetary presentation of consumption in € to show saving potential at user level)
- Need for awareness raising about wider benefits of energy saving
Low home-based internet access rate
- Alternative service access channels enabling to cater for given local peculiarities/circumstances
- Options include set-up of public terminals for Internet access at entrance of buildings, access via TV, mobile phone applications, paper based information together with housing company brochure/newsletter
- Capacity building specifically tailored towards novice users (e.g. low-threshold training measures where subsidised/donated access channels are provided)
Migrants highly represented
- Provide clearly visible language button (country flag) at the start of the service use
- Need for service/interface design that allows to cater for language/cultural diversity
- Need for capacity building specifically tailored towards users with restricted language capacities
- Use of Plain Language (see below)
Low education levels over represented
- Use of Plain Language, i.e. language that emphasises clarity, brevity, and avoidance of technical terms.
- All use of language should be in a way that is easily understood by the target audience: clear and straightforward, appropriate to their reading skills and knowledge, free of wordiness, cliché and needless jargon.
An interactive Excel tool to collect, prioritise and trace requirements (by Use Case) is available at empirica. Among others, it can also be used for surveys among staff and to calculate the result.
Any use of the list below must reference empirica GmbH.
Selecting Use Cases¶
Each use case describes one particular scenario in which the user interacts with the system. A use case is described with a summary and the flow of events. Any precautions taken to respond to mistakes by either the system or the user which do not resemble the base flow of events will be described as well. Each use case has a unique ID and name. Each use case matches exactly one process model.
Use cases and process models were developed in parallel: Input gathered from process models was implemented in the use cases and vice versa. Either presents the full complexity of the scenario across all pilot sites implementing this particular scenario. Hence, certain sites might not cover all steps or implement the flow slightly differently.
Your system does not have to implement the entire complexity to deploy a certain feature. Some steps cover specialised elements and can be “cut out” or come with an “upgrade” later.
The Guide offers a comprehensive list of 49 Use Cases (with Process Models and Requirements) collected from 28 pilot sites traceable by an ID.
Over the years, empirica has managed 28 pilot sites. We have summarises all typical scenarios in one common format which can be adopted and adjusted. The full detail of UML and BPMN documentation and typically necessary requirements ca be found in section Use Cases.
Define roles & responsibilities of (sub)contractor / provider to avoid conflict and cost
- Hierarchies established avoid additional / unstructured communication
- Not allocated tasks induce costs, create conflicts between contractors and can bring work to an halt (potentially with knock-on effects)
- The effect is stronger where language barriers exist.
- Outline responsibilities of key stakeholders and their exact roles in the project early on.
- Definitions should follow the role/function of the actor within the project, not the structure of the consortium.
- Each partner can play several roles, but potential role conflicts need to be identified and subsequently addressed at planning stage.
Initial site visits should be the most accurate possible
- Conditionas in historical buildings and those with exhibitions can changewhich is not desirable, e.g. in museums
- Placing sensors gets tricky because changing appearance might change measuring conditions (e.g. air flows for temperature)
- Existing plans might not be accurate and local staff is aware while you are not > potential source for tension / conflict
- Validate your understanding of plans with local building staff to avoid misunderstandings
- Building staff are dealing with the building on day-to-day basis, so they know in many cases what is best because they have operational experienc
Survey infrastructure and contracts in place
- Existing communication channel might be used to transfer metering data to central server
- If improvements benefit others, support for project increases and reduces cost
- Do not only survey metering devices
- Survey communication contracts and needs in building
Fully label meters, sensors etc
- Whilst billing meters have imprinted numbers additional metering for zones might not
- If confusion arises between device and data, it endangers the service
- If user notices data must be wrong, trust is loss
- Clearly label each device and record number and location along in database
- Testing procedure should include test validating hardware recording and data stored in database
Develop one simple visualisation which works everywhere
- People feel immediately confident that they understand the output of the service: motivation
- Changes to the graphic are immediately recognised which creates a feedback loop
- Users immediately understand information in new context (e.g. different building, resource)
- Create one graphic which reduces the number of variables needed to understand
- Make this visualisation the default view at start page
- In back-end and residential context consider bar-chart in monetary terms
- Same graph and default time period should be used for varying resources
Visualise high consumers
- If alarms are too frequent, Professional might set threshold higher - quick view sometimes easier and a backup
- Awareness of normal users can focused by showing the impact of one single consumer
- Provide small graphic of high consumers on one dashboard for Professional in backend
- Push-alarms might be possible based on such graphics
- Consider adding a meter for large consumers
Do not rely on availibilty of modern software
- Institutions do not necessarily allow, for instance, modern browsers
- Same applies for protocols supported by servers, backbones, routers etc.
