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OVERVIEW | Activities of the IEA Energy in Buildings and Communities Programme

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Mapping from Annexes to the Strategic Plan themes for the IEA Energy in Buildings and Communities Programme. Source: Rolf Moser

by Peter Wouters (INIVE eeig), Malcolm Orme (IEA-EBC)


The aim of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Energy in Buildings and Communities (EBC) Technology Collaboration Programme is to carry out scientifically based research in the field of energy use of buildings and communities. The outcomes of EBC’s international collaborative research projects address the determining factors for energy use in that domain: technological aspects, policy measures, and occupant behaviour.


On the basis of its current Strategic Plan, EBC has progressively evolved over the past few years. This is reflected in the steadily increasing number of EBC’s Research & Development (R&D) projects, known as Annexes, which form the basis of the Programme. While there were around 10 ongoing Annexes in 2010, by 2016 this had increased to 16.


An overview of all its activities can be found in the 2016 Annual report.


Information on new IEA EBC projects


A total of 4 projects (Annexes 72 to 75) are in their so-called one-year preparation phase, meaning that the work programme and the task allocations are under development, with a further project (Annex 71) recently approved to start its working phase.


Annex 71: Building energy performance assessment based on in situ measurements


This project is running from 2016 until 2021. The project’s objectives are:


  • the development of methodologies to characterise and assess the actual as-built energy performance of buildings;
  • disaggregation of building energy use into its three main influencing factors: building fabric, systems and occupant behaviour;
  • investigate how on-site assessment methods can be applied for quality assurance. 

For more information, contact the Operating Agent Prof. Staf Roels.


Annex 72: Assessment life cycle related environmental impacts caused by buildings


This project is also running from 2016 until 2021. It is advancing the research already conducted within EBC Annexes 56 and 57. In support of the principal aim of reducing the primary energy demand, greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts along the entire life cycle of buildings (construction, use and end of life), the project is working towards the following objectives:


  • establish a common methodology guideline to assess the life cycle based primary energy demand, greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impacts caused by buildings;
  • establish methods for the development of specific environmental benchmarks for different types of buildings;
  • derive regionally differentiated guidelines and tools for building design and planning such as  Building Information Modeling (BIM) for architects and planners;
  • establish a number of case studies, focused to allow for answering some of the research issues and for deriving empirical benchmarks;
  • develop national or regional databases with regionally differentiated life cycle assessment data tailored to the construction sector;
  • share experiences with the setup and update of such databases.

For more information, contact the Operating Agent Rolf Frischknecht.


Annex 73: Towards net zero energy resilient public buildings


This project is running from 2017 until 2022.  The project is working towards the following objectives:


  • establishing energy goals and a database of energy utilisation indices for representative buildings and building communities;
  • developing a catalogue of building models, including mixed-use buildings, applicable to national public and private communities and military garrisons;
  • collecting and analysing best practices of energy master planning with the goal of establishing a step-by-step energy master planning process to be executed using the computerised tool;
  • collecting information on the architecture of advanced central energy systems, analysing their applicability to different building communities’ needs and constraints, and evaluating these scenarios from the technical, economic, financial, and business perspective;
  • dissemination and training in participating countries designed for decision makers, planners, building owners, architects, engineers, and energy managers of public-owned and operated communities.

For more information, contact the operating agents Dr.Alexander Zhivov or Rüdiger Lohse.


Annex 74: Energy Endeavour


This project is running from 2017 until 2021. The project is intended to serve as a know-how platform linking the experiences worldwide and working towards further improvement of existing competitions, as well as developing new competition formats. The project objectives are to:


  • establish an international collaboration platform for competitions in the building sector;
  • strengthen the IEA dissemination activities concerning buildings-related R&D;
  • increase the role of competitions as test ground for innovative methods, tools and systems with a strong link to the scientific community and academia;
  • raise public visibility of energy policy towards climate neutral habitation; and
  • provide case studies on the building and district level.

For more information, contact the Co-Operating Agents Prof. Karsten Voss or Prof. Peter Russell.


Annex 75: Cost-effective building renovation at district level combining energy efficiency and renewables


This project is running from 2017 until 2021. Its general objectives are to:


  • investigate cost-effective strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy use in buildings in cities at district level, combining both energy efficiency measures and renewable energy measures;
  • provide guidance to policy makers, companies working in the field of the energy transition, as well as to building owners, on how to cost-effectively transforming existing urban districts into low-energy and low-emission districts.

The specific objectives are to:


  • give an overview on various existing and emerging  technology options and on how challenges occurring in an urban context can be overcome;
  • develop a methodology to identify cost-effective strategies for renovating urban districts, supporting decision makers in the evaluation of the efficiency, impacts, cost-effectiveness and acceptance of various solutions;
  • illustrate such strategies in selected case studies and gather best-practice examples;
  • give recommendations to policy makers and energy related companies on how they can influence the uptake of cost-effective combinations of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy measures in building renovation at district level.

For more information, contact the Operating Agent Dr. Manuela Almeida.


To learn more about running projects


The following further projects are already in full operation in their working phase:


  • Building Energy Epidemiology: Analysis of Real Building Energy Use at Scale (Annex 70)
  • Strategy and Practice of Adaptive Thermal Comfort in Low Energy Buildings (Annex 69)
  • Indoor Air Quality Design and Control in Low Energy Residential Buildings (Annex 68)
  • Energy Flexible Buildings (Annex 67)
  • Definition and Simulation of Occupant Behaviour in Buildings (Annex 66)
  • Long-Term Performance of Super-Insulating Materials in Building Components AND Systems (Annex 65)
  • LowEx Communities – Optimised Performance of Energy Supply Systems with Exergy Principles (Annex 64)
  • Implementation of Energy Strategies in Communities (Annex 63)
  • Ventilative Cooling (Annex 62)
  • Air Infiltration and Ventilation Centre- AIVC (Annex 5)

Recently completed projects


Annex 57 – Evaluation of embodied energy and carbon dioxide equivalent emissions for building construction


The following reports have been published:


Annex 58 – Reliable building energy performance characterisation based on full scale dynamic measurements


The following reports have been published: