Net Zero Energy School - Reaching the community

Net Zero Energy School - Reaching the community

Portugal is presently facing major energy challenges such as the provision of long-term energy supply within a context of high dependency from energy imports or the need for an environmentally-sound energy system, within the context of the Kyoto Protocol. Dealing with these challenges is a matter of complexity, as conflicting interests arise when pursuing such a multi-variable optimization. It is fully acknowledged by governmental bodies worldwide that dealing with such complexity must necessarily pass by efforts to develop alternative energy systems that address demand locally, incorporate renewable and other domestic energy sources with emerging technologies of demand side management and contribute to sustainable energy consumption patterns, namely in the domestic sector.

The buildings sector represents 60% of the total electricity consumption in Portugal. Also in the EU, the sector's consumption has increased significantly, over the last years, in response to increasing level of comfort and to the proliferation of appliances. The EU's Green Paper on energy efficiency estimates that the current level of energy consumption could be reduced up to 20%, compared with baseline projections, by 2020. Energy efficiency is clearly mentioned as part of the portfolio of solutions. It is an urgent interdisciplinary problem to address energy efficiency and rationalize energy use in its technical and behavioral dimensions. Such process needs immediate, medium and long-term strategic approaches. An innovative approach as presented, tackles the need for long term solutions while addressing in detail short to medium term energy efficiency interventions within the school community. In parallel, the communication with the school population and its reflection on changes in energy consumption by the families involved, derived from a change in habits or technological implementations by the residents, are yet another essential way to address this challenge at a medium to long-term scale. Therefore, it is the scope of the proposal to address the school, the residences and the connection between both.

The interdisciplinary nature of the team assembled is thus explained by the complexity and diversity of the problem at hands that underlies a significant social dimension usually underestimated in energy studies, however totally justifiable on a sustainable systems approach. The case study develops about the Net Zero Energy School concept, giving emphasis to the impact of the energy efficiency actions implemented in the school and its expected effects in behavioral changes at residential level.

The project will start with a structural, behavioral and energy audits to the school which will be combined with an assessment of potential savings. Action plan will be prioritized according to the interventions potential contribution to decrease energy consumption of the school to a sustainable goal, which will incorporate the micro-generation technical-economical potential.

A key component to the study will be the communication strategy. The plan will convey the information about the impact of each intervention on energy consumption, to the school community, either through a web portal supporting the project, or using displays strategically placed in the school. Personalized information will be transmitted to registered users At residential level, the experiment is oriented to monitor the families' response in relation to the energy efficiency action plan presented in school. Selected houses may follow their consumption on the project's web site and assess a behavioral reinforcement scheme which will provide an analysis of consumption and environment impact assessment. A smaller experiment will consider the ongoing transformation of the electricity grids into "smart" grids which will support a number of interactions between electricity producers and consumers, such as close to real time feedback, distributed renewable generation, time-varying electricity pricing tariffs and the development of personalized energy services.

The experiment will involve a small number of families, where the level of comfort and operation will be declared by the residents, while an automated response of the support system will maximize energy efficiency in houses and will trade-off concurrent objectives (price, consumption or ecological footprint).

 

Estatuto: 
Participant entity
Financed: 
Yes
Entidades: 
Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia
Keywords: 

Energy efficiency, School buildings, Sustainability behavior, Smart metering

Portugal is presently facing major energy challenges such as the provision of long-term energy supply within a context of high dependency from energy imports or the need for an environmentally-sound energy system, within the context of the Kyoto Protocol. Dealing with these challenges is a matter of complexity, as conflicting interests arise when pursuing such a multi-variable optimization. It is fully acknowledged by governmental bodies worldwide that dealing with such complexity must necessarily pass by efforts to develop alternative energy systems that address demand locally, incorporate renewable and other domestic energy sources with emerging technologies of demand side management and contribute to sustainable energy consumption patterns, namely in the domestic sector.

The buildings sector represents 60% of the total electricity consumption in Portugal. Also in the EU, the sector's consumption has increased significantly, over the last years, in response to increasing level of comfort and to the proliferation of appliances. The EU's Green Paper on energy efficiency estimates that the current level of energy consumption could be reduced up to 20%, compared with baseline projections, by 2020. Energy efficiency is clearly mentioned as part of the portfolio of solutions. It is an urgent interdisciplinary problem to address energy efficiency and rationalize energy use in its technical and behavioral dimensions. Such process needs immediate, medium and long-term strategic approaches. An innovative approach as presented, tackles the need for long term solutions while addressing in detail short to medium term energy efficiency interventions within the school community. In parallel, the communication with the school population and its reflection on changes in energy consumption by the families involved, derived from a change in habits or technological implementations by the residents, are yet another essential way to address this challenge at a medium to long-term scale. Therefore, it is the scope of the proposal to address the school, the residences and the connection between both.