- Reduce dependency and try to use standard technology
- Clearly define the requirements so ICT can check
Take user testing seriously
- Testers are new users and they show you where they fail
- Recording their requirements makes sure feateres which are wanted are to be developed
- During different stages of the project find test users that have not seen the displays before and ask them to do a sense check
- Keep in touch with old testers for them to check your new version
- Review their feedback and consider changes
- Use standardised routines including referencing requiremetns
Documentation of the technical equipment and machines is important
- ICT in mechanical part is often new
- Responsible do not know where to add or check information
- Retracing will be more expensive
- Integrate new hardware into existing documentation routines
- Inform professionals on where to find documentation, gives control / increases motivation
Some managers prefer to control the access to energy information
- Information about energy consumption remains limited to a few staff
- This hinders other staff / recipients of this information to look at the raw data to come to their own conclusions
- Communicate that control remains in the hands of managers
- Openly negotiate and agree on what access is permitted for all users
- Ask what the worries are and if there is reason compromise
- Present other benefits such as empowering staff, getting people interested, etc.
Take-up & use¶
Take-up & use covers the period of deploying the service, recruiting users and operation.
Confirmation Timelines and Contract¶
Ensure that all required roles are properly covered and reflected in formal agreements or contracts, as applicable. Formal agreements should also be made about the deadlines for service provision and finalisation of activities, including:
Preparation of installation & operation
For each building (with the exception of testing), the following items must be agreed with the trades and contractors to be invited.
- Prototype testing without users
- Prototype testing with users
- Dwellings/Zones: Equipment installation (a) (e.g. meters)
- Dwellings/Zones: Equipment installation (b)(e.g. wiring)
- Buildings: Equipment installation (a) (e.g. concentrators)
- Buildings: Equipment installation (b) (e.g. wiring)
- Distribution of Consent forms
- Collection & validation of consent forms
- Selection of site for on-site testing
- On-site testing
- Feedback platform (e.g. Web portal) going online
- EDSS: Pilot Operation Start
- EMS: Pilot Operation Start
- add any other relevant activity here ...
Test the System¶
For testing the system to be implemented, it is important to define the scope in advance. This includes the following factors, to be documented in a pilot test plan. This should comprise the Dimensions tested:
- Perceived utility from system users’ viewpoint.
The test plan should also define the process of Recruitment of test persons from the target groups such as Tenant (T) / Staff (S) and Professional (P).
It is desirable to involve several members of each group in the test process either individually (individual testing) or as groups (joint testing).
Prototype set-up: Typically, the prototype technology to be tested is the visualisation of energy data to tenants, property managing and energy services companies through energy awareness system applications (such as web portals, mobile apps, in-home displays, etc) and/or energy management systems.
Test Regime – Walk-through with Use Cases: Prototype testing is carried out as walk-through the Use Cases and the related processes from the process models. Participants should be invited and encouraged to ask questions and comment at appropriate stages along the way. After completion of the demonstration/walk-through an open discussion should be encouraged where the participants have the opportunity to ask further questions to the presenters and together with the presenters elaborate on specific system features of interest.
Location: There are various options for where testing to take place. The selection of an appropriate location should take into account:
- Availability of technical infrastructure;
- Number of participants;
- Time available;
For prototype testing, test protocols based on the defined use cases are drawn up. The implemented test prototype is subjected to laboratory based testing:
- firstly without users, for which purpose end-user and staff input is simulated or generated automatically as appropriate;
- secondly with users from all target groups (tenants, social housing staff etc.).
The prototype is aimed to provide system users with a detailed view of the proposed system solutions in order to provide feedback on their usability, functionality and an assessment of the value for system users. Results help to drive system implementation to ensure successful start of pilot operation.
The test plan should provide all use case diagrams and descriptions for EDSS and EMS, as prepared during the Technical set-up phase. Besides the use cases also the requirements following from user characteristics should be tested on-site.
Feedback from the sessions needs to be collected in a structured format. For this purpose, a user questionnaire should be developed for gathering feedback from test users, containing questions on the user experience and covering all applicable use cases. Make sure to use closed questions (i.e. multiple response) wherever possible but also plan in open questions to allow for response about issues not foreseen by the developers. For every use case test persons are asked to:
- Run through the steps comprising the specific use case;
- Provide feedback on their experience using a Likert scale (e.g. from 1– very low to 5 – very high) and separately for usability, functionality and utility;
- Provide feedback on any features missing from a user perspective;
- [for system providers only] Provide feedback on integration of the new solutions with existing systems to be retained and operational/business processes;
- Add further notes in free-form text, containing remarks, suggestion, etc. (optionally).
