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Results of Collaborative R&D Competition: Future energy management for buildings

The Technology Strategy Board has announced ten winning projects, set to receive overall funding of £4 million to stimulate innovations in energy management of existing buildings.

 

Background to the competition

The UK is the sixth largest supplier of energy management systems, with £2.8bn of UK sales and £340m of exports. And, with the worldwide market predicted to grow at 10% a year over the next decade, and the smart-energy solutions market expected to grow at 30% annually in the EU, the emergence of new market drivers means UK businesses could capture even greater share.

The energy management market has historically been driven by the economic benefits of reducing energy use, and more recently, by requirements for building owners to report on the associated carbon emissions. There are new drivers forthcoming that, if exploited, could provide UK businesses with ‘early mover' advantage. These include:

  • The Smart Metering Implementation Programme, involving replacement or upgrading of more than 53 million electricity and gas meters in the UK between 2015 and 2020 in domestic and other buildings. Consumers will be offered additional energy management services via a 'consumer access device';
  • By 2018, minimum energy performance standards will encourage investment by landlords for improved energy ratings of leased buildings;
  • Financial incentives for electricity demand response through the Electricity Market Reform;
  • The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme will, by 2015, require larger firms to report energy audits at least every four years;
  • Building owners and tenants are starting to specify smart solutions for energy management, tied in with data from building information modelling, Soft Landings and lifecycle facilities information management;
  • Remote monitoring, diagnostics and control of appliances and systems is increasingly possible using internet-enabled devices and low-cost sensors;
  • Commercial buildings of high-quality, low-energy/low carbon with low operational costs, are commercially more attractive to tenants and more easily let.

 

Competition Scope

The Future energy management for buildings collaborative R&D competition was to accelerate new commercially viable ways to reduce overall energy consumption in existing buildings through improved energy management. Innovations were allowed to take many forms, including products (hardware or software), process or service solutions. 

Subject to grant offer and conditions being met, a whisker under £4m has been allocated to support collaborative R&D projects addressing the technical and commercial challenges. The Technology Strategy Board has allocated £3m and the Research Councils' UK Energy Programme (RCUKEP) has allocated £1m.

 

The Winners (ordered by size of funding award)

Energy Management & Analysis Exploiting Existing BMS Infrastructure & Data

The Energy Management & Analysis Exploiting Existing BMS Infrastructure & Data project proposed to substantially expand the capabilities and applications of a building performance analysis platform that is already saving customers in excess of £200k a year per site.

The project is led by Demand Logic Ltd, and offers an energy efficiency web platform that analyses data from the 'building management system' (BMS), displayed - with energy-saving tools - on a web browser.

The current platform extracts data from existing BMS systems and undertakes analysis beyond the capabilities of the BMS (designed for control, not analysis).

The collaboration also involves Milton Keynes based Environmental Design Solutions Ltd (a supplier of commercial building simulation software), London South Bank University and Verco Advisory Services Ltd (a sustainability and climate change consultancy).

The team will draw on data-mining techniques to increase the speed and scope of the analysis. It will interface with modelling software to compare the design with performance, and interface with carbon management software to enable dynamic demand control, and develop interfaces for a variety of audiences – including education.

The total proposed project costs are £909,099, with the proposed project grant being £632,667.

Demand Logic currently offers a web-based system designed to reveal energy-saving opportunities in commercial buildings as well for monitoring building performance and comfort levels.

The system provides a real-time dashboard and shows regular performance reports. Users can log in to access live as well as historic data.

Demand Logic was started in 2007 by Mike Darby, a Building Management System (BMS) engineer in response to his experience of significant wasted energy in commercial buildings, that the Carbon Trust estimates as costing £500 million per year.

Mike teamed up with Joe Short, a scientist now Demand Logic’s CEO, and Dan Mauger, formally from Friends of the Earth, as the company’s Chief Information Officer.

Demand Logic's web-based system monitors the performance of buildings against the environmental conditions which the BMS is designed to achieve. The system offers a real-time dashboard which pinpoints anomalies, and provides regular performance reports.

Demand Logic provides a single point of contact where those engaged in improving the building’s performance can share data and schedule improvements.

As a result, the company claims that customers can expect to see payback within 12 months.