The interdisciplinary nature of the team assembled is thus explained by the complexity and diversity of the problem at hands that underlies a significant social dimension usually underestimated in energy studies, however totally justifiable on a sustainable systems approach. The case study develops about the Net Zero Energy School concept, giving emphasis to the impact of the energy efficiency actions implemented in the school and its expected effects in behavioral changes at residential level.

The project will start with a structural, behavioral and energy audits to the school which will be combined with an assessment of potential savings. Action plan will be prioritized according to the interventions potential contribution to decrease energy consumption of the school to a sustainable goal, which will incorporate the micro-generation technical-economical potential.

A key component to the study will be the communication strategy. The plan will convey the information about the impact of each intervention on energy consumption, to the school community, either through a web portal supporting the project, or using displays strategically placed in the school. Personalized information will be transmitted to registered users At residential level, the experiment is oriented to monitor the families' response in relation to the energy efficiency action plan presented in school. Selected houses may follow their consumption on the project's web site and assess a behavioral reinforcement scheme which will provide an analysis of consumption and environment impact assessment. A smaller experiment will consider the ongoing transformation of the electricity grids into "smart" grids which will support a number of interactions between electricity producers and consumers, such as close to real time feedback, distributed renewable generation, time-varying electricity pricing tariffs and the development of personalized energy services.

The experiment will involve a small number of families, where the level of comfort and operation will be declared by the residents, while an automated response of the support system will maximize energy efficiency in houses and will trade-off concurrent objectives (price, consumption or ecological footprint).

 