With the interactive list of requirements from empirica you can track each requirements and their fulfilment (and relevance).
User statements and test results will then be fed back into the evaluation and (if necessary) final development process.
The on-site test represents the final test phase in which all the functional and non-functional requirements should be addressed in the prototype system implementations to be tested. To do so, the generic used case diagrams and descriptions are to be adapted to the implementation context.
Whereas the prototype testing phase focuses on some specific aspects of the systems behaviour, on-site testing is aimed to provide a comprehensive overview on the fulfilment of almost all the requirements defined at earlier stages of the implementation project. In order to guarantee smooth operation the testing is designed to reveal problems that might arise from the particular situation of equipment, communication networks, and the organisational environment in which the service staff work. On-site testing follows a similar methodology as prototype testing, but the applications run with data from the installed metering equipment in real pilot operation.
On-site testing should be carried out by the equipment/ICT provider in cooperation with key service provider / housing staff. A reporting template has to be developed to allow pilot managers to report on the testing of the following key issues:
- Test of the measuring equipment correctness after installation at pilot site. Incorrect measurements may result from faulty installation, equipment failure or unacceptable bias. For this a number of checks have to be performed, e.g. comparison of readings of installed meters with that of the utility over a certain period; cross-check measurements using portable network analysers, etc. Heat metering measurement correctness can be verified using cross-comparison of main and individual meters. Heat cost allocators do not directly measure heat flows and cannot be compared explicitly for correctness at the pilot site, so their accuracy should rely on approved quality procedures of the manufacturers and suppliers of these devices.
- Test the connectivity of pilot site equipment. This includes the check for user account configuration to visualise the correct data to the correct user (data mapping), the capability of the system to detect communication failures and the data storage capacity (buffer time) of the data acquisition equipment in case of communication failure. The appropriate configuration of the system is checked to avoid problems with data loss during operation.
- Test of service applications at pilot site level. The testing of the application at pilot site level should be performed by the pilot operating staff following the methodology described in the previous point, in order to serve as a final approval.
- Test of the organisational environment for service operation. The roles of each participant in the service at the pilot site are clearly outlined and their preparation for service is reported. A set of common operational problem scenarios is checked in order to test the preparation of the pilot organisation for service delivery.
The results are then summarised in order to calculate average level of satisfaction for each use case. Further improvements focus on addressing testers’ feedback and improving the implementation of the use cases that they were less satisfied with.
Well informed employees who interact with users play a key role for the success of the implementation. When in contact with consumers, staff should be able to answer standard as well as site-specific questions. There should also be a thorough understanding about the benefits of smart metering to all parties concerned, as well as a common vision revolving around responsibility for the environment and commitment to the interests of tenants – especially if these are households at risk of fuel poverty.
Type and scope of staff training can take several forms and depends on the services to be implemented. Of course, technical staff needs to be trained in any new system to be implemented. Importantly, housing company employees who are in direct, day-to-day contact with tenants need to be trained as tenants are most likely to approach them first when they experience problems or have open questions. Back-office staff will need to understand the system so that they can administer changes of customer data, for instance when tenants move out or in. The staff installing the meters should be properly trained as well so that they can answer consumers’ questions but – importantly! – also communicate the advantages of the technology rather than contribute to feelings of concern and uncertainty.
Ensure maintenance |ss| and |sp| are aware of the project
- If not aware, they might consider service as a tool to replace them
- They can be core users with workable knowledge of buildings
- Explain how savings make sure that budget cuts will not be necessary
- Offer training and reduce fear of not being able to handle ICT
- Make, occasionaly, service an agenda item at meetings in department
Workshop size and organisation
- Group training enables users to exchange also after session
- For Professional: small groups of 6-7 (ideally a working team)
- For regular users: mid-sized groups of 12-17 (ideally neigbhours)
- Provide small gifts (e.g. mugs) with link as reminder about service
... .. include:: lesson/p4infodesk.txt .. include:: lesson/p4complexity.txt
This period covers the monitoring and ensuring success by implementing procedures and keeping information flowing. This also includes finding the next opportunity and hidden benefits.
At any time during service operation, problems can occur, be it with users, data delivery and quality or system maintenance. To prevent tenants from losing interest in the services implemented, the implementation team should maintain close contact to tenants and professional users. A pro-active approach to addressing emerging problems is highly recommended.
