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Creating sustainable buildings and infrastructure

Our new technology for intelligent management of energy and resources has been used worldwide, including by Schneider Electric, Welsh Water, Costain, and Highways England.

Many new buildings use twice as much energy and have double the carbon emissions as predicted. Decarbonising the built environment and reducing this energy performance gap, with its serious financial and environmental implications, requires a complex set of factors to be understood and modelled for each use case.

The School of Engineering has developed methods to reduce the performance gap, leading to changes in practice, improved efficiency of energy usage, and increased profits. Cardiff innovations have been applied across the built environment and adopted by our industrial partners, including Schneider Electric, Welsh Water, Costain, and Highways England.

Our research has also impacted policy and practice by supporting the widespread adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM) by organisations across the construction sector long before mandatory adoption.

Closing the energy performance gap

As part of the SPORTE2 project, Research at the BRE Trust-funded Centre for Sustainable Engineering, led by Professor Yacine Rezgui, developed a BIM-oriented methodology that produced a reliable, flexible, and near real-time solution to complex energy optimisation problems.

The Cardiff method produced a substantial reduction in energy wastage and highlighted the need for interdisciplinary thinking and reliable, up-to-date datasets when implementing this optimisation method on an actual building.

The team also developed a mapping process to determine the most sensitive factors to reduce the energy gap for any given building, with near real-time capability. The novel BIM-based method using deep learning generated an average 25% energy reduction while continuing to meet occupants' comfort conditions.

Modern office buildings

Creating cloud-based energy optimisation with Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric incorporated our research into their Internet-of-Things-driven integrated hardware and software architecture called EcoStruxure. Since the commercial release, Ecostruxure has been extensively deployed worldwide, generating financial savings and economic benefit for a wide range of clients through reduced energy wastage.

Clients who have benefitted from our research inputs in the Ecostruxure product include Hilton Hotels (worldwide), Melbourne Cricket Ground, Huashan Hospital, Marriot Hotels, Shanghai Metro, and Shedd Aquarium.

Developing a smart water meter strategy with Welsh Water

Our research was expanded to explore unusual applications of the BIM methodologies in the water utility field. Cardiff collaborated with Welsh Water as part of the WISDOM project to develop an information and communication technology platform that allows water companies to better manage data from their water networks.

The research showed that our BIM methodology can greatly reduce the network operational cost. It has also helped Welsh Water to shape future strategies in adopting smart technology for household metering.

Encouraging BIM adoption with Costain

Costain were industry partners on the collaborative Clouds-for-Coordination project, led by Cardiff University, which developed a system that allowed multiple partners within a construction project to effectively share BIM information. This research enabled Costain to work towards the next generation of BIM, characterised by greater collaboration within a single shared project view with digitisation is embedded in the lifecycle of a project.

The expertise developed through our research has also led to a number of integrations with industry and government which have impacted broader areas of policy within the UK. This includes Cardiff University’s work leading the D-COM network which supported further digitalisation of technical standards in construction.

Costain is now working towards the next generation of BIM, known as Level 3, characterised by greater openness and collaboration within a single shared project view, and in which digitisation is embedded within the lifecycle of a project.