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The IEA provides support for international collaboration on energy technology R&D, deployment and information dissemination. These groups function within a framework created by the IEA - the International Framework for International Energy Technology Collaboration. The views, findings and publications of these international groups (formally called Implementing Agreements) do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or of all its individual member countries. OECD Member countries, autonomous OECD non-member countries, intergovernmental organisations, non-governmental organisations and private sector entities may participate. For more information, see our Technology Agreements page.

Buildings and Communities

Approximately one-third of end-use energy consumption in IEA Member countries occurs in residential, commercial and public buildings. Uses include heating, cooling, lighting, appliances, and general services. Buildings are therefore a major demand on energy resources and the emissions associated with supplying and consuming this energy make up an important component of total emissions. Despite a general improvement in the thermal performance of buildings, much energy is still inefficiently used. The Implementing Agreement on Energy Conservation in Buildings and Community Systems (ECBCS) focuses its work on ways to improve energy efficiency in buildings. Its programme includes developing techniques to analyse how energy use in buildings impacts on the interior, local, regional and global environments; work on the optimisation of building envelopes, advanced local energy planning, computer-aided fault detection and diagnosis, and the use of daylight in buildings (in collaboration with the Implementing Agreement on Solar Heating and Cooling); and improving the availability and use of design tools. ECBCS administers the Future Buildings Forum. In cooperation with other buildings-related Implementing Agreements, the Forum organises workshops aimed at identifying long term energy, environmental, economic and technical issues related to buildings and the R&D needs associated with them. The Agreement also operates the Air Infiltration and Ventilation Centre, which distributes R&D results and undertakes selected studies on specific topics. The Centre operates an Internet site at http://www.aivc.org Work by ECBCS has resulted in numerous achievements. These include the development of techniques for energy efficient avoidance of condensation in buildings; the development of a tool to assist practitioners in the design of non-refrigerative cooling of buildings; evaluation of the performance of computational methods for heat loss, ventilation and air/pollutant transport; the development of techniques for fault monitoring and the optimising of building services systems; and the use of new information technology to link building energy management systems to remote control and monitoring centres via the Internet. These and other results have been successfully applied in participating countries. The majority of ECBCS’ work is conducted through task-sharing in which each country commits resources to the programme.

Signatories : Australia | Austria | Belgium | Canada | China | Czech Republic | Denmark | Finland | France | Germany | Greece | Ireland | Israel | Italy | Japan | Japan | Korea, Republic of | Netherlands | New Zealand | Norway | Poland | Portugal | Spain | Sweden | Switzerland | Turkey | United Kingdom | United Kingdom | United States |
For more information: http://www.iea-ebc.org/

Current Projects (Annexes)

05. Air Infiltration and Ventilation Centre
Established for over 20 years, the Air Infiltration and Ventilation Centre provides technical support in air infiltration and ventilation research and application.


