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26 June 2018

Barcelona Blog #9: Drawing the lessons of the low-energy districts solutions

Read about Barcelona's first lessons learned from the implementation phase of low energy district solutions: learn the importance of business models, regulatory framework and finding value proposition for energy consumption visualization platforms. Get more details on the refurbishment of the Escola Sert center, a part of The College of Architects of Catalonia (COAC). 

Action area 1: Low-Energy Districts - Lessons learnt

The main objective of the GrowSmarter work package called "Low energy districts" is the deployment of energy efficiency measures to reduce the environmental impact of the existing building stock in cities.

To date, we have already reached the stage within the GrowSmarter project where practically all measures are completely executed and the corresponding monitoring phase has started. This has allowed the collection of the first conclusions and lessons learned from the last 2 years of implementation work required to make the proposed measures reality.

In total, 123 000m2 of constructed surface area have been refurbished in the three Lighthouse cities (including private and public buildings, tertiary and residential buildings), and local energy generation has been promoted by connecting buildings to District Heating and Cooling networks, on-site renewable electricity production, and advanced smart energy management of the local energy generation. The project has also promoted the deployment of Home Energy Management Systems to raise awareness on energy efficiency among the citizens. In this context, each Lighthouse city has implemented Smart solutions of different nature but with the same goal: the demonstration of measures leading to a more energy efficient city building stock.

In Barcelona, the partners involved in the Low energy districts work package have highlighted the importance of the following topics:

  • Explore feasible business models behind the private building energy retrofitting in relatively low heating demand areas (Mediterranean zone): The industrial partner responsible for the demonstration of private building energy retrofitting in Barcelona highlights the general need for Public-Private partnerships and, in case of commercial buildings, the need for agreements between building owners and operators. In Barcelona, the feasibility of actions related to the energy retrofitting of private buildings by an industrial partner has been possible through the figure of an ESCo (Energy Service Company) that has promoted Public-Private partnerships in order to find a favourable funding for the building owners.  
  • Define the value proposition of energy consumption visualization platforms prior to installation: The two energy consumption visualization platforms deployed in Barcelona have shown different value propositions. The Municipality deployed the free Virtual Energy Advisor, which aims at empowering citizens to decrease the electricity consumption in the residential sector. The local utility GNF deployed a commercial HEMS (Home Energy Management System), which will increase consumers’ energy efficiency awareness while providing valuable information on energy consumption consumers’ habits.
  • Consider the strong dependence on National regulation for the implementation of Self-consumption systems (Photovoltaics + Battery systems) with Smart energy management systems: Considering the existing regulation in Spain at the time of the GrowSmarter project’s implementation phase, a distributed photovoltaic (PV) energy generation installation can only feed a single consumer. Hence, in order to implement this measure, the PV systems had to be installed at the common rooftop of the residential building and can only satisfy the common end-uses of the building (i.e. elevators and lighting). Moreover, the current legislation does not allow any retribution from the injection in the grid of surplus renewable electricity generation. This limits the possibilities that the smart energy management can offer.

 

Refurbishment of Escola Sert (COAC)

Sert School is a continuous formation centre through which The College of Architects of Catalonia (COAC) offers a systematic program of training and accompaniment to the professional group. The College of Architects of Catalonia is an institution, established in 1931. Its building was built between 1959 and 1962 and it is located in Plaça Nova, Barcelona.

The project will affect the College building’s façade where the Sert School will be located after the refurbishment. This is a protected building catalogued as historical heritage. Therefore the intervention has been designed and executed respecting the composition and aesthetic of the original building while improving its energy performance and comfort.

On February 2017, the final agreement between Gas Natural Servicios and COAC was signed in order to take part in the GrowSmarter project. At that moment, COAC was already carrying out a global reform, not limited to an energy refurbishment. The municipal permissions were obtained during 2015. The scope of Growsmarter within the global project consists in implementing façade-integrated PV plant and a Building Energy Management System (BEMS).

The implementation started in June 2017 with the PV glass and the electrical installation engineering. The works related to the façade started in October 2017 and they finished in January 2018. The Building Energy Management System (BEMS) was installed once all the refurbishment works finished. The collaboration is taking place under an Energy Services contract, through which the Energy Services Company (Gas Natural Servicios, GNF’s ESCo) provides a turnkey solution and performs the investment in exchange for an annual fee. GNF is responsible for the PV glass supply and its integration in the building electrical installation and also the design and implementation of the BEMS.

The school and the whole building are undergoing a global refurbishment complemented by the GrowSmarter project:

  • Façade refurbishment, incorporating mostly glass surface: Improvement of the sound insulation and reduction of the thermal losses
  • Implementation of a 19.5 kWp façade-integrated PV plant for self-consumption.

Specific photovoltaic glasses have been selected taking into account both technical and aesthetic properties.

COAC Façade under construction and photovoltaic glasses (PV). Source: Diputació de Barcelona

Added Value

Data gathered by the BEMS will be used for better energy management by the building operator resulting in further reductions in energy consumption that achieved using that data. In addition, one of the main aspects to highlight in this refurbishment is the definition of an optimal PV installation design integrated in a building façade, minimizing the visual impact and maximizing the power production that can be obtained through self-consumption.