Objectivos: 
Present research proposal builds a reference case-study, with an international scope, about energy efficiency strategies and sustainability goals at schools and its impact on energy consumption by local communities. The study will foster alternative sustainable living scenarios, and will develop comprehensive guidelines about the key strategic aspects to promote patterns of behavioural change, building upon the strengths of recent National and Community Policies. It will incorporate a school and its families, as well as the relation between them, and will focus on two research vectors: behavioral and technological.At residential level, the study will set a reference about the willingness to accept a level of explicitly informed energy home automation by the families involved, as well as the dynamic interaction level of the residents. This information is instrumental for the design of larger scale experiments focusing on the refinement of energy services.
Observações: 
<p>\coord\ Coordenador Geral do Projecto, IST<br />\2\ Coordenadora do projecto no ICS</p>
State of the art: 
The global contribution of buildings towards energy consumption, both residential and commercial, has steadily increased reaching figures between 20% and 40% final energy in developed countries, and has generally exceeded the other major sectors: industrial and transportation (DGGE, 2008). A rising demand for building services and for higher comfort levels combined with the increase in time spent inside buildings suggests that this upward trend in energy demand will continue in the future. EIA foresees that energy consumption in the built environment will grow by 34% in the next 20 years. Forecasts predict that in 2030, energy consumption in buildings attributed to residential and services sectors will be respectively 67% and 33% (Lombard et al., 2008). As a consequence, energy efficiency in buildings is today seen as a prime concern globally. The European Commission has estimated for buildings, a potential of cost-effective savings around 30% to achieve the global 20% energy-savings by 2020 (US-DOE, 2006). This is materialized through instruments such as the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and National Energy Efficiency Action Plans (EC, 2006). The EPBD directive created the National Energy Certification System, includes building labelling according to relative Energy Performance, and will be applied to all new buildings and some existing buildings. In the Portuguese case, existing service buildings with more than 1000m2, buildings under transaction (sold or rented) and buildings under rehabilitation (where costs equal over 25% of building value), are covered by this certification system. Inline with these regulations, Portugal has also recently approved its own Action Plan with measures such as "Renew House & Office" or "Office Plus", where reduced taxes and subsidies promote efficient construction and retrofit (such as window replacements and insulation, among other options). The governmental Programme to the Modernization of the High School Built Environment (RCM n&ordm; 1/2007), aims at (re-) establish physical and functional efficacy of schools through the mplementation of several measures. Among the defined priorities in this programme relevance may be given to: physical rehabilitation of the school buildings; creation of indoor environment conditions adequate to teaching and learning activities; opening the school to the community, thus becoming a strategic tool for the dissemination of knowledge; and the creation in the short/medium term of energy self-sufficiency through the use of renewable energies. According to recent School Census 06/07 (GIASE, 2006) preschool, basic and secondary school population totalizes about 1 770 000 students (of which 356 586 in second grade), more than 180.000 teachers (88 000 in second grade) and the number of school buildings is more than 13 500. High school buildings present diversified constructive and functional typologies, namely (RCM n.1/2007): " massive buildings since the end of the nineteenth century up to the end of the 20's" buildings of somehow construction (e.g. reinforced concrete and infilling hollow brick walls) in the 40's and 60's; since the beginning of the 60's the need to respond to a continuous increase in school population drove to standard type-projects often recurring to prefabricated solutions, namely with lightweight systems. In general many of these school buildings need more or less significant rehabilitation interventions, including dealing with technological and functional issues. Thermal and energy performance of school buildings is determined by their corresponding characteristics, either constructive (walls, roofs, glazing) or lighting, heating/cooling (not frequent and often inefficient), small appliances and conventional sanitary hot water equipment. Building thermal requirements have evolved along time (LNEC, 1979: DL 40/1990, 80/2006). This scenario is reflected in energy consumption (or economical incapacity to afford it) and consequent indoor environment conditions. It is commonly recognized and accepted that the success of energy efficiency initiatives requires the systematic development of supporting research activities and the involvement of the school community. Energy conservation is thus, a significant way to reduce energy consumption. Given the social economic diversity, people, and specifically residents, often attain different levels of knowledge about energy savings, different attitudes and different energy using / saving practices (Wood et al. 2003). The analysis of an expanded set of studies in western countries highlights the relevance of having specific strategies for different social groups to use and conserve energy. The main factor of social differentiation in the use of energy is connected to family income, especially at two levels: affluent families may invest in energy savings (Wallenborn et al, 2006; Boardman e Darby, 2000; Ramsay and Pett, 2003; Anker-Nilsen, 2003), whereas in lower income families energy consumption is kept at a minimum, though it is a significant portion of the overall budget (Bartiaux et al, 2006). According to Uitdenbogerd et al (2007), other influential factors besides income are knowledge about choices and costs, comfort, visibility and status, possibility of choice, age, type of household and social comparison. More educated citizens have greater knowledge of energy issues (Wallenborn et al, 2006; O'Connor, 2002) and show greater concern with saving energy (Prada et al, 2007). However, the link between knowledge and conservation practices is not linear (Bartiaux et al, 2006; Goldblatt, 2003), considering that other structural factors may delay change. If some behaviours are solely a matter of free individual micro-decisions in a family context, others are subject to macro-constraints (objective conditions, such as the existence of a public transport network, for example) acting on individual consumption behaviours (Owens, 2006; Bartiaux et al, 2006, Goldblatt, 2003; CSE, 2004). In the studies under analysis, certain factors are identified as potential barriers to behaviour change: need to modify daily routines; difficult access to equipment; high cost of sustainable or more efficient options; concern with income; lack of trust in public bodies, governments and companies; market pressures; social norms regarding consumption (Bartiaux et al, 2006; SDC, 2006). Possible factors in behaviour change are different kind of incentives (Uitdenbogerd et al, 2007). Also the fact that consumers may easily identify products and equipments which will help them to save money and energy, directly or indirectly (Boardman, 2004; Linden et al, 2006; Wallenborn et al, 2006) the promotion of the idea that each individual's behaviour is important and others are making a similar effort (SDC, 2006; Bartiaux et al, 2006); the transmission of detailed information adapted to diverse social contexts (Uitdenbogerd et al, 2007; Linden et al, 2006; Bartiaux et al, 2006; Fawcett et al, 2000; Darby, 2006). Additionally, researchers argue in favour of immediate feedback following a positive action attempting to save energy (Stern, 1992). Informing consumers about energy savings measured by dedicated equipment gives them a real sense of their consumption, equivalent emissions or financial impact. The impact of feedback on changing habits about energy use has been widely discussed in the literature (Wilson et al. 2007; Linden et al, 2006; Darby, 2006; Boardman et al, 2000; Jensen, 2003). Some experiments claim an average reduction of 18% in electricity use following a daily feedback about consumption (Hayes et al. 1977). As weather-dependent electricity sources attain a larger percentage of the electricity generation portfolio, at both the utility and at home level, the variability of the state of the electricity system from the homeowner's perspective will significantly increase over any given day. Similarly, with the ongoing introduction of smart meters into the electricity infrastructure for all types of customers, the expectation is that time-varying pricing tariffs for electricity will play a role in signaling to all consumers when electricity generation is cheaper or more expensive, which proves to be too complex for the user's daily decisions (Wilson et al. 2007, Faruqui, 2008). Decision support systems and home automation can be relevant instruments in handling complex concurrent objectives. However, given that the introduction of new technology inside the home may also potentiate new energy-intensive practices (Wilhite, 2007), monitoring will be necessary. Studies appear to recommend long-term approaches combining several interventions and ways to reach the population (SDC, 2006). Children feedback to their parents suggests they can act as energy-efficiency ambassadors in their own homes (Lindseth, 2003; CSE, 2004). Schools are seen as among the best places to invest in information and education, with the guarantee of multiplying effects. Young people, by their potential in the present (as home advisers) and the future (as deciders in many different areas) should be one of the target groups (SCE, 2004). As regards the Portuguese reality, a diagnosis of the National Plan of Action for Energy Efficiency (MEI, 2007) revealed an almost absence of social sciences studies on the subject of energy, thus showing the imperative of making them a part of the necessary change in behaviour.
Parceria: 
International networ
Susana Fonseca
Augusta Correia
Coordenador 
Start Date: 
01/07/2009
End Date: 
30/06/2012
Duração: 
42 meses
Closed