If not done already, a “Help Desk” should be set up and the checklists filled as part of Preparing Operation should be revised.
Impacts on Energy Efficiency and GHG emissions¶
Tracking results of initiatives for implementation of smart metering is a powerful tool to underscore their efficacy and promote public awareness. Tracked results can also be used as a rationale for obtaining additional funding or for gaining public support for a broader portfolio of programs.
The methodology for conducting measurement of the system’s impact on energy efficiency consists of the following components:
- Definition of ratios, terms and options;
- Presentation of relevant general methodologies;
- Calculations of energy savings based on pre-post comparisons including the definition of baseline and reporting period, the methods for (temperature) adjustments and the consideration of different situations;
- Definition of a control-group design as additional or alternative source of estimation;
- Alternative options of savings calculations if neither pre-post comparisons nor control groups are appropriate;
- Determination of further relevant parameters (persistence, statistical data analysis);
- Methodology for demand response estimation (peak demand reduction);
- Methodology for the estimation of avoided CO2 emissions.
It is recommended to make use of internationally accepted standards for evaluation of an intervention’s impacts on energy consumption. The International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) appears to be most suitable for the purpose at hand.
empirica has designed and hosts an online tool which applies IPMVP methodology such as correcting for heating degree days. The tool is called eeMeasure and all results of the projects referenced in Guide can be found its website.
Follow the link for a detailed introduction into International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol.
In order to calculate changes in energy consumption in consequence of an intervention a comparison of measured energy consumption data before (baseline period) and after the intervention start (reporting period) is useful. Of importance is to ensure that comparable baseline consumption data are available. In the best of cases both baseline and reporting period cover full operating cycles (e.g. one heating period or one year.
To ensure the conclusion that energy savings are caused by the system installed, all other conditions influencing energy consumption have to be identical in both baseline and reporting period (ceteris paribus). Furthermore the measurement of data itself has to be the same or has to be on a comparable basis in both periods.
In practice, this means that comparisons of e.g. heating energy consumption between two or more heating periods (e.g. pre-post-comparisons) require an adjustment which accounts for the fact that climate conditions are bound to differ between both periods. This is called temperature adjustment. Different methods for this are in use.
The methodology most widely used in Europe is the Heating Degree Day (HDD) Calculation Model. Heating degree days are typical indicators of household energy consumption for space heating. The air temperature in a building is on average 2°C to 3°C higher than that of the air outside. A temperature of 18°C indoors corresponds to an outside temperature of about 15.5° C. If the air temperature outside is 1°C below 15.5°C, then heating is required to maintain a temperature of about 18°C. If the outside temperature is 1°C below the average temperature it is accounted as 1 degree-day. The sum of the degree days over periods such as a month or an entire heating season is used in calculating the amount of heating required for a building.
Degree Days are also used to estimate air conditioning usage during the warm season. Instructions how to apply the model are available from IPMVP or from eeMeasure.
If no adequate baseline energy consumption data are available – for example in case of new constructions or due to different measurement methods/technologies – a control building methodology allows obtaining comparable energy consumption data.
A control building is a similar building which roughly matches the characteristics of the building to be evaluated (e.g. kind of building, location, equipment, insulation, heating system, relation of public and private areas). The control building should also more or less match the building to be evaluated in terms of socio-demographic characteristics of tenants.
In the best of cases the only difference between both experimental and control building is the availability / absence of an intervention (ceteris paribus conditions). The advantage of a control building design is – as its name implies – that the impact of an intervention can be controlled for other influencing effects, and that no temperature adjustment is required if data is collected for the same reporting period.
The goal of Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) is to find the point in time when the investment pays off but also potentials for further savings. It divides the analysis in a qualitative and a quantitative part. The approach presented here follows recommendations by the European Commission.
empirica has numerous tools, including a comprehensive CBA, covering all resources, supporting numerous stakeholders, CAPEX, OPEX and other indicators.
The European Commission published recommendations regarding the ‘Recommendation on preparations for the roll-out of smart metering systems’ [2012/148/EU]  containing details focusing on the cost-benefit analysis of smart metering deployment. The document is widely based on two Joined Research Centre (JCR) studies providing guidelines on conducting cost-benefit analysis of smart grid projects  and smart metering deployment. 
The content and the application of EC recommendations is described in more detail in deliverable D8.3.
In accordance with Directive 2009/72/EC, Member States were expected to complete, by 3rd September 2012, a cost- benefit assessment of the roll-out of smart metering systems. In order to facilitate the assessment , the EC issued recommendations - described in the following section - in order to improve the depth and comparability of analyses. As suggested by the Smart Grid Task Force , the criteria contain quantifiable indicators.