 

Gonzalo Cabeza

Site Manager, Barcelona

For the previous blog post, click here

26 February 2018

Barcelona Blog #8: Breathing new life into old buildings

Read about how Barcelona has completed refurbishment works in several building complexes, including social housing buildings, student residences, a new library and more! Energy saving solutions have been implemented together with smart monitoring systems to track the new energy performance of the buildings. The solutions being implemented could be replicated across the city and have a considerable impact on the energy performance of Barcelona's buildings. Action area 1: Low-Energy Districts To see all the measures to be implemented, click here. Inaugural ceremony of newly retrofitted public library The refurbishment works on the public library owned by Barcelona Municipality, which are part of the GrowSmarter project, have been completed. The inaugural ceremony of the Library Montserrat Abelló in the district Les Corts was held on 26th January with the attendance of the Mayor and other representatives of the City Council. Located in an old silk factory, the new public library is an example of the refurbishment of an industrial building owned by the Municipality of Barcelona. In this case, three adjacent buildings (an old industrial building most recently used as a warehouse and two office buildings) have been retrofitted to become the new public library of the district, a public facility of more than 3,000 m2. The new library is the first public building in the city of Barcelona with the BREEAM® (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) certificate, a world-leading sustainability assessment method for buildings. In order to achieve this, the Municipality included energy efficiency criteria in the structural refurbishment of the building to reduce its environmental impact. The scope of the energy retrofitting works includes the improvement of the façade, roof, ground floor and glazing insulation to reduce the demand for heating and air conditioning of the building, the installation of radiant floor system for heating and cooling that contributes to the energy savings of the building, and the installation of software for the energy management of the building (BEMS). In addition, the library will cover part of its own electrical demand with a solar photovoltaic installation on the rooftop. To watch a summary video of the inaugural ceremony please click here.
The official speech held by the Administration during the inauguration ceremony. Source: Sergi Ramos/Diputació de Barcelona
General view of the ground floor of the library. Source: IREC
Works on social housing building finished by Barcelona Municipality The refurbishment works in the residential building of Passeig Santa Coloma 55-71, promoted by the public body responsible for social housing in Barcelona Institut Municipal de l’Habitatge i la Rehabilitació - IMHAB , were finished in December 2017. This building is composed of 207 dwellings with a total surface of 14,165m2, which will benefit from the passive refurbishment of the entire building façade. The insulation of the building façade is expected to lead to a reduction of the heating demand of the dwellings. The benefits for the tenants will not only be lower heating and energy bills, but also improved comfort and other qualitative aspects, such as noise and humidity insulation. In order to assess the impact on user comfort, a survey and monitoring campaign was done in February 2017 as a baseline, and a second survey and monitoring campaign will now follow in February 2018, since the insulation works are now finished.
The new appearance of the north façade of the building. Source: IMHAB
One of the 8 renovated building entrances. Source: IMHAB
District heating connection between Melon District and DistrictClima Melon District Melon District Marina is the biggest student residence in Barcelona with more than 500 rooms. Melon District has a privileged location in the city thanks to its situation near the one of the most innovative neighbourhood in Barcelona, named 22@, as well as being just ten minutes walking from the centre of Barcelona.
Before the refurbishment, HVAC installations consisted of electric heaters that satisfied the heat demand and a connection to the nearest district heating and cooling (DH&C), named DistrictClima, for cooling in the summer and for domestic hot water. Collaboration Agreement At the outset of GrowSmarter, two buildings (not in Melon District) were under consideration for connection to the district heating network. However, after energy pre-analyses and a first contact with the communities were done, these buildings were deemed unsuitable for the project. Finally, after a long period of searching, Melon District was identified and its participation in the project was accepted by the property management in July 2016. The agreement was a private-private collaboration between Melon District property and Gas Natural Fenosa (GNF). Before the agreement between the student residence and GNF, Melon District had already planned a refurbishment of its building, though the heating system was not part of its initial refurbishment plans. But thanks to the European subsidy (via GrowSmarter) and the participation of Gas Natural Fenosa as an Energy Services Company (ESCO), the expansion of the initial scope of the refurbishment project was made possible. GrowSmarter measures in Melon District The refurbishment works carried out in the framework of GrowSmarter include connecting the heating installation to the nearest DH&C (DistrictClima) and installing a building energy management system (BEMs). Work on the building started in August 2016 and finished in March 2017. Specifically, the refurbishments in Melon District were based on:
  • Connection to the DH&C: Before the refurbishment, the heating system in Melon District was based on electric heaters to supply the heat demand. After the refurbishment, all the electric heaters were disconnected and heat is instead provided DistrictClima. This connection to the district heating network, shown in the following pictures, allows to Melon District to considerably reduce its primary energy consumption thanks to replacing the use of electricity with the DH&C.
  • Building Energy Management System (BEMS): A new Building Energy Management System (BEMS) was installed in Melon District, which will provide relevant information about the energy consumption of the building. The BEMS allows the property managers to understand the energy impact of the students' habits and reduce consumption through the application of new control strategies. Furthermore, the BEMS will help Gas Natural Fenosa to develop new strategies to better respond to disturbances or stresses in the system. A Home Energy Management System (HEMS) was also installed on one floor (B4) of the Melon building, which monitors the energy use of the four bedrooms and one kitchen on the floor. Thanks to the data gathered here, Gas Natural Fenosa will be able to disaggregate total consumption measured by the BEMs by each room and kitchen in Melon District.
Together, these measures are expected to reduce the primary energy consumption of the building by 38%. Added value All the measures and works carried out in Melon District were part of an Energy Services contract, through which the Energy Services Company (ESCO) guarantees energy savings to Melon District as well as the correct operation of all installations for the stipulated period, in exchange of an annual fee. Moreover, thanks to the Gas Natural Fenosa’s background and its large range of different clients, the project carried out in Melon District will be easily replicable beyond what has been demonstrated in GrowSmarter, multiplying the beneficial impacts of the project. Last but not least, all data obtained by BEMS and HEMS will be fundamental to assessing the energy savings guarantees, thus improving the know-how of Gas Natural Fenosa and allowing Melon District to be more self-sufficient in its energy consumption. Action area 2: Integrated Infrastructures Action area 2: Integrated Infrastructures To see all the measures to be implemented, click here. Smart solution 8: Big data management In Measure 8.2, we have added data access and query functionality beyond what GrowSmarter proposes. Concretely, we can now query and cross data from more than one source, in this case from the GrowSmarter API and from other triple stores containing Barcelona urbanistic data (where data is in RDF/OWL format). This is a first step towards integrating Linked (Open) Data. Discussed in this blog Solution 3: Smart energy-saving tenants Solution 6: Waste heat recovery Solution 8: Big data management
Gonzalo Cabeza Site Manager, Barcelona For the previous blog post, click here
23 October 2017

Barcelona blog #7: Urban-scale air quality monitoring and microdistribution

Read about how Barcelona will pilot a beyond state-of-the-art wind and air quality monitoring network, including how it will integrate with the GrowSmarter platform. In addition, the first results from our last-mile delivery services with electric bicycles are available!




