Our overall aim is to demonstrate, through innovative solutions and integrated design of buildings and energy supply systems, that achieving plus energy standards at the neighbourhood scale presents several advantages compared to the single building scale:
We will achieve this by unravelling five main strategies:
Components, solutions, and strategies will be designed and chosen based on a total life cycle cost analysis. Higher investment cost may be warranted given that the operation and maintenance costs are lower. On the other hand, lower investment costs may be realized by exploiting synergies between different systems, e.g. a highly insulating building envelope may pave the way for a simplified and compact heating system. In addition, many energy reduction measures may be realized without increased investment cost, such as careful design of building volumes, shared use, and zoning. A third strategy is to take advantage of systems with double or triple functions, e.g. PV panels that functions as cladding or shading elements. In addition, significant savings may also be achieved by designing systems that encourage energy efficient user behaviour, reducing energy costs as well as power requirements. Such systems already exist on the individual building scale, but the syn.ikia team will develop and employ building management systems and user interfaces that will allow for optimal flexibility and performance for buildings and energy systems integrated at the neighbourhood scale.
By designing technologies, systems and strategies for flexibility and cost management in the neighbourhood, the syn.ikia team will facilitate peak shaving through load shifting, control, and storage, thus reducing the size of energy supply installations and infrastructure, increasing self-consumption of renewable energy, and reducing the stress on the grid. For example, a solar PV/heat pump combination can be used to convert excess PV power into heat that can be stored in a hot water tank. The heat pump can also be used to provide solar powered cooling in the summer. Other examples of solutions include smart charging of electric vehicles, using the building structure for storage, and smart energy management systems.
Significant cost savings may be realized by sharing energy infrastructure, and exchanging energy with neighbours, with various storage options, as well as with electric vehicles. The syn.ikia team will develop tools to unlock the flexibility and synergy potentials of active systems and components in the neighbourhood, taking into account users behaviour, as well as weather forecasts. This will be done by developing smart control systems and digital hubs that are able to treat large amounts of data in an efficient way. The syn.ikia neighbourhoods will be designed and operated to encourage social engagement, and a culture of sharing resources and caring about the environment.
An essential condition for successful plus energy neighbourhoods is to make them ‘shine’. This includes ensuring high quality architecture, creating good indoor and outdoor environments, and solutions that promote well-being for the occupants. In this way, the neighbourhoods will truly serve as lighthouse projects, increasing the attractiveness of such buildings, making the occupants and the community proud of their neighbourhood, and eventually making citizens care more about the buildings and environment.
Syn.ikia also benefits from the large-scale effects of the neighbourhood scale in itself, in particular when it is combined with new business models that takes advantage of this scale. For example, large construction contracts benefit from the economy of scale, and commissioning of large technical installations allows more detailed engineering of the solutions at lower costs compared to individual buildings. Nevertheless, integrated design of neighbourhoods are more complex processes than those for individual buildings. To deal with this, the syn.ikia team will develop design methods and tools for integrated design of buildings and neighbourhoods, which will make the design process simpler and less time consuming, thereby reducing the costs of such processes. Finally, the syn.ikia project will produce a multitude of higher-level measures to scale-up the solutions on a European level, such as innovation models, business models, policy measures, standards, and regulations.