51. Energy Efficient Communities
Scope The scope of the project covers the design of long-term energy conservation and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation strategies and their continuous optimisation either on a community level or on the level of a municipal quarter. A holistic approach is decisive for the spectrum of measures that are to be developed – comprehending generation, supply, transport and use/demand of energy and considering short-term as well as long-term measures – in order to ensure the best possible economic efficiency for the community. Another part of this approach is the use of modern management methods using delegation of responsibilities, marketing and conflict resolution, as described in the ALEP (Advanced Local Energy Planning) guidebook of Annex 33. The use of integrated evaluation methods and tools suited to identify an optimised combination of measures that will increase the overall energy chain efficiency in communities ‘from cradle to grave’ will be necessary. During implementation, the improvements should be quantified and monitored using the same tools, as the achieved improvements can be traced using the same energy system model as in the planning phase. The availability and quality of such tools will be verified through the evaluation of existing experiences from case studies. Such an integrated approach is not focused solely an ever-increasing reduction of the energy demand on the one hand or on technologies which improve efficiency or increase the use of alternative energy sources on the other. The real issue is to find the ideal combination of both and to devise a strategy that ensures that these measures will be implemented in practice. Objectives and Benefits The main objective of the project is to use an integrated and multidisciplinary approach as a basis for providing tools, guidelines, recommendations, best-practice examples and background material for designers and decision makers in all fields concerned. This integrated approach will enable communities to set up sustainable and secure urban energy structures and identify the specific actions necessary to reach ambitious GHG-reduction goals. The second objective is to transfer these experiences to other communities and enable them to establish their own local strategy in order to reach their desired sustainability goals. The players addressed by the project are planners, decision makers on urban investments (buildings, infrastructure, commercial estates) and local administrations. The novelty of the approach lies not in technical innovations, as is the case with most other ECBCS projects, but in exploring effective paths that implement these innovations in communities with an increased rate. Research Issues The project will address the following research issues: The energy conservation approach: how to find the economic minimum of energy demand using recent advances in building physics, heating/ventilating innovations and “smart building” potentials The low exergy approach: how to minimize exergy consumption during energy distribution and supply in communities The renewables approach: how to maximize contributions of solar, biomass, geothermal technologies etc. by integrating them into existing or new supply structures. Potentials of existing and novel technologies will be evaluated using new analysis tools. Needs for new developments will be identified. The holistic system approach: evaluation of the dependencies between energy supply and energy demand within the communities and development of a long-term strategy for the system as a whole including distribution. Structure The project will be structured according to the following four research areas: Methods and Design Tools for Energy Efficient Communities; Case-studies I: Local Energy Planning for City Quarters or Neighbourhoods and Implementation; Case Studies II: Integrated Energy Planning for Communities and Implementation Strategies; Knowledge Transfer and Dissemination.


52. Towards Net Zero Energy Solar Buildings (joint effort with SHC IA)
The objective of the project is to study current net-zero, near net-zero and very low energy buildings and to develop a common understanding, a methodology, tools, innovative solutions and industry guidelines. A primary means of achieving this objective is to document and propose practical NZEB demonstration projects, with convincing architectural quality. The projects will aim to equalise their small annual energy needs, cost-effectively, through building integrated heating/cooling systems, power generation and interactions with utilities. The planned outcome of the project is to support the conversion of the NZEB concept from an idea and a 'slogan' into practical reality in the marketplace. It is anticipated that demonstrating and documenting real projects will also lower industry resistance to adoption of these concepts. The joint international research and demonstration activity will address concerns of comparability of performance calculations between building types and communities for different climates in participating countries. The goal is to achieve solution sets that are attractive for broad industry adoption. The scope includes major building types (residential and non-residential), existing and new, for the climatic zones represented by the participating countries. The work will be linked to national activities and will focus on individual buildings, clusters of buildings and small settlements. Research Areas Analysis, Methodologies & Large-Scale Implications Energy Efficiency and Energy Supply, Simulation and Tools Advanced Concepts, Architecture and Design for Non-Residential and Residential Buildings Dissemination


53. Total Energy Use in Buildings: Analysis and Evaluation Methods
One of the most significant barriers for achieving the goal of substantially improving energy efficiency of buildings is the lack of knowledge about the factors determining the real energy use. There is often a significant discrepancy between the designed and the real total energy use in buildings, in which a complex array of factors play a significant role, including the user / occupant behaviour. The reasons for this discrepancy are generally poorly understood, and often have more to do with the role of human behaviour than the building design. The ultimate outcome of this project is strengthening the robust prediction of energy usage in buildings, thus enabling the proper assessment of short- and long-term energy measures, policies, technologies. The main objectives are to: develop a new methodology for analysis of building energy use that makes it possible to investigate the effects of the main influencing factors demonstrate how these data can be used to provide meaningful indicators of energy performance of buildings (for example expression of energy use for different end uses that are generally applicable among different buildings) develop a methodology for performance prediction of energy saving policies and technologies that includes the influence of a number of related factors development of methodologies and technologies for long term monitoring of the energy use in buildings.


54. Analysis of Micro-generation and Related Energy Technologies in Buildings
The project will undertake an expansive analysis of micro-cogeneration and associated technologies. The scope of activities will encompass: - multi-source micro-cogeneration systems, polygeneration systems (i.e. integrated heating/cooling/power generation systems) and renewable hybrid systems (collectively termed micro-generation) - the integration of micro-generation, energy storage and demand side management technologies at a local level (integrated systems) - customised and optimum control strategies for integrated systems; the analysis of integrated systems performance when serving single and multiple residences along with small commercial premises; and the anyalsis of the wider effects of micro-generation on the power distribution system.


