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Digitalization Tools for Energy-Efficient Renovations



Digital transformation in the built environment is a fact that will shape the industry, increasing its efficiency and improving its quality. However, there are many challenges still facing the industry to complete this transformation. Under this theme, during the Sustainable Places 2020 virtual conference on 28th October 2020, nine EU-funded research projects gathered in a workshop to showcase their projects and demonstrate some of the innovative solutions developed within their projects. This post-workshop report gives brief information about the participant projects. It outlines the main topics covered in the presentations and, moreover, highlights the main innovative tools presented in this workshop. The representatives agreed that strengthening the synergy among different their projects would be a benefit for all.
Proceedings 2020, 65, 9; doi:10.3390/proceedings2020065009
Digitalization Tools for Energy-Efficient
Mohamed Elagiry 1, Antoine Dugue 2, Andrea Costa 1 and Regis Decorme 3,*
1 R2M Solution Srl, 27100 Pavia, Italy; (M.E.); (A.C.)
2 Nobatek Inef4, 33400 Talence, France;
3 R2M Solution SAS, 06330 Roquefort les Pins, France
* Correspondence:
Presented at the Sustainable Places 2020, Online, 28–30 October 2020; Available online:
Published: 29 December 2020
Abstract: Digital transformation in the built environment is a fact that will shape the industry,
increasing its efficiency and improving its quality. However, there are many challenges still facing
the industry to complete this transformation. Under this theme, during the Sustainable Places 2020
virtual conference on 28th October 2020, nine EU-funded research projects gathered in a workshop
to showcase their projects and demonstrate some of the innovative solutions developed within
their projects. This post-workshop report gives brief information about the participant projects. It
outlines the main topics covered in the presentations and, moreover, highlights the main
innovative tools presented in this workshop. The representatives agreed that strengthening the
synergy among different their projects would be a benefit for all.
Keywords: digitalisation; BIM; IFC; energy; renovation; digital twin
1. Introduction
Digital transformation is taking place at a slow pace in the European construction industry,
which means a huge gap between theoretical digital opportunities and the realities of on-site
construction. On the other hand, most of the EU building stock comprises existing buildings.
Moreover, supporting the renovation interventions is a key challenge, since it may contribute to
collaboration, cost efficiency, and time savings. At the same time, it guarantees process quality
along with all the renovation phases, solving some of the hindrances due to the uncertainty of the
process. Particularly, the use of Building Models allows storing and sharing the information about
the existing building through Building Information Modelling (BIM). This is a crucial point to avoid
uncertainties, since the models are fed and checked by all stakeholders.
This workshop has brought together nine EU-funded projects involving experts from the
industry to present their research projects, highlighting the main challenges and demonstrating
some of the solutions and methodologies used. The workshop was divided into two sections; in the
first section, each project pitched their progress and intermediate achievements. In the second
section, a selection of innovative tools was presented and demonstrated in a real application.
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2. Speakers
Antoine Dugue Nobatek Inef4, France
Asier Mediavilla Tecnalia, Spain
Bruno Daniotti Politecnico Di Milano, Italy
Bruno Fies CSTB, France
Cecilia Bolognesi Politecnico Di Milano, Italy
Eduard Loscos IDP, Spain
Elisabeth OBrien Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland
Fenareti Lampathaki Suite5, Greece
Giorgos Giannakis Hyper Tech, Greece
Larissa De Rosso Architects’ Council of Europe, Belgium
Mikel Borràs IDP, Spain
Mohamed Elagiry R2M Solution, Italy
Otilia Werner-Kytölä Fraunhofer, Germany
Riccardo Viaggi CECE, Belgium
Sebastian Scholze ATB, Germany
Timo Hartmann TU Berlin, Germany
3. Participant Projects
3.1. BIM4Ren
BIM4REN [1] (Building Information Modelling-based tools and technologies for fast and
efficient RENovation of residential buildings) is aiming to develop BIM tools for fast and efficient
energy renovation. That starts from three workflows adapted to the construction sector
segmentation (90% of companies are SMEs) presenting particular technical and organisational
requirements and has adapted the project and consortium to provide adequate and innovative
processes, methodologies, software, and hardware tools as well as BIM developments for each one
of them. The BIM4Ren digital ecosystem will be accessible via a web-based One-Stop Access
Platform, where, depending on each user profile regarding needs and orientation, best practice
examples from a dedicated database and links to the different tools and services (from top grade to
entry level) will be provided on differentiated access schemes underpinned by different business
models. Inspired by the Open Innovation 2.0 paradigm, the project will set up a demonstration
campaign with “pilots as Living Labs” integrating all stakeholders in three cities (Paris, San
Sebastian, and Venice).