Action area 2: Integrated Infrastructures
To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

Sensor deployment in the 22@ district of Barcelona
Within GrowSmarter, measures are being carried out to develop an air quality model at the urban-scale using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations. In order to provide real-case inputs for the operational air quality nowcasting and the short-term forecasting of the CFD models, a set of monitoring sensors will be deployed in an initial pilot area in Barcelona. The monitoring nodes, composed of wind and air quality sensors, will be installed in 4 Smart Towers in the 22@ district. This use case will also include vehicle counting equipment for emission monitoring purposes.

An urban-scale air quality model - why?
Air quality and associated impacts on public health are matters of growing concern in many urban areas. Public administration and health agencies are tasked to monitor the quality of air and, eventually, to make model forecasts to assist the adoption of reactive measures and to warn the public of air pollution that could affect vulnerable groups of citizens.

Urban-scale pollutant dispersion models require of two critical inputs: high-resolution wind fields near urban-scale morphologies (buildings) and pollutant sources (mainly derived from vehicle combustion) through sensors and emission inventories. Today, the increase in computational capabilities is making it possible to envisage a near-future scenario in which Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models will be used to simulate urban-scale winds and pollutant dispersion operationally. In this scenario, the massive deployment of low-cost sensors for monitoring wind and the concentration of critical pollutants will be critical.


Mesh of Barcelona, obtained from LIDAR data, topography and cadastre data



Results for wind field (speed and direction) obtained from CFD simulation



Web-based graphical user interface for visualisation of air quality results


Sensor deployment at 22@ district of Barcelona
Using the city of Barcelona as a test bed, this use case will deploy a low-cost sensor network to extend the current monitoring network of environmental sensors to selected urban areas of Barcelona. Real-time data will be used to initialise and validate an in-house CFD-based high-resolution (tens of meters, hourly output) urban-scale air quality model before its operational implementation. This system is being developed at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) in a joint collaboration with the Barcelona City Council (IMI - Municipal Institute of Information) and the CAPTOR project, who provides the monitoring nodes that integrate the air quality and wind sensors.

The monitoring nodes for wind and air quality will be installed in 4 GrowSmarter Smart Towers in the 22@ district, also including vehicle counting equipment for emission monitoring purposes.

The use case will deploy a monitoring system for:

  • Wind field (speed and direction),
  • Air quality (NO2 and O3),
  • Flow of vehicles (vehicles per minute).


  • Each monitoring node will be composed of an Arduino node, which have been developed as part of the Horizon 2020 CAPTOR project, and integrating several sensors on a single device. This control hardware node is in charge of monitoring, management and post-processing of raw data coming from the following integrated sensors:

    • a Davis anemometer for wind direction and velocity
    • several (up to 3) NO2 MOX sensors
    • several (up to 3) O3 MOX sensors
    • vehicle sensor to detect flow of vehicles


    The environmental Arduino nodes will be deployed in the 22@ district and are self-contained packs that are designed to be installed on public street lights and poles at a minimum height of 5 meters to avoid vandalism. All the devices in this pack are designed to be long-lasting and highly durable to reduce maintenance. This installation pack is composed of the components shown in below:


    Components of the Arduino pack


    The collected data will be sent to the GrowSmarter platform through the GrowSmarter API. The data will be used by the air quality monitoring software (nowcasting) developed by BSC-CNS that can predict wind fields in the streets with a resolution of 10 metres and 1 hour, and gas concentration with resolution of 10 metres and 1 hour. These resolution values are beyond the state of the art in air quality modelling for nowcasting.

    Moreover, the sensing data information and the sensor-derived nowcasting maps will be offered as Open Data to third parties through the GrowSmarter platform so that consumers of these environmental data can use this information to provide environmental monitoring services.

    Benefits for GrowSmarter
    This use case is a clear example of synergies gained from integrating infrastructures of GrowSmarter: The Smart Towers will provide support for the monitoring nodes and provide communication infrastructure, while the GrowSmarter platform will provide the required data storage for the collected data. The air monitoring software is an example of a service developed on top of the GrowSmarter platform that will provide monitoring services. Moreover, this use case is an example of collaboration among different entities and projects beyond the GrowSmarter project.

    Action area 3: Sustainable Urban Mobility
    To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

    First results on the microdistribution of freight in Barcelona
    In January 2017 the microdistribution platform became operational. The service is offered by the company Vanapedal. The municipality of Barcelona has leased a public space to the company, which is obliged to be neutral in the market and work with any logistics operator willing to use the service.

    The main objectives of the measure are to:

    • Introduce a more efficient and effective freight transport system in the city centre,
    • Analyse the administrative management of a public concession,
      Analyse the business model of the service,
    • Analyse the reduction in CO2 and vehicle kilometres due to shift from conventional vehicles to electric bikes, and
    • Test a new sensor system to measure pollutants and other environmental parameters using the bicycles of the service.


    The Last Mile Operator Vanapedal offers different services, the most relevant of which is the distribution of parcels and packages from other carriers to their final destination. Carriers bring these items to the microplatform which is conveniently located close to the city centre. These are then transferred to electric bicycles and tricycles. The last mile is then performed by drivers from Vanapedal following their established routes. Parking and access regulation do not apply to bicycles, so no delivery time window restrictions affect the distribution.