Demand Logic states that in a typical commercial building 60 to 80% of energy is consumed by services such as heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC). The Demand Logic system can monitor anything from 5,000 to 20,000 data points, including sensors for temperatures, humidity, pressure, air quality. The required outputs are then sent to the plant from the BMS. Each data point either affects, or reflects the performance of the building services and can be queried every few seconds. Combined with the analytics layer this can provide estimates of energy and costs associated with any component in the building without costly sub-metering.

Demand Logic doesn’t currently use any external datasets, but it is looking to incorporate open meteorological data, both past and forecast. This improved data could be useful for building designers when selecting equipment to be installed in new buildings, or retrofitted into old ones.

According to Dan Mauger, “The system is installed in four blue-chip companies, a national newspaper and a university. In one case an issue identified by our system within 24 hours of installation led to energy savings in the order of £50,000 per annum”.

An application of the existing technology at King’s College London - has earned the company a shortlisting in the 2014 Ashden Awards.

Started in January 2013, covering three campuses and 100 buildings ranging considerably in size and usage pattern. It tracked 554 major plant items (including boilers, chillers, pumps, air-handling units) with in excess of 100,000 data points (sensors and terminal units) savings worth approximately £390,000 per year from the College's annual energy spend of approximately £5m has been identified.

Ian Armitage, Campus Operations Manager, King's College London said, “The Demand Logic web system allows us to see at a glance where problems are likely to be. Without this, it's like trying to find a needle in a haystack”.* The project found that in the main, the College's facilities were running very efficiently thanks to efforts and successive energy efficiency drives. There were, however, many issues that can arise which cannot be easily identified by traditional energy management systems.

As of September 2013, 47 specific energy-saving opportunities were identified, with 38 of these acted upon. Overall it is estimated the project identified savings worth approximately £390,000 per year - an indicative annual carbon saving is estimated at 2500 tonnes.

In one case, boilers were rapidly cycling on and off because they did not have enough load. In another, several conflicting “set points“ (desired temperature settings) had been applied to the same open plan office, causing both heating and cooling of the same space.

In a particularly notable case, having uncovered a large chiller running all day in the middle of winter, the system found a single office that was causing the problem. This single room was being heated by a personal electric heater which was fighting the centralised cooling plant. (The main plant was trying to cool the pace, and the electric heater was trying to heat it). This discovery was possible because the Demand Logic system monitors each of many hundreds of ceiling-mounted air-conditioning outlets in the building, and was able to identify the one that was demanding the most from the central plant.

Mike Darby said,“To be honest, I think this is just the beginning at King's. The system found the low-hanging fruit quite early on, and then we focussed on developing even better methods for analysing data. Now these are going live, I am convinced we'll find many more savings.” 


 

Smart in-building micro-grid for energy management

The Smart in-building micro-grid for energy management project will be led by St Neots, Cambridgeshire, based lighting and building services company iSotera Ltd.

Isotera has developed a power and control system for LED lighting using its own power network technology.

For the project Isotera partnered with Manchester Metropolitan University, and Xsilon Ltd - a Bath based developer of ultra reliable In-Home Machine to Machine (M2M) connectivity.

According to the partners, most building energy management applications require some form of networking. Currently, deployment of these applications is hampered by the lack of appropriate communications infrastructure in most existing buildings. The aim is therefore to provide existing buildings with a communications infrastructure that enables cost-effective installation of control and other systems that conserve energy and improve occupant well-being.

It's claimed that the power and communications network that will result will allow building owners and occupants to add functionality at a much lower cost than existing solutions. The data rate of the network will be able to deal with narrow-band applications up to CCTV surveillance requirements.

As all electronic modules that run off this system benefit from a protected network environment, equipment life will be expected to be extended as well.

The proposed project cost of the project is £733,672, with a proposed project grant of £513,814.

Isotera Limited was formed as a result of a spin out from Juice Technology, another LED lighting solutions company.

Isotera’s intelligent LED lighting system was designed to squeeze the best possible energy efficiency from LED lights, and to make installation more affordable.

It is based on a novel power distribution architecture and features contactless power transfer, claimed to reduce capital costs by 30-50% and electronic waste by as much as 60%.

Isotera announced in March 2012 that it received £1.1m investment to support the company in finalising its initial product offering and product launch launch of its intelligent LED lighting system, from the Low Carbon Innovation Fund - a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) supported venture capital fund wholly owned subsidiary of the University of East Anglia.


 

Energy Management System incorporating Integrated Retrofit Decision Model (EMSIRDecMo) 

Energy Management System incorporating Integrated Retrofit Decision Model (EMSIRDecMo) will idevelop a decision tool, integrated within an Energy Management System, for predicting outcomes of energy-related building retrofit actions.

