IREEN – ICT for Energy Efficient Neighbourhoods

IREEN is a strategy project which examines the ways that ICT for energy efficient and performance can be extended beyond individual homes and buildings to the wider context of neighbourhoods and communities.

IREEN is funded under the EC’s 7th Framework Programme as a Coordination and Support Action. Grant Agreement Number 285627. The project commenced 1st September 2011 for 24 months (August 31st 2013). The project budget is a total of 1,464.5K Euros.

The key aim is to extend the notion of energy positive buildings and by extension, districts and neighbourhoods. “Energy positive” are buildings / areas being those that have the capacity to generate more energy than they use. This can be achieved in three ways:

Low energy consumption – less than the energy than they have produced over a given time
Facilitating eco-responsible behaviours
Consuming low energy over their “life cycle” requiring less energy for their construction and less for the use by users/occupants.

Taking the context of current industry social and economic trends and challenges currently facing Europe, the project will engage with a wide range of stakeholders including those from technology, energy, construction, local authorities, building managers and owners.

IREEN aims to engage European and other international experts and stakeholders in discussions and workshops to gather their input in to a strategy and the final output from the project a roadmap. The expertise will be drawn from the energy sector (both providers and distributors); the technology industry including appliance manufacturers, infrastructure and software technologists; the construction sector; stakeholders from the demand side including local and regional authorities. IREEN will also connect to smart cities partnerships across Europe.

A project advisory group drawn from a wide variety of disciplines working across Europe will provide additional expertise.

The four key objectives of the project are:

Building of a knowledge community adding value to existing ones (REEB, ICT4E2B Forum, dedicated ETPs, Eurocities, Energy Cities etc.) for ICT-enabled energy-positive extensive areas.
A community including experts to help identifying and updating barriers and challenges towards ICT solutions for energy efficient extensive areas, including standards and regulations, resulting in the production of new knowledge and case studies, to be spread among the community stakeholders.
The review and analysis of strategic innovation agendas as developed in previous or ongoing EC coordination actions (REEB, Smart Grids, REViSITE, etc.), and relevant EU initiatives such as the SET Plan Industrial and “Smart Cities” initiatives to identify overlapping areas with energy efficient extensive areas.
Development of an “Innovation roadmap” (supporting the future establishment of European-scale actions from RTD to experimentations up to actual procurement and public private partnerships establishments for further business-oriented technology deployment).

Project Papers

These are open access papers (PDF) published by the IREEN project

ICT for energy efficient urban communities: the IREEN Roadmap and the case of a developing city

The concept of smart districts and neighborhoods, and by extension smart cities, is today developed as a potential answer to the challenges generated by a more and more urbanized world, with growing global populations and migration from rural areas to cities, along with the need to maintain necessary supplies of water, energy, communication and transport to meet growing demands in urban centers, and in parallel a mandatory evolution of old and established city infrastructures. It encompasses the idea that, along with all the constituencies of today and tomorrow cities (homes and buildings, energy grids, transportation, water networks, etc.), information management is to be the key asset that will sustain the smart (knowledge informed) city of the 21st century: “digitalizing” cities’ buildings and infrastructures would allow them to collect and analyze data in order to respond intelligently to all domestic needs, allowing cities to grow with their infrastructure overloading, based on comprehensive information-driven strategies, with city sustainability as the ultimate goal. Proceedings of the CIB W78 2013: 30th International Conference –Beijing, China, October 2013

ICT supporting energy efficiency improvements in urban and rural neighbourhoods

This paper presents the key findings of IREEN. Energy efficiency is an increasingly important issue in the built environment for both urban and rural areas of Europe. To date the focus has been typically at the building level, but is increasingly concentrating on broader systems, such as neighbourhood and city levels. ICT can significantly contribute to the energy efficiency of neighbourhoods through a range of systems, tools and solutions. Achieving truly energy efficient neighbourhoods requires a holistic approach to include all the energy systems of a neighbourhood, such as buildings, infrastructure, transportation, energy distribution and production, as well as the involvement of citizens. All these areas have an impact on energy efficiency, and it can be supported by ICT in the following technology areas: 1) planning, designing and operation, 2) decision support, 3) energy management, and 4) integration technologies. Procedings of SB13 Portugal, Contribution of Sustainable Building to Meet EU 2020 Targets, October 2013.

Methodology for assessing the energy efficiency potential of ICT applications in neighbourhoods.