    The service has been running since January 2017 from the Estació de França location with success, although the market is difficult to reach since there are also competitors and some logistics companies have begun operating their own last mile deliveries using sustainable modes of transport.


    Location of the microplatform at Estació de França


    Currently, up to 9 bicycles are being used in daily operation. The company gathers all business information of their operations including the daily number of deliveries and pick-ups, the number of kilometres covered and the time needed to cover all routes. This information is being collected monthly and the first results of the analysis of this information have been made. During the first three months of operations, 23,000 journeys have been performed and an increase in the daily number has been noted.


    Average daily number of journeys


    In February, the average distance covered was of 65.5km/day, while in March this figure increased to 160km/day due to the introduction of three more tricycles.


    Km performed by all bikes daily between January and March 2017


    Also, the effectiveness of the deliveries is being monitored. So far, the average percentage of successful deliveries has been 92.73%. This value has increased over time, but it is seen as very good compared to conventional carriers.


    Evolution of the daily effectiveness of deliveries


    The next step is to continue analysing the data obtained from the operator of the microplatform and compare it with the data obtained from the sensors that have been installed in three bicycles that offer further information such as the routes followed or the concentration of contaminants.

    The last step of the process will determine how much traffic and CO2 this measure has reduced. This will help to encourage other cities to implement similar last mile services.

    Discussed in this blog
    Solution 8: Big data management
    Solution 9: Sustainable delivery

    Gonzalo Cabeza
    Site Manager, Barcelona

    For the previous blog post, click here
8 June 2017

Barcelona blog #6: Nearly Zero Energy Buildings and innovative heating/cooling solutions

Action area 1: Low Energy Districts
To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

Smart solution 1: Works ongoing in the refurbishment of tertiary building Ca l’Alier

The refurbishment work in the future office building Ca l’Alier is ongoing. The building, owned by a Public-Private Partnership between the Municipality of Barcelona and Cisco, is composed of three units built in 1877 with a total surface of 2,400 m2. It has been out of use for a very long period, and thus suffered from degradation of the building facilities.

The old textile factory will be rebuilt into a nearly Zero Energy Building (nZEB) including a range of passive and active measures. nZEB describes buildings with energy use near to 0 in a “typical year”, meaning that much of the energy consumed comes from the building itself by means of renewable sources. The renovations will be carried out in order to turn the building into a "prototype of a self-sufficient habitat" that produces enough energy resources to meet its own demand. The project aims to achieve a Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certificate awarded by the US Green Building Council.

Work on the foundation started in June 2016 and finished in April 2017, which is now followed by refurbishments to the basement, paving and underground sewage networks that started in April 2017 and will continue out through 2017.


Foundation work in September 2016. Source: BIMSA



Ongoing refurbishments. Source: BIMSA


Ca l’Alier will demonstrate the feasibility of an nZEB site through active technologies, such as LEDs and occupancy sensors for lighting, variable speed fans and free-cooling for HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), photovoltaic panels, connection to the local DHC network that uses waste heat from Municipal Solid Waste incineration, and a Smart Energy Management System. Passive measures include exploitation of natural lighting, wall and roof insulation to lower heating and cooling demands, and rainwater collection to lower water consumption, among others. In order to meet the technical specifications for nZEB, coverage of 70% or more of the consumption of primary energy will be from renewable resources while a special effort in the design has been put on lowering the building energy demand. Also, the energy management system will be capable of optimising current consumption and forecasting the future building energy consumption. Finally, Ca l’Alier will demonstrate the compatibility of open communication protocols with HVAC equipment.

With advanced ICT infrastructure, advanced control of facilities and connection to district energy networks, Ca l’Alier integrates the features of a low energy district and will be an excellent demonstration of smart city solutions in the city of Barcelona.

Smart solution 1: Refurbishment of the Sports Centre

Collaboration Agreement
Following the audit, engineering, proposal and negotiation phases, a participation agreement was reached within GNF and Fundació Claror. The sports centre up for refurbishment within GrowSmarter is the Cartagena Sports Centre, located in the Sagrada Familia neighbourhood in Barcelona.

The refurbishment is taking place under an Energy Services contract, through which the Energy Services Company (ESCo) provides a turnkey solution and provides the initial investment, while the customer pays an annual fee.

Public-Private collaboration
Fundació Claror is a non-profit organisation that manages publicly owned sports centres. The organisation is interested in carrying out energy refurbishments in the facilities they operate to improve sustainability, energy and economic efficiency, and increase comfort.

This and several other sports centres in the city are publicly owned, and exploitation is awarded to private companies by the Barcelona Sports Institute (IBE, in Catalan). This organisation has also participated in negotiations and supported the project.

The Sports Centre
The Cartagena Sports Centre is an urban sports centre with a large swimming pool area (over 600 m2), a spa area, an indoor sports pitch and a fitness area. Other facilities include group activity rooms and spaces dedicated to physical therapy. The total surface area is close to 3,000 m2.



Current equipment mainly consists of natural gas-fired boilers that satisfy most of the heating demand and DHW needs, electric heaters that serve the spa pool, an electric chiller that serves air handling units (AHUs) in the fitness area and other spaces, and dehumidifiers for the pool and spa areas.

Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs)
In the framework of GrowSmarter, an integrated refurbishment of the Centre’s facilities will be carried out, ranging from passive measures that aim to reduce thermal demand to installation of new equipment to increase energy efficiency in the production of thermal energy. The measures selected are intended to complement each other and achieve a technically and economically optimised level of investment and savings. Work in the sports centre began in April 2017.


  • As passive measure, the roof over the main pool hall has been refurbished by adding a layer of insulation within the dropped roof to reduce losses through this surface.

