SMARTSPACES demonstrates energy savings

The 3 year European Commission funded project SMARTSPACES – Saving ICT in Europe's Public Buildings officially came to an end ( www.SMARTSPACES.eu) in December and has demonstrated how ICT can be exploited to achieve energy savings in public buildings using the Council House and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery as exemplars. The findings from this project will be used to support the city council in delivering its energy savings commitments.

The project set out to enable public authorities in Europe to significantly to improve their management of energy in the buildings they occupy, particularly as buildings owned and/or managed by the public sector make up more than 10% of the overall EU building stock and around 40% of the construction turnover is public.

Birmingham selected three Grade II Listed buildings for piloting the SMARTSPACES Energy Management and Energy Decision Support services, the Council House, the Council House Extension at Margaret Street and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery which all represent big buildings with high resource consumptions that offered many challenges regarding the existing installations, number of rooms, building age and the various user groups within.

Historically, Birmingham received data in the form of bill statements about actual gas and electricity consumption and although there is a building energy management system (BEMS) in place, the delivery and display of real-time data was insufficient. Birmingham has improved the information available via www.EnergySmartBirmingham.com, making it easy to request and display, is accessible through various channels (e.g. web-based and mobile devices) with half-hourly automated meter readings integrated into the BEMS. By collecting real-time energy consumption data we are able to generate visualisations of consumption patterns for the public, staff members working in the buildings and building professionals, which is also published as public open data as part of Birmingham's open data drive.

As a result, the city is now able to explore how the newly generated data can be integrated into the existing building management system, particularly in relation to load and lighting management. The SMARTSPACES initiative has also proved key to affecting behavioural change and in turn reduced energy consumption in the three pilot sites and an additional 40 Birmingham City Council buildings have been added to the service.

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