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SmartBuilt4EU white paper (Topic 2B): "Optimised building costs"

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Go-to-market Gaps collectively identified regarding "Optimised building costs" (Abstract)

The SmartBuilt4EU project has set up four task forces investigating issues related to smart buildings: their objective is to identify the remaining challenges and barriers to smart building deployment, and the associated research and innovation gaps that should be addressed in the near future. Task force 2 focuses on the optimal integration and use of smart solutions to allow an efficient building operation.

The topic investigated in the year 2022 addressed Optimised building costs focusing on the interoperability requirements to ensure a seamless operation, as well as the optimisation in terms of building costs and reduction of environmental impacts, over the full life cycle. 


The way we live in the built environment needs to become more sustainable. Going from the current renovation rate below 1% to an average 3% is a major challenge that will require technology cost drops, flexible and performance-based products and services, as well as new financing schemes. Digitalisation is a steppingstone to achieve the required industrialisation of the sector.


For instance, it is estimated that fullscale digitalisation in non-residential construction would lead to annual global cost savings of 13% to 21% in the engineering and construction phases and 10% to 17% in the operations phase1 . These gains will be enabled by the full deployment of Building Information Management (BIM) and, in the longer term, (dynamic) Digital Twins, by automation and robotics; and more generally by data-based tools and services which make use of the latest advances in IoT and embedded sensors, cloud computing, massive processing of Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence.


However, these smart solutions bring additional capital and operating costs: building costs must therefore be optimised with a life cycle approach, i.e. from planning to end-of-life.


This White paper focuses therefore on the following questions:


  • How do we define optimisation and from which perspective? (i.e. building user, building operator, ‘society’ as a whole?) 
  • What are the digital tools and solutions available today to lower the overall building costs and what are their respective impacts?
  • How can Energy Performance Certificates, Digital Building Logbooks, Building Renovation Passports and certifications contribute to the optimisation of life cycle costs?
  • How should this knowledge be transferred to the many actors of the value chain, to make sure that there is a paradigm shift from targeting the lowest CAPEX to optimising the life cycle costs?

In its first part, this paper provides a state of the art regarding the following issues, specific attention being paid to EC-funded projects:


  • Life cycle approach to optimise costs (scope and scale of the assessment, optimisation approach)
  • Digital tools and solutions (including digital twins, BIM, IoT, 3D scanning, BEMS, BACS, integration of machine learning and AI)
  • Certificates and tools pushed by regulation such as Energy Performance Certificates, digital building logbooks, building renovation passports

A brainstorming process enabled to identify some key barriers and drivers regarding optimised building costs. Based on the State of the Art and the barriers and drivers, a number of research and innovation gaps were identified including R&D, Demo, regulation & legal framework, certification & standardisation and scaling up & industrialisation. 


The gaps will feed the elaboration of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda on smart building, together with some recommendations targeting policymakers.


Download SB4EU white paper: Task Force 2: Efficient Building Operation "Topic B: Optimised building costs".


During September 2021 and November 2022, SmartBuilt4EU published 12 White Papers on different topics related to Smart Buildings, from the interaction with the grid to user acceptance, including smart financing. All the White Papers can be accessed here:  and on Open AIRE.