    Initial roof – no insulation

    Insulated roof

  • The heating demand of the pool hall will be further reduced by replacing the current dehumidifier with a new machine that consumes less electricity and includes a thermal recovery module. The bottom line is a reduction of the electricity consumption and heating needs of the pool space, ultimately reducing the amount of heat required from gas-fired boilers.

  • The current chiller will be replaced with a new electric heat pump that produces heating and cooling at a high efficiency. In order to integrate this heat which is available at 40-50ºC, it is necessary to separate existing thermal demands in low temperature and high temperatures through modifications in the distribution system. This solution is especially interesting in buildings with simultaneous heating and cooling needs such as sports centres (pool spaces are often heated while other areas are cooled).

  • To further capitalise on high-efficiency heat from the heat pump, the spa basin will be connected to the new heating ring. This will yield important electricity savings, as it is currently being heated using electric resistance heaters, which are very inefficient.

  • Heating needs not covered by the EHP (e.g. DHW heated up to 70-80ºC for sanitary reasons) will be covered using a new set of high-efficiency boilers replacing the existing ones.

  • Important electricity savings will come from replacing existing lighting equipment with equivalent LED lamps.

  • New equipment and other key systems will be monitored with a new Building Energy Management System (BEMS), which will provide relevant information for more efficient energy management and allow remote monitoring of main energy indicators via web access.



Altogether, total energy consumption is expected to be reduced by more than 40%.

Added value
Gas Natural Fenosa has been offering Energy Services contracts to commercial and industrial customers for several years, including several sports centres in Barcelona, making this project highly replicable in further clients.

Through this contract, Gas Natural Fenosa guarantees energy savings for the sports centre, providing an increased value to the solution from the client’s point of view. Data gathered by the BEMS will be fundamental to assess these energy savings. Furthermore, the company guarantees the correct running of the refurbished systems for the duration of the contract.
5 March 2017

Barcelona blog #5: public private cooperation in energy refurbishments

Action area 1: Low-Energy Districts

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here


Solution 1: Smart shell refurbishment


Site 1:

As mentioned in a previous blog post, this building is composed of 207 dwellings with a total surface of 14,165 m2, which will benefit from the passive refurbishment of the entire building façade. See the factsheet which provides an overview of this process here.


The scaffolding on various façades of the building. Source: PMHB


Insulation of the building is expected to lead to a reduction of the heating demand of the dwellings by approximately 43% due to the improved air tightness. The benefits for the tenants will not only be lower heating and energy bills, but also improved comfort and other qualitative aspects, such as noise and humidity insulation.


In order to assess the impact on user comfort, a survey and monitoring campaign was done in February 2017 for baselines, and a second survey and monitoring campaign will follow in 2018. Electricity and gas invoices will also be collected for baseline and reporting periods. The informational meeting with some of the tenants was held on 19 January, 2017 and was well received.


Meeting with neighbours of the building in order to inform them about the survey and monitoring campaigns. Source: IREC


All the refurbishment work in the residential building of Passeig Santa Coloma 55-71 is being promoted by the public body responsible for social housing in Barcelona, Patronat Municipal de l’Habitatge de Barcelona - PMHB.


A successful case of public-private partnership in a residential refurbishment project

In March of 2016, after long negotiations, the first agreement for a pilot project of passive integral refurbishment was completed in a residential building in Barcelona. The refurbishment is being carried out within the renovation plan of Canyelles, a neighborhood built in the 1970s in response to a period of great migration.


In 2007, an agreement was signed between the City Council and the neighbourhood association to carry out renovation work on 65 buildings with a total of 2,524 dwellings in six phases, over six years. Each phase has been designed to carry out actions in different buildings, giving priority to structural problems and the improvement of thermal insulation, but also contributing to improving the urban elements. Phase 5 began in 2016.


Thanks to the public-private partnership agreement between the Housing Agency of Catalonia (AHC), which manages the renovations in the Canyelles neighborhood, and Gas Natural Fenosa, one of six residential buildings to be refurbished in phase 5 was included in the Growsmarter project at the beginning of 2016. It is a 56-dwelling building of about 5,000 m2 and the refurbishment is mainly based on passive criteria.




The European subsidy (GrowSmarter) and the participation of Gas Natural Fenosa as an Energy Service Company (ESCO) meant the refurbishments could be more ambitious than orginally planned, including: the additional installation of new windows and blinds in those dwelling sthat agreed to participate (77%) insulation of façade was increased, exceeding the current minimum requirements and further measures, like change of boilers, installation of efficient water taps (aerators) and home energy management systems have been included.


As part of the renovations, home energy management systems (HEMS) have also been installed allows the owners to monitor the energy usage of their home, becoming aware of their consumption and learning to reduce this by adjusting their consumption habits. In addition, the lessons learned from the installation of the HEMS will help Gas Natural Fenosa to develop customised value-added services for its customers in the future.


The monitoring of consumption through the HEMS’ installation started in July 2016 and will be carried out for two years from the end of the renovation project. Taking into account the limitations of the Organic Law on Data Protection, the values of aggregate consumption of the building will be available on the platform of the Barcelona City Council. In addition to this, within GrowSmarter, the dissemination of the results will be carried out nationally and internationally, with the aim of replicating this experience in buildings with similar characteristics.


Renovations started in June 2016 were completed at the beginning of this year. A technical-energy study of these passive measures carried out in collaboration with the Catalan Association of Architects (COAC) indicates that reducing heating demand and increasing thermal comfort in winter. Under these criteria, it has been estimated that the improvements proposed in GrowSmarter will allow a savings of 44% over current total energy consumption.


What are the advantages of the public-private collaboration within GrowSmarter?

