Novel way to improve energy performance of buildings has recently described an EU-funded project which has developed a new technology to improve energy performance.  It is funded through Framework Programme 7 and a more complete description of the entire project follows the article.


Self-learning buildings will increase their energy efficiency

The University of Salford is part of a Europe-wide project to develop technologies which will allow buildings to optimise how they consume energy and resources, using wireless sensor technology and data mining methods that learn to optimise energy consumption, but maintain user comfort.

The technology being developed by the European consortium will apply equally to new and existing buildings and will help to reduce the estimated 35% of the continent’s carbon emissions that come from the built environment.

At Salford, computer scientists will have responsibility for applying self-learning software to the system which will allow the buildings to become more efficient over time as data is gathered by sensors. The University will also lead on work to encourage uptake of the new technology using knowledge developed at its Energy Hub to change people’s poor environmental behaviours.

Called SEEDS, the project’s first demonstration sites are part of the University of Stavanger campus in Norway and an office block in Madrid. They were chosen because of their high levels of energy use and contrasting local lifestyles and weather conditions.

In practice this will involve collecting various data, such as temperature, humidity, luminance, and occupancy via wireless sensors. The software then learns to optimise heating and ventilation so that user comfort is satisfied but energy consumption is minimised.

Energy savings should follow since the heating or air conditioning will be controlled more closely to actual requirements such as avoiding being on when there are no people in rooms.

Professor Sunil Vadera from the School of Computing, Science & Engineering is leading Salford’s £299,000 section which forms part of an overall £2.2m three-year project. He said: “This is a project of major importance as it brings together scientists from different specialisms and locations. “Using software in this way has the potential to make our buildings much more energy efficient without having to rely on every single person using them in the correct manner.”
About SEEDS 

SEEDS project focuses on harnessing advances in self-learning methods, wireless sensor technology and building technology to develop a novel system for Self Learning Energy Efficient builDings and open Spaces (SEEDS). It will aim to develop an energy management system that will allow buildings to continuously learn to maintain user comfort whilst minimising energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

SEEDS will develop an open architecture suitable both for retrofitting existing buildings and open spaces and for new building design.

SEEDS will be based on research and scientific advances in wireless sensor technology, machine learning, and Bayesian networks, as well as standard statistical methods to enable the relationships between key variables to be continuously learned, facilitate prediction and enable control.

SEEDS’ results will be validated in two pilots at opposite sites of Europe: i) part of a university campus (Stavanger, Norway) including several buildings and open spaces and ii) an office building plus parking area (Madrid, Spain).

The Consortium includes organisations from the building, electronic and ICT and energy sector. The dissemination and active contribution to forums such as ICT4EB will assure the impact of the project.

The economical and environmental benefits of the project are:

  • Reduction of energy consumption and costs and CO2 emissions;
  • Reduction of first adjustment and maintenance costs;
  • Maintenance of natural resources and reduction of generated waste.

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