Smart Building Complex

How can a building stock be developed to satisfy future energy and climate requirements, without costing a fortune? Chalmers researchers will find the answer to this question using the entire campus area as its laboratory.

The building stock at Chalmers' Johanneberg campus is a fairly typical office area. There is a mixture of different buildings – most were built in the 1960s, long before the issue of climate became topical. 

Reality today is different. The changeover to a sustainable society demands that existing building stocks also become energy efficient. To investigate how this can be done in a smart and cost-efficient manner, Chalmers is using one of its two campuses as a big laboratory in the Smart Building Complex research project.

By focusing on the energy balance in the entire area, it should be possible to save more energy than if each building were to be individually optimised. For example, the excess heat that is formed when a building is cooled can be used to heat up another building. 

The first step involves mapping out energy utilisation in all of the buildings on the campus and creating an energy model of the area. The model can then be used to evaluate how the various technical solutions and other changes impact the area's energy usage. 

"It is a matter of looking into the future and making intelligent assessments of what can be done now and in the future to gradually make the campus sustainable as it is developed," explains Ulf Östermark, who is the programme manager for Energy on Campus.

The time perspective is long, from 5 to 45 years. Buildings are long-lived, and the idea is to bring about a cost-efficient sustainability adaption. The rationale of the project is to ascertain which measures need to be implemented, and when, to reach the goal of energy efficiency and lower climate impact. Is it possible to raise the energy standard in a specific building at the same time it is to be renovated anyway, or does it need to be done earlier? The project aims to produce knowledge that can be applied to buildings in Sweden and internationally.

Modern technology and IT are enablers in the project. Many inexpensive sensors and meters will transmit information that is processed with smart and learning systems. More detailed understanding of the buildings and how they are used increases opportunities to make smart changes from the perspective of energy – to use less energy and still obtain the correct, or improved, function from the buildings.

Contact: Zack Norwood and Holger Wallbaum

Page manager Published: Tue 13 Mar 2018.