Collaboration between the Housing Agency of Catalonia and Gas Natural Fenosa combined the efforts of GrowSmarter with the Aid for the refurbishment of residential buildings in 2016, published by the Housing Consortium of Barcelona (CHB). Thanks to this, both this residential tower and the other residential buildings selected in the project will be able to offer financial support to the residents for these renovations.


On the other hand, Gas Natural Fenosa has the opportunity to test a new business model, acting for the first time as an energy service company (ESCO) in the integral passive refurbishment of a residential building.


this business model the customers (residents) deal with a single company that completes the renovations and keeps track of energy savings over time. The residents can choose to pay for their share of the investments through monthly fees or a single upfront payment.


The project will improve the quality of life of the residents, providing improved comfort, reducing energy consumption, increasing the value of the dwelling, all with a reduced investment and a very affordable form of payment.


Lessons learned: difficulties and replicability

Due to the low heating demand in residential buildings in Barcelona and that only an estimated 40% of the heating demands are covered (PECQ 2011-2020 - Energy Plan, climate change and air quality of Barcelona), it is difficult to justify the renovations based only on savings. The aspects to be considered are rather the improvement of thermal comfort and the increased value of the property. But even so, the investment needed for the energy refurbishment are not affordable for the owners alone.


In the case of this project, the ongoing refurbishment project for the structural façade provided an an opportunity to tack on additional sustainable renovations, taking advantage of the fact that costs for painting, scaffolding, etc. could be shared.


The public-private collaboration is still a key factor in carrying out these measures: public administration has the role of proposing ways to favour the amortization of building refurbishment, for example through subsidies or tax incentives, and private enterprise can solve the problem of high investment costs for individual owners by acting as an energy services company (ESCO) to the community of owners of the building.


Smart solution 3: Stochastic model of appliance energy consumption


Among other research activities being carried out at the IREC (Catalonia Institute for Energy Research) is a GrowSmarter measure called the ‘Stochastic Model of Appliances Energy Consumption’. This is a tool that provides detailed load profiles of electric devices in a household.


In its current state, the tool is able to randomly generate the load profile of 15 different appliances according to the characteristics of the household, e.g. the building type (single family house or multifamily house), the number of occupants (from 1 to 5 occupants) and the appliance stock (type and energy labelling). This random generation of use profiles is based on the Spanish Time Use Data (TUD), a survey done in Spain by the Spanish Statistical Office (Instituto Nacional de Estadística, INE). TUD describes what people do at home over the course of the day, providing occupancy patterns and relating them to the use of appliances (e.g. if the activity is “laundry”, the “washing machine” will be used at that moment).


Structure of stochastic model of appliances energy consumption


As an output, the model provides the following information: a) detailed profiles of each appliance’s consumption at 3-minute intervals b) a summary of the annual energy consumption of every appliance; and c) an energy comparison with more efficient appliances.


Impact of the stochastic model in the current trends of progressive electrification of households

The Stochastic Model of Appliances Energy Consumption is expected to be integrated in energy simulation tools and/or platforms to provide detailed information about the energy consumption of appliances in residential buildings.


From the point of view of the professional sector, this tool will generate detailed information related to electrical devices consumption. The aim is to design comprehensive strategies to reduce and manage energy consumption, including all types of energy usage in the residential sector, not only thermal ones (heating, cooling and domestic hot water).


From the point of view of the end-user, the tenants will have accurate and personalised consumption profiles at hand, enabling them to improve the energy performance of their homes. The most important impact of the model is to raise awareness about appliances’ consumption among citizens, in order to address appropriate strategies to improve energy efficiency in homes and to contribute to changing customer behaviour.



Action Area 3: Sustainable Mobility

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.


Microdistribution of freight: On-board sensor units.




The on-board sensor unit deployed as part of the GrowSmarter project will be installed in the electric vehicles used in the microdistribution of freight measure in order to track different parameters (temperature, humidity, pollution, location …) while the tricycles are moving through the city. The information collected by the sensor units is transmitted to the GrowSmarter platform. These data can be lately used as input for different applications (e.g to determine the benefits of the micro-distribution of freight or to analyze the variation of pollution in a specific area)




2CAT has been working on the design and implementation of the on-board sensor unit that will be installed in several electrical vehicles used for the distribution of freight in a specific area of the city. This prototype is a multi-sensing wireless device that will monitor several parameters, such as temperature, luminosity, humidity, noise level, air pollution, and also the position at which these measurements are taken, so that it will be possible to map these parameters and monitor their variability during the full two years of the pilot duration. This monitoring solution will serve to:


• Explore the feasibility of tracking environmental parameters in a city in a mobile scenario with low-cost sensors to complement the information from the static environmental and pollution stations installed in specific places the city.

• Evaluate the environmental impact of the micro-distribution of freight solution through the comparison of the pollution in the delivery area with the one in its edges.

• Provide real-time tracking information about the path followed by the tricycles, which can be helpful to optimize delivery routes and, thus, improve the service and make it more competitive for the last-mile operator.


The sensing unit in the tricycles will be powered by the battery of the vehicles and will support cellular and WLAN communications to transmit the monitored information to the Growsmarter platform, where it will be processed and made available for the city services.




The mobile devices deployed in the project serve also as proof of concept to show the feasibility of using on-board units to monitor different parameters in a wide area (such as a city). This would help to reduce the expenses of installing and maintaining static and dedicated equipment for this aim.


During the next months i2CAT will work on the integration of the prototype with the electrical vehicles and on its on-field calibration and validation before the measure definitely starts. The microdistribution service is expected to be fully operational in early 2017.


Roberto Furió

Site Manager, Barcelona

31 October 2016

Barcelona blog #4: passive refurbishments in the residential sector and semantic data

Action area 1: Low-Energy Districts

Passive refurbishment in the residential sector by Barcelona Municipality


One of the refurbishment measures implemented by the Municipality of Barcelona within the scope of the GrowSmarter project is being carried out in the residential building of Passeig Santa Coloma 55-71. This building is composed of 207 dwellings with a total surface of 14,165m2, which will benefit from retrofitting to improve energy efficiency and comfort.