It will develop domestic demand-side management functionalities for enhanced system stability, improve electricity market efficiency, increased wind energy utilisation and reduced carbon emissions.

The lead partner is Empower Energy Systems Ltd - a Holywood, Northern Ireland, based specialist in energy management, operating in both the commercial and domestic markets.

There are two housing parters. Hearth Housing Association, set up by the National Trust and the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society to restore historic buildings in Northern Ireland. Hearth Revolving Fund generally restores historic buildings for re-sale, but also manages some properties, not restricted to housing uses.

Oaklee Homes Group, is a voluntary non-profit organisation, providing and managing social housing, care and support services.

The academic partner is Queens University Belfast.

Total proposed project costs of the project is £716,089, and the proposed project grant is £493,458.


 

ASSEMBLE | Adaptive SystemS for Energy Management in Buildings with Low cost and Enhanced usability

Led by TerOpta Ltd (a Nottingham based specialist in optical telecommunications and in-building control and communication networks), the ASSEMBLE project aims to develop an innovative, easy to install, flexible, and low cost building monitoring and management infrastructure and interface.

This system will use the same power line carrier technology currently used by TerOpta in its lighting control system, so avoiding the need for additional wiring and the constraints of wireless technologies.

The company's TeroLight intelligent lighting control system uses ‘Power Line Communications’ (PLC), sending control signals over the existing mains wiring. This eliminates expensive control cabling and promises virtually no disturbance to the building fabric during installation.

The product resulting from the ASSEMBLE project is intended to be suited to smaller and simpler commercial buildings which would not traditionally have BMS installed.

The product will comprise a basic energy metering and monitoring layer that can be expanded by adding supplementary modules, offering the ability to incorporate control and management functions of varying levels of sophistication depending on the building.

Particular emphasis is to be placed on simplification; such as the creation of a BMS system that is low cost, robust, and simple to install and set up.

Last year, TerOpta was awarded funding by the Technology Strategy Board for a feasibility study, as part of the “Buildings Better Connected“ programme, to investigate technologies for integrating multiple, low-carbon systems within buildings, such as electric vehicle charging, intelligent climate controls, heat and power sharing and storage.

TerOpta's in-building control and communication system, utilised within its intelligent lighting platform, was proposed as a potential solution. The three month feasibility study, started in early-August, studied how best to tailor this communication system to that end.

There are four other collaborative partners in the ASSEMBLE project. Construction and civil engineering company Costain Group plc; Monodraught Ltd‎ (a High Wycombe-based developer of natural lighting, ventilation and cooling products); the University of Nottingham and The National Energy Foundation (an independent charity, established to encourage the more sustainable use and generation of energy).

The proposed project costs for ASSEMBLE is £666,371, of which £458,123 will be funded under the competition.


 

EMPower

EMPower aims to help communities have a greater say in how their electricity is generated and managed, and to reward energy customers financially through savings on their electricity bills.

A feasibility study in the Technology Strategy Board’s Buildings Better Connected programme demonstrated through simulation that communities with electricity micro-generation and storage capability could have a lower carbon footprint and see a better financial return through co-operative energy management than they would have without storage capability, based on the same total consumption.

EMPower will design and implement a prototype to validate and market-test the concept - to optimise energy generation and usage at the community level rather than building level.

The project team is led by E2E Services (a consultancy for Satellite Communications Networks) - that will develop the technical solution; Encraft (an independent consulting engineering firm) that will apply its commercial design and energy market expertise; The University of Nottingham for its energy assessment tools and techniques; and Bath & West Community Energy as launch customer.

The total proposed project costs of EMPower are £557,822, with a proposed project grant of £393,868.


 

ADDRESSING THE SME ENERGY CHALLENGE

NetThings (prior to January this year trading trading as Ewgeco), Edinburgh Napier University and Scottish Power are to work together to better understand how energy is consumed by SMEs.

The project will analyse real-time data and user behaviour to develop test devices and software that will help verify the viability of new energy management products that could be commercialised.

The 24 month project is hoped to result in integrated SME energy management solutions that could deliver up to 20% energy savings, at a suitable cost for SME energy consumption profiles.

NetThings makes display systems for monitoring energy use in homes and businesses. Its products all feature a traffic-light display which brings consumption data, it is claimed, “out of the utility cupboard and into the sight of users, giving them control“.