The methodology proposed is suitable to assess the energy efficiency potential to various application areas identified in IREEN: data storage solutions for districts that require energy-efficient solutions in the implementation of data centre; the calculation of order effects of ICT on new integrated neighbourhoods with information technology; issues and problems of the smart grid at the neighbourhood scale. The aim is to offer a way of assessing the energy efficiency potential of ICT applications used to manage energy systems in buildings, transport, manufacturing industry and electric power grids. This methodology, in order to overcome lacks of quantitative data, has a structure based on rigorous definitions and calculations, integrated by shared semi-quantitative estimations made by experts. By adopting this simple methodology policy makers could quickly simulate the impact of different policies, identifying the technologies that need more support, while investors could envisage the most promising opportunities of the growing green economy. This is also suitable for assessing the energy efficiency potential not only of ICTs but also of other energy efficient technologies, manage energy systems in buildings, transport, manufacturing industry and electric power grids. Poster – Assessing EE potential of ICT applications in neighbourhoods. Proceedings of CISBAT 2013 International Scientific Conference Cleantech for Smart Cities and Buildings From Nano to Urban Scale Lausanne, Switzerland, Sept 2013

Developing a strategy for the implementation of ICT in energy efficient neighbourhoods

This paper describes the IREEN activities including analysis of state of the art and best practises as well as the description of relevant visions and scenarios. It details how a group of selected experts from a broad range of different fields will validates the outcomes of the project and how representatives from cities are involved at early stage to ensure the practicality of outcomes. Both the strategy and roadmap will result in an ICT reference guide. ICT4S 2013 – ICT for Sustainability; Zurich, February 2013

Living Labs – user engagement on energy efficiency

People involvement is identified as an application areas within IREEN with the need to visualise data and engage citizens. This paper demonstrates how exploring the impact and opportunities of using graphical visualization techniques to enhance user engagement with energy use and contribute to ICT for energy efficient neighbourhoods. By combining a living lab approach to innovation with social media there is the possibility for user involvement in very large numbers, including city-scale communities. It contributes evidence in support of using ICT to enable users themselves to increase their energy efficiency rather than automating control away from the user, concluding that the former approach can achieve cost-effective, sustained savings that increased automation is unlikely to do. XXIV ISPIM Conference Innovating in global markets; Helsinki, Finland, June 2013

A real option assessment of flexible district energy systems

The widespread diffusion of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) that allow coordination of different energy resources and exploitation of real-time information on energy consumption, prices, and so on, is seen as one of the main enablers of future high-efficiency low-carbon district energy systems within the Smart Grid and Smart Cities framework. The paper explains how suitable models that can perform an integrated operational and planning analysis of ICT-enabled district energy systems and eventually develop an adequate business case for them are still missing. The aim of this paper is to develop an integrated approach to optimal operation and planning of ICT-enabled flexible district energy systems and demonstrate the potential for recommendations from IREEN. EEM 13 – 10th International conf. on the European Energy Market; Stockholm, Sweden, May 2013

The IREEN ICT Roadmap for energy efficient neighbourhoods

This paper focuses on the primary IREEN achievements, namely an initial state-of-the-art cartography of case studies, current practices and ongoing living experimentations, together with future extrapolations (innovative scenarios) on expected innovations on the use of ICT systems and applications for energy efficiency in districts/ neighbourhoods. It also introduces to the IREEN taxonomy matrix as a structured approach to classify priorities for future ICT R&D supporting energy-efficient neighbourhoods. eChallenges e-2012 Conference; Lisbon, Portugal, October 2012

The governance of energy in a data-driven cities, reflections on a European ICT roadmap

Reflections on a case study of energy governance in Greater Manchester, UK. Addressing the calls for pragmatist approaches to sustainable urbanism, the paper has a two-pronged purpose; to reveal emerging local governance practices relating to energy, and to highlight the implications of ‘data-driven’ approaches for energy governance. Paper to follow.

Driving towards energy efficient neighbourhoods by integrating Energy-from-Waste into a Smart Grid

A discussion of the viablity of community based energy from waste facility (EfW) with the use of smart grid to accept, distrbute, analyse, monitor and commuicate energy usage. Paper to follow.

Using smart technologies for user engagement in energy efficient neighbourhoods

A case study of two developments in the north of England using smart technologies for user engagement – Paper to follow.