The pilot site Manresa consists of three buildings in the capital of the Bages comarca. The first building was finished in 2010; the second was finished in October 2011, while the third one was finished in the middle of 2007. All blocks were built according to modern energy efficiency standards (including good insulation, natural ventilation, and glazed galleries). Each building has a centralised heating installation with a centralized solar thermal system and low temperature condensing boilers back up support systems. This centralized installation provides Space Heating and Domestic Hot Water to each dwelling. Metering and control equipment have been installed within distribution closets placed at the block stairs and inside the apartments. Individual thermostats providing indoor temperatures and instantaneous energy consumption are installed in the building where services are offered to tenants.
Tenants at the pilot site are young to middle-aged Spanish with a high representation of migrants. The number of persons living in the dwellings varies from 1 to 8 tenants. Literacy levels and share of social benefit receivers is sensibly high, also due to the actual economic situation in Spain. Plus, internet access is quite low as well. Tenants addressed during services operation period have said about the services that they think it could help them understand how they waste energy and money using supplies. The three blocks have a total surface of about 20.000 m² building area with 130 dwellings (12, 52, and 66 per building), commercial areas and parking. The total area of 130 dwellings participating in the project, varies between 32m2 to 75m2.
The service collects information on water, electricity, solar production and space heating. The portal provides tenants with access to historic consumption on different time scales. Personalised saving tips are generated automatically according to the consumption. Tips not only depend on consumption resulting in generic advice (e.g. lower temperature of thermostats) but take into account the environmental influences and suggest appropriate actions (e.g. consider closing thermostats while opening windows).
The EMS monitors the energy produced by solar system and aims to assure the achievement of the projected solar fraction, early fault detection and maintenance management. In many cases the solar thermal systems, which are obligatory for new residential buildings in Manresa, do not operate properly and this has not been detected for a long time. This has led in lot of cases to higher consumption and higher energy bills for tenants. This situation could be improved substantially with early detection and corrective maintenance.
The services will be automatic and do not require specific actions from tenants or the housing company. Automatic maintenance warnings are created from the monitoring system and sent to maintenance staff. Monitoring of the solar thermal contribution is installed in the central solar system. The solar contribution to water heating is calculated by the monitoring system back office. When there is thermal energy consumption for three consecutive days, but there is no solar energy contribution, the system sends automatically an alert to the maintenance staff.
BECA solution provides tenants with an informative on-line service offering complete overview and insight into their consumption on a timely basis. The service includes different components extracting information from the gathered data: Comparison with previous periods; and other tenants; self-assessment tool and a mailbox to receive personalised energy saving advices and alarms. A monthly energy report on paper is delivered to each tenant, summarising the most relevant energy information and energy saving tips which are based on automatic analysis of consumption behaviour. The tenant feeds the system with further information by “occupation profile” avoiding false alarms (and providing data for the EMS). The system is capable of facilitating the tenant’s understanding by sending automated alarms which propose at least one (concrete) action which can help avoiding the unnecessary energy consumption. BECA incorporates control over the local heat production (solar system) and water management. It allows optimising the solar system operation and helps to detect leaks or abnormal gas performance. Technical staff receives energy consumption overviews for the whole building and tenants almost in real time. Set alarms notify technical staff about any failure or abnormal consumption, enabling them to take action.
The path for socio-economic return is almost steadily increasing and starts positively. The baseline scenario (Do-Nothing) is on a high level as the existing solution is already reasonably smart and the difference of implementation cost, therefore, low. Nevertheless, the cost of equipment is the reason for the delayed pay-off for Tenants. Any reduction in hardware (and installation) cost would move the cost path downwards. The benefits of the Social Housing provider are designed to pay for the cost of operation. The benefit, in absolute terms, is small (a few thousand Euros) and could probably be increased with further optimisations. No development costs were recorded for the IT-company since the product was sold to the housing company and it is assumed that any costs are included in the fee charged.
All beneficiaries in the project are planning to exploit the solution. CIMNE has established a spinoff company called Inergy continuing to develop the BECA solution and actively engaging social housing companies across Spain to consider the IT-solution as part of refurbishment efforts as well as a stand-alone measure to increase energy efficiency. In the near future it might possible to exploit the market in other Spanish speaking countries. Forum considers the technology as a key feature in future housing developments. Further experience is required to also include refurbishment scenarios. PICH has already implemented BECA in other social housing developments being one of the main architects covering another 90 dwellings. These figures are expected to grow once the economical crisis ends and the building sector revived.
CIMNE the International Centre for Numerical Methods in Engineering is an autonomous research and development centre dedicated to promoting and fostering advances in the development and application of numerical methods and computational techniques for the solution of engineering problems in an international context. The Buildings Energy and Environment (BEE) Group is an independent research group of around 15 people within CIMNE, focusing their R&D activities on methodologies and tools for the reduction of CO2 emissions in the urban environment.
FORUM is a municipal company (FOMENT DE LA REHABILITACIÓ URBANA DE MANRESA, S.A. - Promotion of the Urban Refurbishment of Manresa) established in 1994 aiming at promotion, programming, planning of and urban land management and urban rehabilitation within the municipality of Manresa. FORUM is responsible for the pilot site in Manresa.
PICH AGUILERA ARCHITECTS is an architect company created in 1986. PICH works together with CIMNE in the pilot cluster in Manresa.