Although the recommendations are focusing upon a nation-wide deployment, or in the case of electricity on smart grids (including production and transmission), the SMARTSPACES CBA almost fully follows these recommendations. In fact, in many aspects the tool goes beyond the proposed indicators. Results gathered by the SMARTSPACES analysis can be useful for any nation-wide and European assessment of smart metering and full-scale smart grid deployments.
Tailoring to local conditions¶
Any authority designated for this task should examine and consider appropriate pilot programmes and other ‘real-life’ experience that exists to fine-tune assumptions and results. At least two forecast scenarios should be considered, one of them being ‘business as usual’ (‘do nothing and nothing happens’). Any scenarios should take into account synergies between existing and future energy-saving measures along with other forms of feedback and advice to consumers, especially the introduction of frequent billing or cost statements based on actual consumption rather than flat rates or estimated consumption.
Cost-benefit analysis (CBA)¶
The CBA should follow the supporting guidelines (7 steps) which are presented further below. Further requirements are to document calculations; explicitly state any costs which might have to be incurred by customers and compare these with long-term benefits. The Commission also provides a non-exhaustive list of indicators.
A sensitivity analysis has to identify the critical variables first and report the magnitude of the variable ranges. Additionally, volatility responses and control measures to keep values of variables within desired range could be considered in the analysis. (This is more relevant for very large investments or macro-economic dimensions. Otherwise, the indicator’s share of total cost is usually a good orientation.)
Indicators proposed by the EC¶
Various indicators are being proposed by the EC document based on the research performed by the JRC. Since the methodology is designed as a CBA for nation-wide roll-outs of smart metering, certain indicators are not relevant for SMARTSPACES project (or the partners were not granted access by external parties to data required). For instance, electricity transmission is not relevant. It has to be pointed out that most indicators listed in the recommendations focus on electricity only.
|||2012/148/EU: Commission recommendation on preparations for the roll-out of smart metering systems. Official Journal L 73, 13/03/2012, p. 9.|
|||European Commission — Joint Research Centre Institute for Energy and Transport (2012). ‘Guidelines for conducting a cost-benefit analysis of smart grid projects’, available at: http://ses.jrc.ec.europa.eu/|
|||European Commission — Joint Research Centre Institute for Energy and Transport (2012). ‘Guidelines for cost- benefit analysis of smart metering deployment’, available at: http://ses.jrc.ec.europa.eu/|
In the area of exploitation or business planning and development there exists a plethora of technical terms and concepts, the meaning of which can – depending on author and circumstances – vary to a great extent. This section aims at providing a concentrated overview of some selected terms, widely used within business framework
“Strategy is the direction and scope of an organisation over the long-term: which achieves advantage for the organisation through its configuration of resources within a challenging environment, to meet the needs of markets and to fulfil stakeholder expectations”.  It deals with challenges of:
- Where the business is trying to get to in the long-term – its direction
- Which markets it should be in – its market
- Which activities are involved in the markets – its scope
- How the business should perform better than the competition in those markets – its advantage
- Which resources of skills, assets, finance, relationships, technical competence and facilities are needed to compete – its resources
- What external, environmental factors affect the businesses’ ability to compete – its environment
- Which values and expectations are held by those who have power in and around the business – its stakeholders
In the framework of strategic planning, SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis plays a particular role in assessing a company’s internal position and evaluating external environmental influences. “The investigation of the internal environment will accordingly result in an overview of all weaknesses and strengths of the company, while the investigation of the external environment will result in an overview of all opportunities and threats. These are the results of the SWOT-analysis.” 
In this context, internal environment comprises of factors and variables within company itself (e.g. company’s structure, culture and resource; customers; shareholders; etc.), while external environment entails aspects outside the company (e.g. technology; politics; society; economy; etc.), which the company itself may not have under control in the short run.
- Strengths – definition of areas the company or organization excels in:
- key priorities
- key competences
- competitive advantages in the market.