It also offers real-time data visualisation using the traffic light display, and a detailed graphical analysis through the MyEwgeco data portal. Ewgeco said its monitors are currently being rolled out in businesses, educational facilities and housing developments and associations, across the UK and overseas.

Proposed project costs are £549,644, and the project is to be funded with a project grant of £393,341.

Ewgeco was founded by Tanya Ewing who, on first approaching Edinburgh Napier University, described herself as “an ordinary housewife with an idea for an energy saving device“.

Tanya wanted to develop an energy meter with an easy-to-understand visual indicator of energy consumption for use in the home, but required specialist knowledge and support.

Working with the University's Institute for Product Design & Manufacture, Tanya was able to develop the first demonstrator prototype of the Ewgeco meter's visual display unit and complete her the specification, forming the basis of her product design and patent application. The University provided technical support and advice to enable Tanya to identify the right product development and manufacturing partner to meet her exact requirements.

It also offered a Feasibility Award of £3K to investigate the development of remote sensing of gas and liquids that would enable the Ewgeco device to be retrofitted to homes and business throughout the UK.

In three years, the company has grown to five staff, is valued at several million pounds and is now in volume production.

Tanya Ewing's achievements have resulted in awards including The British Female Inventor of the Year Award 2008 - sponsored by the British Female Inventors & Innovators Network; Observer Ethical Awards/Jupiter Big Idea Award 2008; Winner of the Best New Business 2008 - sponsored by Barclays' and National Bright Idea Award Winner - E.on Energy Lab 2008.

In 2010 Ewgeco (along with Edinburgh Napier University and System Level Integration Limited were awarded Technology Strategy Board funding of £117,163 to test Ewgeco dual-fuel smart monitoring energy display devices installed in 52 properties in three housing association sites in Scotland.

In this trial, properties with a Ewgeco energy monitor gas consumption was reduced ranged between 7% and 23%, and consumed 7% less electricity compared to the other properties.

Furthermore, during the study found the occupants became more confident in regulating their own electrical energy use.

NetThings is currently still selling products under the Ewgeco brand but said it will be phasing it out over the next year. 


 

Retail Energy Management System (REMS)

Retail Energy Management System (REMS) aims to build a software tool that uses novel pattern matching tools on sub-metered energy data (collected at 30 minute intervals from a portfolio of supermarket stores).

The project will link this energy data to other external data (such as weather data and building data) so that normalisation models can be used to compare performance between stores.

Led by Cybula Limited, the consortium will build AURAmonitor, a pattern matching tool to detect and alert anomalies over time and use shape-based pattern tools to detect events such as asset failure and human behaviours.

Data will be used from Asda’s current energy monitoring system and from their building management software.

Cybula, specialises in analysis of time series data using the expertise of the Leeds Sustainability Institute in building energy management, will be develop the software.

The Centre for Low Carbon Futures will use its links with UKTI and overseas embassies to construct a plan for exploitation of REMS.

Cybula offers high performance pattern matching and data search systems, claimed as the world's most advanced commercial solutions for searching data.

It was founded in 2000 by Professor Jim Austin to develop commercial applications for research in high performance pattern matching undertaken at the University of York. Cybula Ltd works in partnership with the Advanced Computer Architecture Group in the Department of Computer Science at the University.

The company draws on over 35 developers, and researchers for its projects within the development group and the research group at the University.

The project collaborators are the Centre for Low Carbon Futures (a university membership organisation that focuses on sustainability for competitive advantage), Leeds Metropolitan University, and Asda Stores.

Adsa stated in its Sustainability plans (2012-2015), despite growing as a business, that it will maintain flat energy usage by 2020 (from 2012 levels) and is aiming for 30% of its energy to come from renewable sources by 2015.

It is aiming to remove 20 million metric tonnes of C02 out of its global supply chain by 2015, and for a 60% reduction in emissions from its transport fleet.

The proposed project costs are £510,850, with proposed project grant of £315,534.


 

Carbon Reduction Options for Housing Managers - real-time (CROHM RT)

The CROHM RT project will develop a tool that combines analysis of hourly energy usage data with detailed asset information and resident behaviour patterns.

Integration with visual analytics tools will allow asset managers with large stock portfolios to identify and respond to anomalous energy use, as well as receiving technical support.

The tool will help landlords provide a better service to their residents, through more accurate and responsive property management and more effective quality assurance.

