Advisory services ENERBUILD

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Within the ENERBUILD project, not only an evaluation of 46 buildings within the Alpine Region to test the ENERBUILD Tool has taken place, but also a testing of 5 Certification bodies and advisory services.

The summaries and findings on the pilot testing of advisory services by region

Advisory service by RAEE Lyon

Environmental Quality of Building (EQB) - a new tool to achieve energy targets

Metropole Savoie, observer of ENERBUILD project, decided in 2009 to advise projects to be energy efficient and had also the will to implement an eco-conditionality of public subsidies at the same time.

Rhônalpénergie-Environnement, through ENERBUILD project, added the concept of Environmental Quality of Building (EQB) to this „energy target”, which goes much further than the classical energy target. This EQB could also help Metropole Savoie to define some criteria of eco-conditionality for public subsidies.

Towards an advisory service in Metropole Savoie

The first steps of an advisory service had been established. Metropole Savoie implemented an energy advisory service for schools and public buildings. During ENERBUILD Rhônalpénergie-Environnement convinced Metropole Savoie to go further towards EQB, trained 3 local energy agencies, who where the traditional structure of energy advisory towards EQB via the tests of 8 buildings and implemented the advisory service through the local energy agencies.

Implementing an advisory service about Environmental Quality of Building with a local energy agency such as ASDER and through tools like ENERBUILD Tool is an innovation in the Rhône-Alpes Region and it could grow easily.

Possible extension of the EQB assessment tool and the ENERBUILD tool

The works started with Metropole savoie and could easily be extended to the whole part of Savoie territory (200 municipalities). It could also be extended to other territories of Rhône-Alpes, because there are already local energy agencies in all Départements (8 Départements, 12 local structures). These local energy agencies are organised through a network, and work together in many fields. What ASDER learnt and implemented in advisory services will be an example for other structures and can be disseminated.

ASDER has always advised Metropole Savoie in the Energy field. RAEE convinced ASDER to work on tools such as ENERBUILD and trained them to the ENERBUILD Tool. ASDER developed skills about this subject and is now convinced of the interest of such tools.

During the ENERBUILD project RAEE discovered that an EQB assessment tool must be elaborated at regional level and not at municipal level. So RAEE started discussion with the regional council to implement a tool on the ENERBUILD frame, at the regional level. This regional tool could be therefore adopted by local authorities.

The definition of a set of criteria must come from a public authority bigger than a local authority. Indeed, architects, engineers and companies working on the buildings usually works at a much wider scale than the local authority, at least at the regional level. Because all actors of building have a range of action wider, they must not be in front of many different tools.

Advantages of and challenges the EQB tool

The sooner a building benefits from advice from an advisory structure, the best chances it has to have a good score at the ENERBUILD Tool. It means that the establishment of an advisory service is crucial for the results, and this advisory service has to be involved since the beginning of the project. And it’s more complicated to operate as advisory service when the project is already started.

An environmental quality of building tool should be shared by all actors of buildings, meaning that in the definition of criteria should be involved professional such as architects, engineers, craftsmen, companies and users. This is an important question of governance of such a tool, and in the certification process, all these actors should be also involved.

There should be a pedagogic work done towards the contacting authority, especially if the building comes from a small local authority, with not so many competencies in low energy building. It’s important to „train” the contracting authority and to provide them some pedagogical material.

RAEE has suggested to the regional Council to implement a regional EQB assessment tool in 2012. It will present all the works done in ENERBUILD to the whole regional network of local energy agencies to extend that competency in EQB to all these actors. RAEE will work in 2012 at the French inter-regional level, trying to get the same approach in all French regions, to get a shared tool. This tool would be the basis for an eco-conditionality of subsidies.

Strengths and weaknesses of ENERBUILD tool

What is a great strength of ENERBUILD Tool is its compactness, with a limited number of criteria and simple to use.

The time spent to collect all data can be very long in some cases (data for the transport criteria for instance). Some criteria can take a lot of time to be assessed, meaning that the process of evaluation is more expensive.

