Enabling technologies to support energy transition in social housing
Jacopo Gaspari, Dipartimento di Architettura, Università di Bologna
Ernesto Antonini, Dipartimento di Architettura, Università di Bologna
Lia Marchi, Dipartimento di Architettura, Università di Bologna
A fast and effective energy transition is a crucial pillar to cope with the cur-rent and future climate change and environmental crisis. The European Union (EU) acknowledges technology as a powerful means to achieve this milestone at multiple levels (European Commission, 2019), particularly with reference to the construction sector, which is one of the most relevant and challenging assets within the process. On the one hand, buildings globally account for over one-third of total fi-nal energy consumption, and for about 37% of world energy-related CO2emissions, if indirect emissions from electricity, heat and materials used in buildings are included (IEA, 2021a, 2021b). On the other, they are estimat-ed to own one of the largest energy and carbon reduction potential due to their features and flexible demand (Levine et al., 2007; McKinsey & Company, 2009). Despite the recent investments to improve building energy efficiency worldwide, the International Environ-mental Agency estimates that the ex-pense has to triple by 2030 to boost the energy retrofit rate at about 2.5% per year and reach the Net Zero Emissions Scenario by 2050 (IEA, 2021a).Therefore, according to the EU vision and, especially, with the Next Gen-eration EU plan, the Italian Recovery Plan (PNRR) allocates to the Green revolution and energy transition the highest funds among the six missions (Presidenza del Consiglio dei Minis-tri, 2021). On a total amount of 191.5 billion euros, M2 is assigned over one third of the funding. As reported in table 1, M2 is split into four sub-mis-sions, where notably energy efficiency measures and the renovation of the built environment receive over 25% of the mission funding, to be coupled with the massive effort on renewable energy that also deals with energy sup-ply for constructions. The so-called Superbonus certainly represents a booster to this end, con-sisting in a tax deduction of 110% of the expenses for energy retrofit, includ-ing installation of photovoltaic systems and energy storage in buildings (D.L. 34/2020). According to ENEA, on May, 31 2022, 172,450 retrofits were ongoing in Italy (ENEA, 2022), 15% of which was undertaken in multi-family buildings where several procedural issues have emerged, mainly dealing with administrative and decisional processes, limiting the speed and the quality of the stock renovation. Several methods, algorithms and software are available in the market to support the simulation and assess-ment of retrofit actions on building performance, but their application is often time consuming and not con-venient for building owners, especially for those managing large assets. The massive call for energy retrofit would instead benefit from predictive speedy tools to support decision-making at a large scale, such as in the social hous-ing stock, aiming at targeting the in-vestments to the more promising in-terventions (Dall’O’ et al., 2020; Hous-ing Europe, 2021).Energy transition in social housing Italian Social Housing (SH), which consists of about 900,000 dwellings that account for approximately 3.8% of the national residential stock (Cen-sis, 2008), is a complex asset to man-age, where energy consumption is a relevant issue. Because it is largely insufficient to meet the current de-mand (Federcasa, 2019), SH manag-ers are driven to handle their assets as efficiently as possible by making dwellings fully useable through inten-sive maintenance and retrofit, without having enough resources to launch the construction of new buildings to sig-nificantly expand the stock.Most of the existing asset demand over 150 kWh/m2y, thus highly contributing to worsen the environmental burden as well as the economic status of already vulnerable users in the specific case of SH (ENEA, 2016; Aranda et al., 2017). This requires a massive energy reno-vation campaign of the social hous-ing stock, which meets with extensive consensus, but there is a persistent shortage of resources devoted to the purpose. In addition, a general lack of knowledge about the asset status makes prioritisation of interventions particu-larly challenging (Melis, 2010; Sirombo et al., 2017; Tzortzopoulos et al., 2019). Within this general framework, the Department of Architecture of the Uni-versity of Bologna and ACER Bologna (Social Housing Agency of Bologna) started a cooperation to explore the application of innovative solutions for energy efficiency of complex stock like the one managed by ACER. InSPiRE project (Integrated technologies for Smart buildings and PREdictive main-tenance), funded under the umbrella of POR FESR 2014–2020, developed a predictive tool capable of considering and comparing the performance levels that possible retrofitting actions can reach, depending on building features, intervention costs and timing, and resource availability. This is aimed to allow managers to effectively plan the use of financial, economic and materi-al resources. The developed methodology is a system designed to support the decision-making process by providing data sets and organised comparable information concerning the managed stock, with the addition of impact and effectiveness indicators to be used as benchmark levels obtained by actions previously implemented across the same stock.
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