Buildings Evolved participate in Public-Private Round Table at UN COP21

Buildings Evolved was proud to have been selected by CSIRO to attend the Mission Innovation 3 (or MI-3) conference in Malmo, Sweden between 22-24 May 2018, with Director and Technology Strategist Arne Hansen attending the event. Our Mission: to provide input to the World Economic Forum’s public-private round table tackling Clean Tech, specifically the “Global Affordable Heating and Cooling Challenge”. (Link: Buildings Evolved were brought to the conference to discuss concrete means to accelerate clean energy innovation.

Malmo is one of those cities that has undergone incredibly rapid transformation thanks to the Oresund Bridge which opened in the year 2000. Following that, enormous amounts of investment and the establishment of a university have completely changed the culture of a former industrial city into that of a highly educated and diverse community where much of Sweden’s R&D efforts are now being focused due to the proximity to Denmark and Germany. Malmo and Copenhagen (for the subsequent Clean Energy Ministerial event) made a perfect backdrop to discuss innovations in clean-tech as this area is internationally recognised as being a world leader in the adoption of sustainable technologies.


The Mission Innovation framework for action resides under the Paris COP21 agreement, with 23 member states (and the EU) from the main agreement forming the core of this R&D initiative with participants pledging to double their public spend on research into Clean Tech. Mission Innovation seeks to provide a collaborative global framework, with each member state identifying areas of R&D that they wish to take a lead on, with support from other member nations. This ensures that efforts are not duplicated between participants and that rapid action to alleviate global emissions is achieved.

With Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning  (HVAC) systems exploding across the developing world, critical thought has to be given to how we can both make HVAC affordable and sustainable in the long term. Traditional HVAC systems are disconnected systems that operate in isolation. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has found that changing to a connected and smart model of control could net savings in electrical demand of up to 50% and electrical consumption of up to 30%. Furthermore, the HVAC systems, being a major consumer of electricity, will be able to operate in a “buildings to grid” model, where the building and it’s subsystems are responsive to broader electrical grid issues, creating a bi-directional grid. The building is able to participate in demand response actions, network together demand into a virtual power plant, amongst many other options.

Australia has taken the lead role of building a “buildings to grid” Data Clearing House (DCH) as part of the Affordable Heating and Cooling Challenge (iHub).

The DCH software platform concept is for owners and operators of existing or new commercial, industrial, government, and mixed-use developments designed to solve common data related problems. The DCH is a consolidated, horizontally integrated data platform that collects, processes and securely shares smart building data. By making smart building data more accessible, the DCH will drive innovation amongst a broad ecosystem of participating service providers, leading to better products, increased competition, lower prices and an increased value proposition for participants.

Other components of this Affordable Heating and Cooling Challenge (iHub):

  • Thermal Energy Storage
  • Heat Pumps
  • Non-atmospheric heat sinks and sources
  • Predictive maintenance and control optimization
  • Physiological studies of thermal comfort

The DCH component is a critical part of the challenge, as it is a cross-cutting solution that binds all other elements together and provides measurement and KPIs against business as usual approaches.

A large portion of the property industry struggle with accessing their own data and see this problem as significantly impacting upon operations’. Watch this space for progress on the DCH – driving solutions to common problems in building management.


Monday 21st May

UN COP21 Mission Innovation Challenge #7 – Predictive Maintenance and Optimization – Research Planning Workshop.

Buildings Evolved participate in Public-Private Round Table at UN COP21 Mission Innovation 3 Conference in Malmo, Sweden – Day 2

Lead by the CSIRO (Australia) and working with TNO (Netherlands), Canmet (Canada) and the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (UK), Buildings Evolved participated in a research planning workshop. This was an opportunity to engage other participating nations to understand the broader context of what the IC7 challenge was seeking to achieve and outline their efforts and plans to address future areas of responsibility. Australia lead the discussions with the iHub’s ‘Smart Buildings Data Clearing House’ (DCH) being the “glue” that binds all other activities together.

Tuesday 22nd May

UN COP21 Mission Innovation Solutions Conference in Malmo, Sweden.