Aerial view of the building with 207 dwellings. Source: PMHB


The work will include the passive refurbishment of the entire building façade. This refurbishment involves the addition of external insulation on the North, East and West façades, as well as in the South façades that are not protected by a terrace, together with treatment of thermal bridges. Both EPS and wool insulation will be used, the former being applied on ventilated façades and the latter on the rest of façades. Insulation on each façade has been optimized in order to protect indoor spaces from weather conditions depending on the orientation and irradiation received. The benefits of passive refurbishment will be assessed by means of thermal imaging before and after the refurbishment.


Horizontal section of façade: current state (left), addition of EPS insulation (center), and addition of wool insulation in ventilated façade (right). Source: PMHB


This insulation technique is expected to lead to a reduction of the heating demand of the dwellings by approximately 43% due to the improved airtightness. The blinds of all the windows in the building will also be upgraded.


According to the calculations on energy savings prior to the refurbishment, the baseline total primary energy consumption of the building is 100.88 kWh/m2, while the same figure for the refurbished building is expected to be 53.36 kWh/m2. The fuel for space heating in this residential building is natural gas, so any reduction in space heating demand directly leads to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.


Current state of two of the façades of the building. Source: PMHB


The benefits for the tenants will not only be the impact in their heating energy bills, but also improved comfort and other quality aspects of the building, such as noise and humidity insulation.


In order to monitor the impact of the refurbishment on the building’s energy consumption, 4 of the dwellings will be monitored to collect data from electricity and natural gas consumption of the apartments once the façade retrofitting is completed. In addition, the Municipality of Barcelona has also implemented a monitoring system for the existing 13 domestic hot water installations fed by a solar thermal system on the rooftop of the building. Finally, the assessment of comfort conditions will also be carried out in several dwellings by measuring the indoor temperatures, humidity and CO2 concentrations. This experimental assessment will be carried out by means of a survey to the tenants.


Data visualization platform of the monitoring of solar thermal installations. Source: PMHB


All the refurbishments in the residential building of Passeig Santa Coloma 55-71 are being promoted by the public body responsible for social housing in Barcelona, Patronat Municipal de l’Habitatge de Barcelona - PMHB.


Action area 2: Integrated infrastructures

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.


Using semantic data integration to process city data

Cities and their citizens are producers of large amounts of diverse data. Diversity of many data sources is in fact one of the biggest issues in big data processing. Semantic data integration offers unique advantages as opposed to more traditional approaches, such as ETL (Extract, Transfer, Load), which create bottlenecks for data access and doesn´t scale as well as technologies that consume data directly without moving it around. It´s worth mentioning that semantic technologies and linked data are not a competitor for the role that databases play; they complement database technology to allow ad-hoc exploration and the integration of semi-structured and unstructured data (temporal, spatial, network, etc) that can be sparse and can hide implicit information. They model an open world in which data and metadata can evolve naturally and new implicit relationships may be discovered based on explicitly defined relations and constraints. Semantic technologies are about capturing variable, dynamic, linked schemas, regardless of where or how the actual data is stored.


Integrating Barcelona’s data sources

Barcelona´s big data integration solution is based on such a semantic approach. The idea is to provide a modelling layer (8.2) that reflects the concepts and relationships for the domains addressed in the GrowSmarter project (energy, mobility, and integrated structures), and to access the data instances through this model rather than directly. This makes it easier to integrate further data, as well as to explore and query it without having to understand what the real structure of the database is. It is also a powerful tool for quick data integration and access, which could be useful when porting it to a new city with different data.


A number of components must be in place to successfully deliver on this promise, as shown in the figure below:




The user should have access to the ontology exploration and query tool that enables him to find concepts of interest in the model via a local search starting from anchor entities identified by the tool. In addition, the user must be able to intuitively construct queries without having to learn the query language (SPARQL). In our implementation, queries are constructed visually and are translated into calls to the GrowSmarter Data Platform (Semantic Layer in 8.2). This process relies on the crucial step of retrieving the mappings between the data storage schema and the ontology concepts (8.3). It is a semi-automatic collaborative tool in which the domain experts must select from the recommended mapping those that best reflect reality. Once the API calls return results, these will be combined into a unique result and returned to the user or the application that formulated the semantic query.


We have finished the development of the energy ontology starting from the T.U. Wien ERO ontology and adjusting it in close collaboration with our energy domain experts, IREC (Barcelona). We are in the process of developing the mobility (and contamination) ontology. We have implemented the mapping tool based on LogMap from Oxford University, and we are in the process of hooking it up to a tool that facilitates visualizing the recommended mappings. The last implementation step will involve connecting the semantic queries to the GrowSmarter Data Platform and computing and displaying the final results on the city map.


Transferring results to other cities

The intention is to make this approach available to applications that work with data from the City of Barcelona, and to then select a subset of them - in collaboration with our partners from Köln and Stockholm - that could be ported to work with data from these cities. This can be a first step in demonstrating the viability and advantages of a semantic approach, and of our toolset, for data integration and seamless application access to different sets of city data.

31 May 2016

Barcelona blog#3: Smart taxi management in Barcelona

With our taxi tracking app solution we hope to help manage the taxi distribution in Barcelona by guiding taxi drivers to head to empty stands waiting for a service, or to those which have the highest demands to pick-up clients.


Find out how we are planning on developing this app and when the trials begin!




Action area 3: Sustainable Urban Mobility

Smart taxi management in Barcelona

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.



Over the last few months Cenit, Cellnex and the city council have worked together to identify the taxi stands that will host in this measure.


