Buildings account for 40% of energy use in the EU. One of the ways this figure will be reduced is through the development of innovative construction methods and technologies.

This is the mission of the Energy Efficient Buildings (EeB) Public Private Partnership: a joint initiative of the European Commission and the construction industry. The partnership funds research to accelerate the reduction of energy use in new and retrofitted buildings and to improve European industrial competitiveness.

The partnership currently funds 168 research projects, pushing the state of the art in aspects such as: building design, materials, the construction process, energy monitoring and management and ICT. Here we give an introduction to some of the most promising projects.

Hemp houses

Natural insulation materials, including plants like hemp and straw, offer many advantages compared to conventional solutions: low or negative carbon emissions, improved indoor air quality, biodegradability, etc. However they possess some characteristics – eg susceptibility to moisture and fire damage – that have limited their widespread use. The ISOBIO project is looking to change all this. Partners have developed a novel treatment based on silica particle technology which confers bio-materials with extensive repellence to water and fire. By combining the bio-based insulation with protective plasters and renders they have created systems for retrofitting and new build which are designed for the mass market. Find out more at: www.isobioproject.com

5-day renovation

Though cost is often seen as the main barrier to building renovation, other factors such as the duration of works and disturbance to occupants also play their part. MORE-CONNECT tries to solve this by developing prefabricated, multifunctional elements for the building envelope which limit the actual on-site renovation time to a maximum of 5 days. During the works the occupants can stay in their homes with a minimum of disturbance. The project will further simplify the process by creating a one-stop-shop for renovation – meaning end-users only have to deal with one party. Find out more at: www.more-connect.eu

Smarter cities

At the heart of the SINFONIA project is a unique cooperation between the cities of Bolzano and Innsbruck, working hand in hand to achieve 40 to 50% primary energy savings and increase the share of renewables by 20% in two pioneer districts. This will be done through an integrated set of measures combining the retrofitting of more than 100,000m² of living surface, optimisation of the electricity grid, and solutions for district heating and cooling.

A large part of the project is dedicated to the transferability and scalability of the solutions deployed in the two pioneer districts. Five ‘early adopter’ cities are actively participating in the project, and Sinfonia partners have also created a Replication cluster where interested municipalities are invited to participate in knowledge sharing activities. Find out more at: www.sinfonia-smartcities.eu

Energy management

TOPAs is developing a set of tools to minimise the gap between the predicted and actual energy usage in buildings. The analytic tools allow a better understanding of the actual energy performance and facilitates continuous improvement based on real operational use. Decision support tools are being developed for building and facilities managers, owners and ESCOs to more effectively manage their site, providing guidance on how energy related decisions impact cost, occupant comfort and health. The benefits of the TOPAs tools are currently being demonstrated in real operating conditions in a number of buildings, where energy savings of 20% are being targeted. Find out more at: www.topas-eeb.eu

Community building

The STUNNING project is building a stakeholder community with the aim of accelerating the adoption of new business models for energy-efficient buildings based on integrated, adaptable and affordable refurbishment packages. The community is based around a ‘Renovation Hub’ knowledge sharing platform, which connects stakeholders and provides information such as case studies and building data. Join the community at: www.stunning-project.eu

Want to explore all the Energy Efficient Buildings projects? The 2018 project overview has just been released and is available to download here: http://www.ectp.org/news-events/news/news-detail/the-eeb-ppp-project-review-2018-is-now-available/