Day two showcased private sector offerings aimed at solving the climate crisis with leading and emerging technologies from across the world. Patrick Child of the European Commission highlighted the importance of the MI framework in delivering technology and innovations that have a real impact. The excellent Bertrand Piccard from Solar Impulse (the solar powered plane) gave an inspirational speech and ran through an incredible journey towards net zero flight – shaking up the aeronautics industry by adopting ship-building practices to lighten and strengthen his aircraft. Varialift airships showcased their autonomous airships that would revolutionalise the distribution of freight worldwide – travelling at 150km/h and with a 40 year lifespan, using helium and supporting payloads of up to 500 metric tonnes!

The vision of a Sun to Hydrogen fuel from the Solar Fuels Institute (see video) was next. Following that, we were given a run-through of the other MI challenge #7 activities, including improved heat pump technologies, building simulation modelling, self-driving materials labs and many other interesting technologies. Deb Noller from Australia also took the stage to discuss the ubiquity of data and how it is disrupting all areas of industry as part of the Affordable Heating and Cooling of Buildings IC.

The Australian Delegation, Jo Evans, Deputy Secretary of the Australian Department of Environment & Energy was next on the agenda. This was a highly interesting meeting where Ms Evans asked a series of questions at delegates designed to understand the attending companies agenda and to prompt them to think about the best way that Australia can engage with the process and extract maximum value for public spending in the area. The result was that we left feeling that the Australian Government would support the process and pave the way for innovation driven by the private sector.

The formal opening which featured the Malmo Symphony Orchestra with Nina Persson and MotoBoy. Back to the serious stuff, an incredibly powerful speech by the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, Dr Faith Birol, showed that despite the efforts to date, all we have done to date is slow the growth in emissions rather than drastically cut them. In fact, after remaining flat for 3 years, emissions rose again in 2017 to an all-time high.

The IEA outlined the scenarios if we stay on the same course, compared to a truly sustainable development scenario. To achieve this outcome, a wide variety of technologies are necessary to meet these sustainability goals; notably greater energy efficiency, increase in renewables, CCUS and nuclear. Individual ratings were given to each sector of the economy, with only 4 of 38 technologies meeting goals – notably Solar PV, the ICT sector, Electric Vehicles, and lighting. 23 need improvement and 11 are off track. Government policy and market design are instrumental in spurring innovation, deployment and private investment. Clean-tech R&D spend is on the rise globally, although we are only just above $20bn annually across the globe. Mission Innovation is helping push these numbers up, but in the grand scheme of things, this needs to grow dramatically.

Our Global Contribution

Buildings Evolved in concert with a CSIRO Energy team to:

  • Participate in an international initiative to share and collaborate smart building data for benchmarking, modelling and continual commissioning of built assets.
  • Provide research institutes and academics anonymised building data to improve the operation of buildings through innovation programs, research and development of the DCH.
  • Be part of Australia’s commitments to the Paris (COP21) agreement on climate change and help reduce emissions.

Watch this space for progress on these initiatives and more. To get express interest in the innovative iHub project contact a Buildings Evolved consultant here.

Wednesday 23rd May

Free morning in Malmo, the Smart Cities break-out session, why not? Smart Cities concept is an emerging sector, and the working group was eager to see how it relates to MI challenges, particularly the DCH. Heading down to the “studio” in Malmo, a funky co-working space, we engaged with European thought leaders, politicians and bureaucrats in a series of workshops to discuss the driving factors behind the adoption of Smart Cities – is it a solution in search of a problem? Or is it delivering real results to ratepayers and citizens?

In the lead-up to the event entitled “MI-3 Clean Energy Innovation – Public-Private cooperation on Clean Energy Innovation: Deals for Decarbonisation, we met with Dr Stephen White from CSIRO, Deb Noller from Switch Automation and Huub Keizers from TNO to discuss our expected outcomes and key points/factoids that could be used in the discussions. As a taster:

  • A “stock exchange for building data”
  • Improve productivity across multiple metrics: energy, grid integration, tenant comfort, dynamic building tuning
  • Reduce electrical demand in buildings by 50% (IEA)
  • Reduce electrical consumption in buildings by 30% (IEA)
  • 30% efficiency dividend in round 1
  • Require more R&D on building data analytics
  • Government to commit building stock into the iHub/DCH – to lead by example
  • Adopt/adapt industry initiatives such as GRESB, CDP, DJSI, LEED, Green Star etc.
  • Develop international benchmarking of building stocks

The main event: the Public-Private round-table

These events are governed by Chatham house rules, so no individual efforts or discussions can be made public, by convention to allow free expression of ideas without attribution. As such, we will highlight the outcomes:

  • What data is required to satisfy all market players?
  • Where is the innovation? How do we promote it?
  • How do regulations play their role in change?
  • How do we gain market acceptance and move to adoption?
  • How do we create a value proposition?
  • Virtual Power Plants and other new Cleantech cannot exist without data
  • Efficiency first, then decarbonise the sources.
  • The role of government in committing their building stocks to the international DCH project

The headline from the MI-3 conference was the last point: Government is called on to commit their building data to a common Data Clearing House.