We have been also in contact with the taxi institute of Barcelona (IMET) which is the public organisation that regulates this sector in the city. Three taxi stands were selected –shown adjacent- based on the requirements of IMET and the specifications set out by Cellnex e.g. network coverage in order to ensure good communications.


The idea is to develop a tracking app solution consists of the monitoring these taxi ranks in order to provide valuable information for both taxi drivers and users of their services. Through the installation of parking sensors in the taxi stands and its connection to the GrowSmarter platform it will be possible to develop an app to inform of the availability of taxis in real time.


This will enable taxi drivers to head to empty stands waiting for a service, or to those which have the highest demands to pick-up clients. The information provided will be very valuable and the measure will evaluate if a full roll-out to the city is feasible. From the client point of view, the information displayed will also be useful as they would have the option of heading to the stands with the higher number of taxis and increase the probability of taking one.


The city council has already contacted several technology providers to start the procurement process. Meanwhile Cenit and Cellnex have been discussing how the information will be provided to start creating the app that will display the information. The installation and the trial period is expected take place during the last trimester of the year to start full operations in early 2017.




Joan Blanco

Site Manager, Barcelona

For the previous issue, click here

29 February 2016

Barcelona blog#2: Speedy charging stations – only 20 mins!

We have been busy over the last few months installing fast charging stations across the City to make it quicker and easier for electric vehicle users to get about.


We are also installing a tool in over 200 dwellings for citizens to monitor their electricity consumption via their smartphone, tablet or computer, at any time, in any place. 







Action area 1: Low energy districts

Introducing the Wi-beee, helping residents save energy

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.


Over 200 dwellings in Barcelona have signed up for installation of a consumption analyser Wi-beee. The Wi-beee is a unit that monitors and gathers electrical data with the purpose of helping consumers better manage their energy consumption. Once it is installed, the device converts the measured parameters into information that is sent via a Wi-Fi wireless connection.


Like Cologne and Stockholm we have a number of other measures which would ideally be rolled out in an integrated way, however the exact location has yet to be finalised together with our citizens. Our citizen consultation is ongoing and as soon as we have some more updates we will share this with you.


Action area 3: Sustainable Urban Mobility

Speedy charging stations – only 20 mins!

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.


Over the last few months, Endesa and Barcelona Council have worked together to install fast charging stations in strategic places across the city to encourage take-up of electric vehicles, which can now be charged in only 20 minutes.


This speedy charging service is thanks to new technology, developed by Endesa, called Fast Charge Station (FASTO) or Fast Together. FASTO has a maximum power of 50 kW DC which allows electric vehicles (EVs) to gain an additional 60 kilometres of range in a charge of only 10 minutes. The unique design of FASTO means it can be installed quickly and integrated into all kinds of urban environments. It can be used for both private vehicles and city-owned fleets.


Three connector types currently used in the market (CCS-Combo), CHAdeMO and AC Mode 3 charging protocols are combined into one module optimising its functionality and compatibility with all EV equipped with fast charge system.


FASTO’s simple human interface is designed to improve usability and interaction between the user and the fast charger. In addition, the charger can be managed remotely and integrated into e-mobility systems which are in place across the city. Currently, four out of five fast charge points have been installed.


By connecting up a network of fast charging stations across the city we can work towards providing a continually better service for EV users in Barcelona. The chargers are able to collect a range of performance indicators and direct user feedback e.g.where the best location is for installing these fast chargers, how they work, any additional services which may be desired, possible improvements to explore etc.


At the same time, we can keep track of the monthly electricity charged or the number of charging events per year and calculate the reduction of CO2 emission in Barcelona as a result of EVs and electric charging.




Joan Blanco

Site Manager, Barcelona

For the previous issue, click here

30 November 2015

Barcelona blog #1: Urban ontology for a smart city

Our contribution from Barcelona is going to be short but hopefully informative. We focus mainly on the smart city data platform that we are developing, and the neighbourhood consultations we are carrying out.


Action area 1: Low-Energy Districts

Converting data: urban ontology for a smart city


City leaders in Barcelona understand the city as something dynamic and changing; a network of networks, as illustrated in their conceptual model of the smart city in Barcelona, which is broken down into three layers: People/ Information/ City Structure.


In order to systematically describe all the elements in a Smart City in terms of all stakeholders, activities, relationships, outcomes etc. Barcelona is working to develop a City Information Model for city ontology that could be used across all city systems and by all city stakeholders.


Currently, Barcelona has an open data portal, OpenData BCN30, which opens up city data sets to the public and has three main aims:


1. To increase the transparency of the City Council

2. To universalise data access

3. To promote innovation and the economic fabric


The GrowSmarter-BCN platform (GS-BCN in short) will allow the consolidation, aggregation and use of existing and new sensor data. Application developed by different use cases and measures will run on top of this platform to monitor and control the performance of lighting, environment, energy consumption, etc.


Like in Cologne, the idea behind this model is to enable data to be easily shared city wide and made available with consistent Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) so that developers could develop apps that straddle different city systems and so that services (such as payment systems, registration systems, management systems) could be reused across different city systems. It would also enable digital services that are developed for one city to be much more easily be used by another city.


Sustainable Urban Mobility


Barcelona is an extremely compact city, which offers an advantage for sustainability. However, it leads to serious challenges of noise, traffic congestion and pollution. We are working currently together with stakeholders who use the roads on a daily basis, not only citizens but taxi drivers and logistics vehicles to find the best solution for making Barcelona a cleaner, healthier city to live in.



Barcelona: building energy self-sufficiency


Barcelona is the first European city to stipulate that all buildings undergoing major refurbishment had to use solar energy to supply 60% of their running hot water requirements.


As part of our strategy to promote energy self-sufficiency Barcelona aims to decrease demand and consumption, minimise losses by optimising the infrastructures. At the moment we are undergoing a citizen consultation and as soon as we have some more updates we will share this with you.