Announcing the HEART Project

A toolkit for measuring, tracking, and ultimately increasing energy efficiency in buildings is in the making – discover the new HEART project!

The building sector in Europe is responsible for 41% of final energy consumption, of which 27% is attributable to the residential sector. Climate change is expected to reduce heating demand gradually in northern and north-western Europe while increasing cooling demand in southern Europe, sharpening peak electricity demand during summer. While considerable progress was made in recent years, energy retrofitting of the European building sector must evolve further.

The energy performance of residential buildings in the EU has been a topic of discussion, and on 19 December 2017, the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commissionreached an agreement on new rules to improve the energy performance of buildings. The EU Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič stated that:

The fight against climate change starts ‘at home’, given that over a third of EU’s emissions is produced by buildings. By renovating and making them smart, we are catching several birds with one stone – the energy bills, people’s health, and the environment.

The new 4-year Horizon 2020 Innovation Action (IA) project – Holistic Energy and Architectural Retrofit Toolkit (HEART) – focuses on improving energy efficiency in the building sector: HEART aims to develop, test and validate a holistic and multi-technological, integrated and interconnected system for the deep rehabilitation of residential buildings.

HEART is a multifunctional retrofit toolkit including different components (ICT, BEMS, HVAC, BIPV and Envelope Technologies) that cooperate to transform an existing building into a smart building. While the toolkit focuses on providing high levels of energy efficiency in existing residential buildings, the concept can be extended to new residential and commercial buildings. The core of HEART is a cloud-based computing platform that can be used as a support tool both in the decision-making phase (design of the retrofit intervention) and in the operating phase (energy management of the building and of its technical systems).

HEART contributes to the improvement of the European building renovation process by measuring retrofit planning and implementation optimization, reducing total energy consumption, reinforcing the integration of renewable energies, rationalizing energy flows inside and between buildings and smart grids, involving stakeholders, and supporting energy financing.

The Coordinator of the HEART project, Professor Niccolò Aste from the Department of Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering at the Politecnico di Milanosays:

The global climate change challenge may be won only by radically rethinking our energy system. One of the most critical aspects of this endeavor is represented by our buildings’ consumptions – heating, cooling and electricity – making up for about 40% of Europe’s total energy budget. The EU’s energy policies aim at realizing nearly zero energy buildings (nZEBs), however, the greatest weight of the energy share is due to existing buildings whose low efficiencies risk becoming unsustainable. It is thus utterly important to devise building stock retrofit strategies able to produce concrete solutions effective at a large scale.

The project HEART aims at realizing the transformation of existing buildings into nZEBs through multi-technological synergistic systems in which building envelop and technical plants closely interact to guarantee at the same time the highest levels of efficiency and economical convenience and comfort for tenants. The second challenge I will face in the next years is to coordinate with the same effectiveness the multi-disciplinary team that supports the project and to adequately value the contribution of all the project’s partners.

Uros Stritith, Associate Professor at the University of Ljubljana says:

HEART project focuses on improving energy efficiency in the building sector and aims to develop, test and validate a holistic and multi-technological integrated and interconnected system for the deep rehabilitation of residential buildings. As a person in charge and a head of the Laboratory for Heating Sanitary and Solar Technology and Air-conditioning I will co-ordinate work between coordinator Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI) and a partner University of Ljubljana – Faculty of Mechanical Engineering (UL-FME) in the context of HEART project data management as well as experimental and numerical work at specific work packages in on-going project.