To calculate the OI3 index was quite difficult, because the calculation of embodied energy is not usually made by engineers in France. The calculation of the OI3 index is based on German or Austrian projects, not for France. The tool should allow the calculation with national tool, giving the same hypothesis for all tools (life duration of the building, scope of the calculation etc…). Using such tools raises the question of tools and databases of products at European level.

Advisory service by Piemonte

An advisory service has been established by Regione Piemonte to support the use of ENERBUILD Tool in the region. On a base of a specific agreement, the service has been operated by ITACA (Federal Association of the Italian Regions) that already has the responsibility of an advisory service for Protocollo ITACA assessments on public buildings in Regione Piemonte.

General information about the advisory service

The advisory service has also acted as contact point for the ENERBUILD Tool, providing information to interested professionals and organizations. The service has been established also to check the feasibility of a possible future certification process based on ENERBUILD Tool approach.

The advisory service has been operated by 4 architects/engineers skilled in the use of ENERBUILD Tool. The advisory activities have been carried out in three different modalities:

  • phone – a dedicated number has been associated to the advisory service. The service has been operated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 am to 12.30 pm;
  • e-mail – a specific e-mail address has been associated to the advisory service;
  • meetings – several meeting with the designers and organizations involved in the application of ENERBUILD Tool have been carried out.

The service has contributed, trough the ENERBUILD Tool, to disseminate the sustainable building principles among the main stakeholder of the building sector. The service was available for any interested professional and organization. This last aspect has been appreciated from different involved public organizations that now intend to use the ENERBUILD approach to assure the process and planning quality of future buildings.

Results of pilot testing of ENERBUILD on advisory service

The importance of the synergy between the technical work of designers and the quality of process managed by the organizations to assure a high level performance of the building emerged clearly. The application of ENERBUILD Tool to existing buildings has given the possibility to identify possible improvement in the design quality for the future buildings and also in the whole planning process. From this point of view the experience gained by all the participants to the initiative has been recognized of high value. The experience carried out with ENERBUILD Tool will allow to improve the regional tool for building assessment – Protocollo ITACA. Criteria from ENERBUILD Tool will be implemented in the future versions of Protocollo ITACA for public buildings, in particular with regard to the process and the construction materials performance.

The assessment system used in Regione Piemonte is actually not including criteria on the process and planning quality, neither criteria based on the LCA approach. For this reason the assessment activities carried out in ENERBUILD have given the possibility to experiment new indicators that will be proposed to the Italian regions trough Itaca for their inclusion in Protocollo ITACA. Regione Piemonte intends also to promote ENERBUILD Tool at international level in the way to recognize it as a possible common platform for sustainable building assessment in the European regions. From this point of view the Region has facilitated the interaction with ENERBUILD and the IRH projects.

Strengths and weaknesses of the ENERBUILD tool

ENERBUILD Tool has showed to be an effective tool to assess the environmental performance of low energy buildings. Nevertheless the experience carried out has given the opportunity to identify some possible improvements.

A different version of the Tool should be defined following the different uses of buildings (office, school, residential, etc.). Not all the criteria are relevant for all uses and, more important, different performance benchmarks should be fixed.

For some kind of buildings, due to the use, is more easy to reach a better performance for instance with regard to the energy criteria than others. An unique energy consumption target seems not adequate. The Tool assumes that the assessed building has a very good energy performance. The minimum score is given to buildings performing much more than the standard buildings that in any case are fulfilling the energy regulations requirements. For this reason we suggest to recalibrate the performance scale to valorize the buildings that are not able to reach a passive house performance but that in any case are better than the standard practice.

Due to the fact that ENERBUILD Tool is used also in geographical contexts other that only the mountain, it would be necessary to include a criterion on water consumptions that could be eliminated in specific situations.

Advisory service by Styria

The ENERBUILD project has given EAO (Energieagentur Obersteiermark) the opportunity to further educate their advisors, particularly on passive house and modern building technology. These have been previously neglected technologies, since there is a lack of awareness about them in our region. The EAO has planned to improve that awareness along with the development of our advisory service within the framework of ENERBUILD.