- resources, assets and people
- unique selling proposition
- Weaknesses – evaluation of company’s liabilities and own known vulnerabilities:
- what the company can improve
- what it should avoid
- gaps in capabilities
- financial reliability
- factors influencing weakening of competitive strength or market reputation
- Opportunities – spot useful opportunities in market developments and interesting trends
- possibilities to enter new markets
- advanced developments in technology and innovation
- changes in government policies
- potential partnerships, joint ventures or strategic alliances
- competitors’ vulnerabilities
- Threats – assessment of potential challenges and monitoring of competitors
- encountered obstacles
- influence of political, legislative or environmental changes
- ability to adapt with changing technology
- cash-flow or debts problems
- influence of economic volatilities home and abroad
|||Johnson, G., Scholes, K. and Whittington, R. (2008): Exploring Corporate Strategy: Texts and Cases, 8th edition, ISBN: 978-0273711925, p. 3.|
|||Houben, G., Lenie, K. And Vanhoof K. (1999): “A knowledge-based SWOT-analysis system as an instrument for strategic planning in small and medium sized enterprises”. Decision Support Systems 26:125–135, p. 126.|
The main purpose of the business case modelling exercise is to inform service development as far as requirements from the business side are concerned and to ensure that these requirements are met to the greatest possible extent. This includes the analysis of service costs and benefits of different actors, the due consideration of financing means and the re-modelling of the service concept to ensure economic viability.
In methodological regard the approach is built around a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) that was chosen over alternative approaches (such as cost-effectiveness analysis and cost-utility analysis) because it allows for adopting a multi-stakeholder perspective, i.e. costs and benefits can be analysed separately for different actors. This is of particular advantage in the fragmented environment for energy efficiency measures, where many different actors (tenants, social housing companies, measurement and service providers, the IT industry and others) are involved, whose costs and benefits need to be balanced individually to achieve a viable and sustainable service model.
In brief: socio-economic return¶
Socio-economic return describes the relative benefits to the necessary costs of any given investment. The majority of indicators covered in the cost-benefit analysis can be directly expressed in financial terms (capital costs and labour) but the tool also covers intangibles which are socio-economic benefits expressed in monetary terms (e.g. convenience). All values are net present discounted over time.
The graphs for the total socio-economic return presented for each pilot site are based on the costs and benefits occurring within the pilot site (not including EC-funding). If the sum of all costs within a year is higher than the sum of all benefits the graph’s path will be below the zero line. The investment breaks even as soon as the cumulated benefits of all years, up to the point in time, become equal with the costs. Once the graph reaches 100%, the benefits are twice as high as the costs (e.g. 100EUR costs and 200EUR benefits) and so on. The underlying formulae and detailed descriptions can be found in deliverable D8.3.
In principle, a CBA values all the effects of both the reference scenario and of the intervention. The intervention should only be implemented if the present value of the benefits exceeds the present value of the costs, so that the intervention yields a socio-economic profit.
Concept and (most) basic Calculation¶
The key indicator for the assessment is the (socio-) economic return putting additional benefit and cost in context. Additional costs and benefits are the amounts which result from the change caused by intervention: For instance, the old meter costs 100€ while the new meter costs 110€. In this case only the 10€ difference is “relevant” for the cost-benefit analysis since the first 100€ would have been spent regardless – the same principle applies to benefits. The sum of all additional benefits needs to be compared with the sum of all additional costs. This calculation is summarised with the simple formula.
The result of this formula is a percentage which indicates whether the return is negative (-100% to 0%), the intervention does not change the cost return (0%) or whether the return is positive (>0%). A 100% return implies that the investment paid back completely and that the additionally generated benefit equals the additional cost, hence, the benefit is twice as high as the cost. The table provides examples for possible results.
Linear profit with high implementation costs
In the graphical representation below, the path starts below zero which implies that the implementation (and operation) costs - in the first year - are higher than overall profits combined until the paths crosses the zero-line (break even) in year 3. Since the path is constantly increasing it can be concluded that benefits are higher than the operational costs occurring each year.
Regular replacement of equipment
As illustrated, the path in the graph below shows regular dips on the total return in years 2015 and 2019. These most likely coincide with the year of certain equipment (e.g. metering) which needs to be replaced / maintained due to the end of the lifetime. Other observations are similar to the first scenario described above.
Two options are available depending on whether the reader already has smart meters.
No (smart) metering: Upgrading the building portfolio¶
The majority of buildings in a municipality do already exist. Only a fraction (<2%) is being renovated every year. Even if the rate would increase it would take decades before the consumption of the existing building portfolio would be reduced. ICT-enabled services are an option to reduce the consumption by several per cent often paying off without additional costs. Any savings will reduce the environmental impact of the municipality and make the public body ‘lead by example’. The common misconception is that ICT-services wish to replace potentially higher savings achieved with measures requiring construction efforts: This is not the case. Both efforts have their justification and contribute to savings in different ways.