“Ministers gathered in Malmö with key thought-leaders, Mayors and CEOs from global companies including ABB, ENGIE, Tata and Northvolt. Concrete results emerged from the discussions on public-private cooperation in key technology areas. On batteries, a declaration on the role of innovation to develop sustainable battery value chains was endorsed, and Ministers and CEOs agreed to work on sharing the performance of building’s data to reduce the enormous amount of energy lost by poorly performing heating and cooling systems.”

Our day, and our conference ended by taking a private boat from Malmo harbour across to Copenhagen. We had an outstanding display of nordic food and culture at the world-famous Langelinie Pavillonen on the Nordhavn harbour in Denmark. Langelinie Pavillonen is situated right in the middle of Copenhagen and is centrally located with airy and light panorama views of the Citadel, the marble Church, the city’s roofs and Langeliniekaj, where the Little Mermaid looks out over the sea. (photos)


Blog: Buildings Evolved attend the Mission Innovation Challenge 7 Priority Area 4 (Predicitive Maintenance and Optimization) Planning Workshop in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. September 27-28, 2018

We were incredibly honoured to be invited by CSIRO once again to an international conference, or in this case a research planning workshop, following up on work done in Malmo in May 2018. This was an opportunity to do a deep dive into the R&D efforts of each nation with most of the attendees being scientists and researchers from institutions similar to CSIRO, including:

  • CanMet (Canada)
  • Lawrence Berkely National Labs (USA)
  • Unina (Italy)
  • TNO (Netherlands)
  • JRAIA (Japan)
  • BEIS (UK)
  • Hydro Quebec (Canada)
  • Department of Energy (USA)
  • RISE (Sweden)
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) (USA)
  • Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná (Brazil)
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (USA)
  • University College London (UK)
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (USA)

After running through presentations from each country involved in IC#7, we discussed in detail the following topic areas:

Predictive Control

The art of predictive control is taking in forecast data or historical data to estimate future requirements; this could range from model predictive control (MPC), weather forecasting, and occupant preferences to a “climate box” that solves the control and modelling for small residential properties.

Control oriented emulator

Dr David Blum from Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (LBNL) gave us amazing insight into the work being done at LBNL and the development of open source building simulation and modelling tools such as BOPTEST, Energy Plus, Spawn of Energy Plus (SOEP), Modelica, FMI Standard, Open Building Control as well as moves in Control Description Language (CDL), Model Predictive Control, as well as work in the IEA annexes.

Other participants pointed to the inputs required to develop and build optimal control strategies that incorporate data from energy use, grid interaction, CO2 emissions and thermal comfort. Demand response, weather forecasts and electricity market spot prices were also discussed as inputs.

Data Clearing House (DCH)/ Open data platform

The DCH prompted the most wide-ranging discussions as it is the “cross-cutting” activity that bridges together all other aspects of IC#7. Dr Stephen White lead the discussions with group sessions to flesh out the requirements, paths to market and challenges of such a venture.

Demand Response (DR) and Flexibility

With the integration of generation and storage technologies into builidngs, the question of how best to manage these systems from a grid perspective is raised. The buildings should operate in concert with the grid so that both sides are not working against each other, rather they are working in concert to reduce costs, improve reliability and reduce emissions. Flexibility in consumption and demand is required to produce a responsive and adaptable grid.

Fault Detection and Diagnosis (FDD)

Currently, FDD is done with heuristic rules but there is plenty of scope for AI/ML to take over and add significant value. The issue faced by researchers is the lack of available data from buildings from which to draw these conclusions. Buildings are not connected and this makes inroads into FDD difficult. It is estimated by the IEA that FDD can save 30% of energy costs. It was pointed out by TNO that FDD also improves occupant comfort.

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