Advisory service: General facts

The advisory service is open for private persons as well as business enterprises during the office hours from 8 am to 4 pm. Due to the financing of the association through municipalities; the energy counseling on basic level is free of charge for citizens of member communities. However, special or more extensive advisory service is liable for costs. The EAO also maintains good relationships with the municipalities in our region. The EAO supports municipalities and regional initiatives as advisor for energy related solutions from public building energy analysis to support in regional development planning. The experts also give lectures on passive house building, high ecological reconstruction and the use of passive technologies and components in reconstruction.

The work with the ENERBUILD Tool prototype has lead to the adoption of the PHPP-Program for the calculation of buildings. The test of the tool and the improved advisory service has lead to a new calculation scheme for planned building and reconstruction projects. The extensive and detailed data, derived from the tool, are very helpful for the comparison between different possibilities of implementation. The gained insight also inspired a new consultation approach on municipalities.

Effect of the application of the ENERBUILD tool on advisory service

The advisory service with the ENERBUILD Tool was overall very fruitful and informative. The improved advisory service is well received by public and private customers. The ENERBUILD Tool is very extensive and yields results on a very detailed level. This creates awareness for building technology that has hitherto not existed in our region. The good acceptance of solutions on such a high level is also owed to our good personal contacts to regional businesses. This has lead to a network of innovative companies that are committed to the development of new tools and products.

The information, communicated in the advisory service and the extensive and detailed data provided by the ENERBUILD Tool will stimulate the market by creating exacting demand from private and public building owners. The continued advisory service itself will raise the awareness of builders directly. The sum of all activities will provide incentives for a higher quality in house building and house reconstruction in the region overall.

Analyses and effects of ENERBUILD tool for region

The analysis of settlements, the incorporation of a closer look of the infrastructure in the area of the analyzed building would be the consequent extension of for the evaluation of the impact of a building on the environment.

An ecological analysis in form of lifecycle analysis would put into account the otherwise external costs of production, transportation and disposal of all building components. This improvement would put more emphasis on the use of regionally available, renewable resources and local know-how on the processing of such goods. Since the cooperation with local companies is essential for the successful implementation of the ENERBUILD process in the region the highlighting of regional, eco-friendly components for buildings would not only complement the purpose of ENERBUILD but would also be very well received.

Even though it’s most difficult to implement, the acceptance of ENERBUILD Tool evaluation for subsidy application would be of greatest significance for the improvement of the ENERBUILD-process in our region. This point has been proven in the district Vorarlberg, where the subsidy for building measures depends on the rating of the respective building through the ENERBUILD Tool.

Resumee and Conclusion

The testing of the ENERBUILD Tool documents the operable structure of the tool. In particular the comprehension, usability, cost effectiveness, regional adaptability of the tool. This is supported by the positive feedback of the established advisory services and certification bodies. Additional the project partners made some suggestions for improvements on criteria level.

The regional adaptation and implementation of the ENERBUILD Tool into the public subsidiary system of public buildings in Vorarlberg in 2011 and the scheduled implementation of the ENERBUILD Tool in the province Alessandria in 2012 shows the applicability within the existing building market.

Andrea Moro integrates the ENERBUILD Tool into the international debate on the assessments of buildings. In his study „Comparison of Assessment Labels” he prescripts the position of the ENERBUILD Tool as following „The transnational comparison of main the existing labels shows the absence of a common approach. […] Common public policies and common market actions would need a common reference certification. […] It would be necessary to identify at European level a common set of key criteria (and relative indicators) that should be adopted by the national/regional labels in the way to allow the comparison of buildings performance. In this sense an interregional tool like ENERBUILD Tool can play a key role. ENERBUILD Tool is already a synthesis of the most important building assessment criteria in the Alpine region, having been recognized by all the project partners. From ENERBUILD Tool it would be possible to extract the most significant indicators that could be part of the European common set.”

The next steps are:

  1. the improvement of the tool (water – consumption, spatial planning, energy efficiency and energy production (photovoltaic)
  2. the exchange of the ENERBUILD Tool and its evaluation results on the European level
  3. capitalizations of the positive experiences and knowledge in the different Alpine regions as well as in other European areas


Publication: Education programs and vocational trainings for energy saving and producint buildings in the Alpine Space (2012)