In and interview for BUILD UP – the European portal for energy efficiency and renewable energy in buildings, TIMEPAC coordinator Leandro Madrazo explains how Building assessment is no longer a one-off task, but an on-going process that continues throughout the building’s lifetime.
Since 1999, Professor Madrazo Agudin has led the ARC Engineering and Architecture research group at La Salle School of Architecture. He received his degree in Architecture from the UPC in 1984 and was a Fulbright scholar in the Master of Architecture programme at Harvard University and the University of California in Los Angeles, where he obtained his Master’s in 1988. From 1990 to 1999 he was teaching and researching at the Department of Architecture of the ETH Zürich, where he obtained his PhD in 1995. With the ARC research group, he has been involved in the development of energy information systems for the last fifteen years. This work has been conducted through various European projects, such as SEMANCO, as well as national research projects such as ENERHAT/ENERPAT. Currently, he is serving as the coordinator for the TIMEPAC and RETABIT projects.
LinkedIn profile: TIMEPAC
BUILD UP (BUP): Can you briefly describe the main steps for implementing energy performance assessment of buildings?
LEANDRO MADRAZO AGUDIN (LMA): The EPBD proposal adopted by the EU Parliament on March 2023 states that ‘the whole life-cycle performance of buildings should be taken into account not only in new construction, but also in renovation’. This means that building assessment is no longer a one-off task but an on-going process that continues throughout the building’s lifetime. Consequently, we are shifting from the concept of a one-off certificate to a continuous assessment of the building energy performance.
BUP: How does the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) regulate energy performance assessment and certification of buildings?
LMA: According to the latest EPBD, the purpose of building assessment extends beyond the sole goal of reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions. Instead, it recognises that ‘the improvement of energy efficiency and energy performance of buildings through deep renovation has enormous social, economic, and environmental benefits’. This recent EPDB update has been aligned with the broader review of the EU policy ecosystem driven by the Renovation Wave initiative which includes the revision of climate and energy legislation within the Fit for 55 package as well as the New European Bauhaus programme.
In line with this overarching context, the latest EPBD has embraced a holistic approach to building performance that transcends the narrow focus on energy and expands its scope beyond individual buildings. It now regards buildings as integral components of the built environment, recognising their far-reaching social, economic, and environmental impacts. This approach stands in contrast to the energy performance certificate introduced in the 2010 EPBD, which had a more limited purpose of providing prospective buyers or tenants with ’correct information about the energy performance of the building and practical advice on improving such performance’. Consequently, the concept of building energy performance certification, as understood in earlier EPBDs, has evolved into a more comprehensive notion of building assessment. Furthermore, it prompts us to question whether an energy performance certificate, as initially conceived in the early directives, remains relevant in this expanded framework.
“The latest EPBD has embraced a holistic approach to building performance that transcends the narrow focus on energy and expands its scope beyond individual buildings”
BUP: Can you name some advantages and disadvantages of implementing the Energy Performance Certification (EPC) in the European building stock?
LMA: The latest EPBD clearly acknowledges that for the EPC to become an effective tool for analysing and enhancing the performance of buildings, there is a need to enhance the quality of the information it contains. It is also noteworthy that the EPBD recognises the significance of basing the energy performance assessment on either calculated estimates or actual metered energy usage. This approach aims to capture the typical energy consumption for various building functions, including space heating, cooling, domestic hot water, ventilation, built-in lighting, and other technical building systems. However, to ensure that data exchange is relevant for EPC generation, it is crucial to prioritise the use of measured data whenever possible. This implies the implementation of methods and tools to collect real-time data from buildings continuously. While this is relatively feasible for non-residential buildings, it presents particular challenges when applied to the housing stock.
BUP: What is the TIMEPAC project´s main goal, and how does it aim to transform the EPC process?
LMA: TIMEPAC’s vision is fully aligned with the approach to EPC introduced in the latest revision of the EPBD. Our primary objective is to play a pivotal role in enhancing energy certification processes, shifting from a single, static certification model to more comprehensive and dynamic approaches that consider:
a) The comprehensive management of data generated throughout the energy performance certification process, covering its entire lifecycle from generation and storage to analysis and utilisation, and encompassing all the building lifecycle, from design to construction and operation;
b) Treating buildings as integral components of a broader built environment, recognising their interconnectedness with energy distribution and transportation networks, and
c) Viewing buildings as dynamic entities that change over time. We firmly believe that establishing a seamless flow of energy-related data over a building’s lifecycle is essential for improving its overall performance over time. Access to this data, which is stored in BIM models and dispersed databases, is particularly crucial for the efficient implementation and monitoring of building renovation plans.
“We firmly believe that establishing a seamless flow of energy-related data over a building’s lifecycle is essential for improving its overall performance over time”
BUP: How is the TIMEPAC project’s approach to EPC linked to digitalisation?
LMA: TIMEPAC aims to demonstrate the viability of integrating EPC databases with other data sources to enhance the effectiveness and reliability of building performance certification. The combination of data from different sources and domains enables a shift from the narrow focus on energy performance to a more comprehensive consideration of building performance, encompassing social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainability. To achieve this goal, we are developing methods and tools to improve current certification practices across five Transversal Deployment Scenarios:
a) Generating enhanced EPCs with BIM data
b) Enhancing EPC schemas through operational data integration
c) Creating Building Renovation Passports
d) Large-scale statistical analysis of EPC databases from data repositories
e) Integrating Smart Readiness Indicators and sustainability indicators in EPC.
The results of these forward-looking scenarios will be verified with stakeholders in six European countries: Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Italy, Slovenia, and Spain. Furthermore, they will be utilised to enhance the training of professionals engaged in certification processes through the TIMEPAC Academy.
BUP: In which ways will the results of the project be exploited? How do you think they will be useful for professionals across Europe?
LMA: The TIMEPAC Academy will play a crucial role in further developing and leveraging the innovative EPC enhancement methods, tools, and training materials developed in the project. To maximise the impact of the TIMEPAC project’s outcomes, a potential strategy involves integrating these outcomes into existing professional courses. Collaborating with educational institutions and training providers could facilitate the seamless incorporation of TIMEPAC content into their curricula. This would enable professionals attending these courses to draw upon the knowledge and expertise cultivated by TIMEPAC. Moreover, establishing connections with mandatory updating training programmes for professionals will be crucial to ensure that TIMEPAC advancements reach practitioners who require ongoing training to maintain their proficiency.