The ee-Wise project: Energy efficiency through building retrofitting in the Mediterranean region

EnergyCompany articlesSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 2/2014

After the European Commission adopted the Communication "Energy Efficiency Plan 2011" for saving more energy and increasing industrial competitiveness through concrete measures, strong emphasis has been put on building renovation of the existing building stock.

This includes new requirements for insulation, cooling systems, hot water supply, energy consumption, use of solar energy, lighting, etc. Increasing the knowledge of energy efficient retrofit technologies and their effective implementation is essential. That is why new approaches and methods of knowledge transfer, communication and implementation are vital to reach all the different profiles and retrofitting cases that may exist.

The ee-Wise project
A serious problem that must be solved is that knowledge transfer isn’t flowing effectively among agents in the value chain of the EE market. ee-WiSE is a project under FP7, which aims to improve knowledge transfer between different stakeholders in the construction sector. The project aims at developing a Knowledge Transfer Framework (KTF) in building retrofitting, with special attention to SMEs in the Mediterranean region.

ee-WiSE is focused on this particular geographic area because of its weather conditions and the fact that the traditional building sector there was tremendously affected by the real estate bubble burst. The project puts an emphasis on retrofitting rather than on new buildings, considering the greatest potential of EE measures in existing buildings, the high incidence in CO2 emissions of the buildings stock and the large number of SMEs involved in the construction sector.

The main project activities are identifying concepts and definitions, gathering information and best practices and analysing them, designing the KTF and its tools, testing and validating it, and finally providing guidelines and recommendations under key topics for the sector. The KTF is designed and equipped with a specific set of tools in four main areas - knowledge transfer to: disseminate general EE retrofitting knowledge (raise awareness); boost the EE market (raise knowledge towards a competitive market); promote professional contact (to generate new knowledge), and exploit Research and Development (through experimental buildings).

Value chain, needs and best practices
The effective flow of knowledge transfer among all value chain agents on the EE sector (particularly SMEs) depends on few basic aspects: identifying the agents, the needs, and finally the best practices. A successful EE retrofitting value chain should ensure that all participating members benefit from the knowledge on Energy Efficiency for Buildings, in the most relevant category to their profile.

The knowledge transfer through the value chain is determined by the decisions of a large number of actors/organisations that can be grouped into agent groups acting directly within the value chain or influencing the value chain from the outside. Some of the principal key players (agents) in the retrofitting flow chart are financial agents, public administration and government, standardization bodies, software developers, R&D institutes and universities and installers.

Among other significant agents, involved with retrofitting technologies, are meteorologists, manufacturers, providers of technical solutions, energy companies, energy distributors, grid operators, etc. Architects, engineers, building managers and occupants also play major role, together with intellectual property bodies, life cycle assessment companies and certification bodies.

A very important element concerning the total of 20 agent groups in the value chain is that within one of the working packages of the project - Definition of the Knowledge Transfer Global Strategy: Guidelines and Recommendations, a set of knowledge transfer processes in Knowledge Management according to the sector needs will be elaborated. This would contribute to new knowledge generation, to the introduction and the enhancement of the contacts and communication among the agents of the value chain.

Therefore a special set of 4 guidelines for knowledge transfer would be created and delivered to the EE value chain members: for business models; for EE market up-take development; regarding cross-sectorial collaboration and for knowledge transfer public procurement, standardization and certification.

Needs for effective knowledge transfer
The needs identified for effective knowledge transfer through the retrofitting value chain have been classified into 5 groups: skills and awareness; knowledge management; approach to R&D; financial conditions; institutional and administrative conditions.

 Thanks to this study the ee-Wise Consortium has been able to summarize the sector’s knowledge transfer needs for building (EE) retrofitting. Identifying the needs wouldn’t be possible without statistical analysis based on the results of a total of 1057 questionnaire surveys submitted by stakeholders in the EE sector from different Mediterranean countries (Spain, Greece, Italy, Malta, Cyprus, Turkey and Bulgaria).

Each group forming the EE retrofitting value has its own particular needs when it comes to acquisition of knowledge from other value chain groups, as well as for the communication process among them. 
Best practices
An essential factor for the operation of the EE retrofitting value chain is to make sure that all groups in the value chain are aware of and kept up to date with the latest developments in materials, technology, mode of application, applicability to particular climatic conditions, limitations of use, and many other factors. By means of the analysis of the identified best practices, both through the desk research and via the examples suggested by the questionnaire respondents, a total of 43 best practices have been recorded, 16 of them identified by the questionnaire feedback and the other 27 identified through desk research.

The top ranked best practice, considering the mentioned criteria, is the Construction21 Europe platform that reaches 19 out of 20 of the value chain actors, i.e. all actors except for the climate agent group. Thus, this platform has a huge potential in being the catalyst for a high quality of knowledge transfer activity throughout the EE retrofitting value chain. Currently, six countries are actively participating in this project.

The second ranked best practice is Build Up Skills, an energy efficient training platform for actors involved in the construction sector. Reaching 16 of the value chain actors, the Build Up Skills program is implemented in all of the EU countries. In the same ranking position as the Build Up Skills project, at second place, we find the
Programme for EE Retrofitting of Bulgarian Households
Although operating solely within Bulgaria, with no other participating countries, this best practice reaches out to the agents involved in retrofitting of 36 urban centres within the country and offer extensive financial benefits and assistance to ensure high-end EE retrofit.

The expected project results could be categorized into two main groups: direct benefits from the KTF; and indirect benefits for the society. In the first group is the main outcome of the project, which is the KTF tool itself - an instrument for knowledge exchange among the Mediterranean countries, and even in the whole EU. The online tool has been created thanks to methodology based on the needs identified by each group of actors in the EE value chain. Another direct benefit is the identification of the existing best practices and proposed solutions to meet the sector’s needs.

Energy savings through renovation of existing buildings brings unquestionable long-term benefits for the society: reduces public spending, potentially improves energy security by reducing fossil fuel imports, and improves worker’s productivity and people’s health. And last, but not least, energy efficiency has proven to be one of the most effective climate change instruments, in terms of reducing CO2 emissions.

УCopyright 2014 The ee-Wise Consortium
Consisting of:
• I NTROMAC - Consorcio para la Gestion del Instituto Tecnologico de Rocas Ornamentales y Materiales de Construccion
• Eolas S.L.
• Projects in Motion Limited
• Bulgarian Construction Chamber
• AIDICO - Technological Institute of Construction
• Enercya S.C.
• Organismos Limenos Raphinas AE
• Positive Energy
• Ege Universitesi
• Ierides & Michael Architects General Partnership
• X-Panel Ltd
• Istituto Sperimentale per l’Edilizia SPA
• Avaca Technologies Consulting, Informatics AE

This document may not be copied, reproduced, or modified in whole or in part for any purpose without written permission from the ee-Wise Consortium. In addition an acknowledgement of the authors of the document and all applicable portions of the copyright notice must be clearly referenced.

All rights reserved.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.