University of Strathclyde & Arbnco partner to solve energy efficiency fails in buildings


The Energy Systems Research Unit (ESRU) at the University of Strathclyde is working with software provider Arbnco on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership to work out why the actual energy performance of buildings is often well below design expectations.

This gap leads to higher costs, higher consumption, unhappy clients and can foster distrust, and therefore energy efficiency investment apathy.

According to Arbnco, many initiatives investigating energy performance gaps make use of dynamic integrated building performance simulation tools to analyse remedial actions and upgrades.

Building simulation differs from compliance type models, such as Simplified Building Energy Model (SBEM), currently used to support estate management. However, this capability of simulation models is often compromised by the lack of prior calibration to match prediction to current performance.

This KTP aims to develop a software tool to undertake such calibrations automatically. It is hoped that the tool will lead to high-quality building simulation models for posterior use in energy analysis and decision-making regarding the operation, maintenance and retrofitting of large estates.

Arbnco intends to integrate the software into its product suite. 

The calibration tool will employ actual performance data (energy and indoor environment) to routinely calibrate building simulation models prior to application for energy analysis. The KTP will also incorporate an element of ‘wellness’, with both Arbnco and the University of Strathclyde studying potential uses of calibrated models to evaluate interactions between energy, thermal comfort and indoor air quality.

Professor Joe Clarke, director of ESRU, stated: “This KTP will contribute towards closing the energy gap and understanding its causes. KTPs are an exceptional knowledge transfer mechanism, allowing academics to convey research outcomes to a business via a recent graduate. In this way the business can accelerate the transformation of research to new commercial products and solutions.”

Maureen Eisbrenner, co-founder of Arbnco explained: “People’s health and wellbeing should be at the core of everything we do and we need to ensure buildings are not only energy efficient but a positive environment to work in. The KTP aims to highlight poor performing buildings and, more importantly, the reason behind poor performance.

“The long-term plan is to develop a tool that can be used internationally. This means that funds with buildings in multiple countries can develop a consistent global policy on asset and energy management.”

Related stories:

A third more buildings than thought could be ‘unlettable’ under new energy efficiency rules

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