55. Reliability of Energy Efficient Building Retrofitting - Probability Assessment of Performance and Cost
The scope of the project is to develop and provide decision support data and tools for energy retrofitting measures. The tools will be based on probabilistic methodologies for prediction of energy use, life cycle cost and functional performance. The impact of uncertainty on the performance and costs will be considered. Methods based on probability give powerful tools that can provide us with reliable ranges for the outcome. The ultimate outcomeof the project will be to develop knowledge and tools that support the use of probability based design strategies in retrofitting of buildings to ensure that the anticipated energy benefits can be realised. These will give reliable information about the true outcome of retrofitting measures regarding energy use, cost and functional performance. The principle objective will hence be realised by merging hygrothermal building physics with probability and economic analyses. The methods developed will then be applied to optimise energy retrofitting methods. The main objectives of the project are to: - develop a common framework for probabilistic assessment of energy retrofitting measures - develop and validate probabilistic tools for energy use, life cycle cost and hygrothermal performance - collect and analyse data in order to create stochastic data sets - apply and demonstrate probabilistic methodology on (at least) five real life case studies, with a focus on residential buildings


56. Energy and Greenhouse Gas Optimised Building Renovation
The project aims at developing rules and procedures, as the basis for future standards, enabling cost effective refurbishment of existing buildings within the international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and climate change mitigation. This implies rehabilitation towards nearly-zero emission buildings. The main objectives are to: - provide tools, guidelines, recommendations, best practice examples and background information for policy makers, designers, users, owners and developers that help to reduce GHG emissions in the existing buildings sector - link the IEA buildings-related research programmes to end users through accessible language and tools that enables them to understand the problems and risks associated with energy efficiency and their role as users, decision makers, developers or stakeholders - clarify the limits of the emerging concepts and their associated points of view in order to validate their effective impact on achieving present goals - include the notion of 'added value' as a key parameter for the existing building retrofit process


57. Evaluation of Embodied Energy & Carbon Dioxide Emissions for Building Construction
This Annex is set to run from 2011 until 2015. The main objective of the project is to provide: • an overview of existing standards (both international and European), literature and methodologies on the evaluation of embodied energy and CO2 emissions in the construction sector; • guidelines to improve existing evaluation methods of embodied energy and CO2 emissions; • guidelines to reduce the level of embodied energy and CO2 emissions in new constructions. The analysis will be conducted based on existing case studies on the embodied energy of a given building. The Annex members will collect these case studies using their respective networks, and will then harmonise them into a template that summarises the case studies findings and methodologies in a common and comparable format. The main stakeholders to be involved in the Annex’s work are: • construction materials manufacturers; • construction companies; • “designers”, including architects, contractors, etc; • investors and owners; • governments.


58. Reliable Building Energy Performance Characterisation Based on Full-Scale Dynamic Measurements
This Annex is set to run from 2011-2015. The ultimate goal of the project is to develop the necessary knowledge, tools and networks to achieve reliable in situ dynamic testing and data analysis methods that can be used to characterise the actual energy performance of building components and whole buildings. The main objectives of the project are to: - develop common quality procedures for dynamic full-scale testing to come to a better performance analysis - develop models to characterise and predict the effective thermal performances of building components and whole buildings


59. High Temperature Cooling & Low Temperature Heating in Buildings
The project aim is to improve current HVAC systems, by examining how to achieve high temperature cooling and low temperature heating by reducing temperature differences in heat transfer and energy transport process. Specifically, it is considering how to avoid unnecessary offset of cooling and heating, dehumidification and humidification, mixing losses of cold and hot fluids, or unnecessary or inappropriate transfer losses due to heat exchange. The scope includes commercial buildings, such as offices and buildings containing large enclosures. It will principally be for the benefit of building owners, building designers and equipment manufacturers. The Annex will run from 2012 until 2015.


60. New Generation Computational Tools for Building & Community Energy Systems Based on the Modelica & Functional Mockup Unit Standards


61. Development & Demonstration of Financial & Technical Concepts for Deep Energy Retrofits of Govt/Public Buildings & Building Clusters