A key requirement is a sufficient amount of metering infrastructure of which the data recorded can be linked to a heating / cooling system or the consumption behaviour from a certain group of people. This is usually achieved by dividing the building into zones (Hagen). Depending on the resource a different number of zones might be advisable. Decide whether the metering is to be kept in-house (see business model) or provided by a third party. If another party is involved (e.g. ESCO) try to create an incentive for the company to achieve savings with the infrastructure (e.g. contracting) hereby also ensuring that not more hardware is installed than necessary.
Business model to consider: Some municipalities are paying large fees for measurement and billing. In some pilots replacing these external devices by council owned meters paid of within a few years avoiding fees. This would also ensure that data access as well as (temporary) increase of frequency is easier to accomplish (Murcia).
In some countries (and resources), smart metering is / will be compulsory (e.g. UK). Make sure the investment does serve another purpose but to meet regulation. If you still have influence on where and how many meters to install, consider questions above and based on the building type.
Smart metering already available¶
The conclusion is simple. Deploy an ICT-enabled EDSS service. The data is already available and the municipality is paying for it: You need find the party storing the data. The frequency of the meter readings might be adjustable for your needs without changes to the contract.
There are numerous energy platforms already available on the market and flexible to adopt existing data based minimising the development effort (Bristol) and cost. The centralised platform can be made available to the staff within in the municipality network. The graphics provided will enable professionals to understand their own building better. Try to recruit ‘champions’ who will search for irregularities and act upon it. Once buildings with unusually high consumption are identified, raise awareness with campaigns.
EDSS can also be used for transparency regarding consumption and to educate the wider public about energy consumption. Provide a kiosk system for visitors and tell them on how they can reduce energy at home (Belgrade). This might be especially useful in countries in which individualised metering is unknown.
A basic form of EMS should also be implemented. Allow professionals to set alarms notifying them about irregularities regarding consumption (and production). This will increase the speed with which wastage is detected. Utilise the data gathered also in future planning such as decision on where and how to modernise buildings.
Business model to consider: The majority of cost is due regardless of whether you provide a service (meters, communication fees). Find a supplier, maybe a local start-up / SME, to implement and host a portal, and make energy consumption data available based on a simple licence fee.
Depending on the total consumption, ICT-enabled services provide benefits for varying reasons. Total consumption can be driven by various factors (e.g. size, visitors, age, for heat/cold insulation/piping/technology etc.) which can be combined in many different ways. Trying to cover all combinations would reduce the number of cases in a city. Since the total number of public buildings in one municipality is already small, coherency is much more important than (pretended) plausibility.
Heat / Cold / Ventilation¶
Heat and cold and air are being produced on site (or pumped through a grid). This also means that the boilers and associated equipment are within the permit of the building. The market for these products has increased dramatically over the years as more and more heating concepts exist. More buildings are now heated by a heat pump (consuming electricity) and a small gas boiler only exists to cover when it turns very cold. However, empirica observed in residential and public buildings that the error of gas boilers frequently firing seems to persist. With regard to programming it is rational to assume a worst case scenario if measurement values are not reliable and boilers often only rely on their own sensors.
ICT-enabled services can ensure that data is always available and any firing of the planned traced back so, should another fault exist, this can be identified. As for larger and often smarter boilers, the adaptation of heating curves (Hagen, Venlo), can bear huge saving potentials as any wrong setting will automatically have a huge effect on consumption in large buildings.
Modern appliances are often connected to IP-networks or can receive signals through the plug. For instance, IP-telephones in office buildings can work as a measure of occupancy. The worker needs to turn off the phone and as a result all devices linked to the phones are also shut-down (Milan).
With advances in LED street-light and lighting concepts, a wide range of solutions is possible. The challenge is now more in integrating other services into the lamps which can work as network access points and wireless repeaters in sensitive environments such as hospitals (Moulins).
In any regular public building, water consumption should be somewhat a constant. Consumption is limited to restrooms and maybe smaller kitchens. Hence, metering does not need to be divided into many zones unless different parts of the building are sometimes shut-down (e.g. weekend) whilst others remain operational. For instance, a sports hall might be used all week for competitions whilst the school is closed. In such a case, no consumption should occur in the school whilst showers and restrooms are being used in the sports hall even on a weekend.
Regardless, metering on wider level helps to identify whether any wastage occurred by using simple alarms (EMS) and / or regular checks of consumption (EDSS). Moreover, comparison between buildings allows identifying whether there are considerable differences of average per head consumption. This might be interesting in schools to check which one has the best approach to educate their pupils etc.
Public display of consumption – at least in a portal – will also act as social control and maybe remind the individual to close the tap whilst washing their hands.
Depending on the building type / quality different cases can be made for a deployment of ICT-enabled services.