An online platform will also enable residents to have more detailed monitoring and comparative energy performance data.

This project has seven collaborative research partners:

As stated in Sustainable Homes's blog post Carbon and fuel poverty asset management tool secures £300k - Technology Strategy Board funding funding of the CROHM RT project will significantly help landlords understand the homes they manage and resident energy bills.

The support will mean real-time energy performance data will be integrated into software. This will enable accurate real-time checks on the performance of measures such as insulation, boilers or renewables. 

The new tool, to be called 'CROHM live', will identify residents that could benefit from advice on saving energy. Tailored energy saving advice could then be provided for the people in that home.

Andrew Eagles, Managing Director of Sustainable Homes said, “this is a really exciting development. Integrating real-time energy performance will provide landlords with a very powerful tool to enable even more in depth monitoring and improvement of homes, especially at a time when energy bills are rising and we need to reduce carbon emissions.

The proposed project costs for CROHM RT is £499,720, and the proposed project grant is £313,086.


 

Thermionix - A Predictive/Adaptive Energy Consumption Control System (PEACCS)

Thermionix is being developed as a Predictive and Adaptive Energy Consumption Control System (PEACCS) that will enable more efficient use of energy in domestic, commercial and industrial settings by predicting energy demand and balancing the timing and amount of energy used to minimise cost.

The system makes sure that only the energy actually required is used, reducing carbon emissions by cutting waste and saving cost.

Thermionix is claimed to be smart-grid compatible and can balance energy demand across the day, reducing peak demands and taking advantage of lower cost 'smart tariff' energy.

The lead partners in the Thermionix project is BMSHOME Limited, a Durham based manufacture of consumer electronics.

Also participating are housing group Gentoo Group Limited and Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, based electronic hardware and firmware design and manufacturing company GSPK Design Limited

The Thermionix Smart Energy control system is designed to retro-fix electric storage heaters in order to save energy. It will improve the convenience, efficiency and economics of electric storage heaters by the use of modern smart energy technology.

Thermionix works out how much heating energy is required will need to stay comfortable based on the weather forecast and calculates how much heat to store in each electric storage heater.

It reviews its performance and 'learns' how to keep properties warm for the lowest cost.

It also continually updates and improves its performance to react to weather conditions.

As reported in October 2012 by Newcastle Science City (a business support partnership led by Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council), entrepreneur Tony Gair brought his idea for Thermionix to Newcastle Science City in May 2010. He then worked with the business support team to bring the product to market.

The company secured a trial of their prototype with North East housing organisation Gentoo investigating the ease of use for storage heaters, comfort level improvements and impacts on energy bills.

A larger trial was planned within Gentoo properties, with data gathered to finalise the product and ultimately launch it to landlords and individual homeowners.

The proposed project costs of the predictive/adaptive energy consumption control system project are £399,450, and proposed project grant is £234,677.


 

MyCloudControl - Known Energy Bills

The MyCloudControl - Known Energy Bills consortium will address heating control management in the domestic sector. MyCloudControl is a robust, self-learning cloud-based heating control platform that monitors the micro and macro environment of homes using sensor systems and a novel algorithm.

The scheme intends to enable improved heating efficiency and manage budgeting to meet the householder’s need without compromising thermal comfort.

MyCloudControl also offers non-intrusive monitoring of the vulnerable based on system engagement, and tracks boiler carbon monoxide emissions to predict servicing needs.

A Technology Strategy Board SMART “Proof of Market” study highlighted the need for the device by end users and domestic boiler suppliers.

The lead partner Sustainable Venture Development Partners Ltd, together with its collaborators, the National Energy Foundation and the Orbit Group, will develop a beta prototype of a self-learning algorithm, to de-risk the business and deliver the project objectives within the £329,180 budget in 15 months. Sustainable Venture Development Partners Ltd, based in London, works with investors, entrepreneurial managers, and corporates to originate, build and grow sustainable companies, while the National Energy Foundation is an independent charity, established to encourage the more sustainable use and generation of energy.

Orbit Group Ltd provides housing services, predominantly across the Midlands, East Anglia and the South East.

The Proposed project costs are £329,250, and proposed project grant is £225,084

National Energy Foundation previously worked with Orbit Housing Group to provide a robust stock energy data analysis, to help determine the most effective way for Orbit Housing Group to achieve 80% carbon savings by 2050 (relative to a baseline in 1990).

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