Old / wasteful buildings¶
Older buildings are often heritage sites and therefore protected (Birmingham). These buildings coped with weather and requirements for a long time. Those wasteful buildings which are modern (e.g. concrete structure from the 60-70es) have not been renovated for a number of years so it might be worthwhile applying services to reduce the wastage and smoothen the consumption patterns. ICT is replaceable should the day come in which the building is going to be replaced.
Any of these buildings probably suffer from large heat losses. Since the piping is older the probability of any water leakage also increases. In old buildings any work on walls is met with regulation and usually higher costs as more labour and selective materials must be ordered. As for renovation, the outside facade of a heritage building can, often, not be modified. Savings have to be achieved with other means and the higher the consumption the larger are the benefits of any savings even if it is only a few percent.
As these buildings are probably larger (museums, administrative buildings) it is recommended to divide the buildings into several zones so that a leakage cannot only be detected but also tracked down. The data gathered for several zones might also bring evidence on how to heat/cool the building as consumption can strongly depend on the impact of sunlight and wind.
New / highly managed constructions¶
Most new buildings have to have smart-metering installed. Hence, it is wise to make the technology part of the overall concept and ensure that the EMS can control the services installed.
Business model to consider: If the design and planning contractor is not capable of providing the ICT, employ a specialised SME such as :abbr:`ESCO (Energy Service Cooperation)`s as these are also open to fixed price and / or contracting models.
New buildings are also likely to have a consumption target defined by the architects and designers. Such targets are not always met. The SMARTSPACES service can be used to verify and to identify possible wrong doing and correct any errors enforcing accountability or promises made. Examples show also that the service makes re-adjustments of heating systems etc more successful (Hagen).
Buildings which need to be managed (e.g. swimming pools) might already have the ability to also manage the energy consumption (Istanbul).
Extremely efficient buildings consume less in total and any percent savings is therefore a smaller absolute amount. However, in relative terms behaviour plays a much more important role than in regular buildings. Leaving the window open will increase the total consumption dramatically as a single hole in the insulation will let a lot of hot air escape.
Another issue arises with the different systems interacting to achieve the efficiency. Often two systems divide the work: one for the base load, the other for the peaks. If the systems are not adjusted properly, the peak system might jump in too often. As it is not designed to be turned on often or run long, it is also more likely to break down sooner and add to the cost (Venlo).
In the future it is more likely that the market will create incentives for those operating renewables also to consume the energy locally. This has a stabilising effect on the grid as the renewables are often produced at similar times (e.g. noon). This can be achieved by smart devices controlled by an EMS or by signals received or by small local storage. The latter can be charged during peak supply and emptied during peak demand.
High number of visitors¶
Administrative buildings and sport facilities have a diverse range of visitors. It is advisable to provide the general public not only with transparency regarding the consumption of the building but also offer a ‘Kiosk’ system on which the visitor can play an energy efficiency quiz or learn about how certain building systems at home work. The waiting time would then be translated in to an awareness raising campaign (Belgrade).
Reguarly evaluate progress
- Service in place does not mean it is being used
- All users initially approached with campaings might be replaced due to changes
- Central evaluation recognises larger opportunities including investements
- Use a standardised approach
- Communicate results to Professional and other users
- If efficency drops, identify reasons and if necessary make users aware of service
- Use data to compare progress over time or between buildings
Make sure success in saving energy is perceived as teamwork
- A service without users’s action has no effect, make sure motivation stays up
- Vice-versa: Improvements may raise the question why these have not been reached earlier and can make the responsible for energy efficiency appear in a bad light
- Finally, if one building is successful and everybody knows it, it is also a way to motivate those in a new building
- Communicate the success and clearly state that the “users” have achieved it
- Communicate that these savings have been achieved with the service and were not possible without
- Make this statements also in a public in a press release etc
Keep a contact point open
- There will always be new users and they should have an easy access point
- Re-use materials
- Use a video channel to explain functionality which can be moderated by a champion
Convince users to replicate good action at home
- Some lessons are universal and the trick can be applied eslewhere
- One user communicating the advice to another person is a duplication of awareness
- Keep a public website or kiosk for general advice
- Use quizes to test knowledge
- Suggest energy saving games with children
- Do not overload - one hint at a time so action can be structured by anyone
Check if other departments might benefit from your infrastructure, resources
- Impact, for instance
- Newly implemented communication protocols could be used in different context
- Data might be used to create checks other than energy (e.g. security, usage of rooms)
- Approach those often working in building and ask what they wish they would know about their place - be creative
- Approach any departments visiting for maintenance / service