3.2. BIM4EEB
BIM4EEB [2] (BIM-based fast toolkit for Efficient rEnovation in Buildings) aims to foster the
renovation industry by developing an attractive and powerful BIM-based toolset that is able to
support designers in the design and planning phase, construction companies to efficiently carry out
the work, and service companies to provide attractive solutions for building retrofitting.
Additionally, public and private owners will be able to use a tool that eases decision making and
asset management thanks to the exploitation of augmented reality and the use of updated digital
logbooks. BIM4EEB will deliver an innovative common BIM management system with linked data
and a set of tools. This toolkit is the basic instrument for increasing semantic interoperability
between software and stakeholders involved along the overall renovation process (design, planning,
construction, performance assessment, and management). End users of the entire renovation process
will actively participate in the development phases ensuring the full matching of project deliveries
with the market expectations and maximising the value of what is produced. In particular, two
public administrations and two general contractor companies will validate the toolset in a social
housing setting and private residential buildings in Italy, Poland, and Finland. Inhabitants will
benefit from the increase of building performances, quality, and comfort.
Proceedings 2020, 4, x FOR PEER REVIEW 3 of 6
BIMSPEED [3] (Harmonised Building Information Speedway for Energy-Efficient Renovation)
aims to enable all stakeholders to adopt BIM to reduce the time of deep renovation projects by at
least 30% by providing them with (1) an affordable BIM cloud platform, (2) a set of interoperable
BIM tools, and (3) standardised procedures for as-built data acquisition, modelling, simulation,
implementation and maintenance of renovation solutions. BIMSPEED relies on a trans-disciplinary
approach comprising (i) process, (ii) ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), and (iii)
social innovation with special attention to the stakeholders as a key success factor for BIM adoption.
The interoperability of a full range of BIM tools for renovation will be accommodated on an
innovative BIM cloud platform, which will be launched and available free of charge for all
stakeholders immediately from the beginning of the BIMSPEED project. BIMSPEED will engineer
the seamless integration and quick installation of building and HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air
conditioning) products for renovation into the existing buildings. Such “plug and play” solutions are
crucial for overall time reduction. BIMSPEED will demonstrate the holistic solution in 12 real
demonstration cases. An EU-wide BIM Competition will be jointly organised by the European
umbrella organisations in all disciplines (architects, HVAC engineers, and construction firms) to
kick off the first market replication in more than 200 BIM-based renovation projects.
ENCORE [4] (ENergy aware BIM Cloud Platform in a COst-effective Building Renovation
Context) aims to increase the share of renovated stock in Europe and worldwide by providing
effective and affordable BIM tools that cover the whole renovation life cycle (from data collection to
project execution, and commissioning/delivery). It will tackle energy efficiency and comfort
parameters, involving all the actors in the process (architecture studios, designers, constructors,
tenants, or public administration), and facilitating information exchange among all the parties. To
achieve this objective, ENCORE proposes the creation of a system that integrates services for data
acquisition from the buildings such as static LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) setups, and
LiDAR or photogrammetry equipment embarked in UAVs. (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Scanning) It
will also allow involving dwellers in the process by providing them with mobile tools to capture
images or other indoors information. It also provides support to architects and designers in the
creation of the 3D models from the acquired data, automatically identifying and classifying the
constructive elements, and allowing them to complete the model with existing BIM resources. They
will be able to modify the model, presenting the energy efficiency gains of different renovation
alternatives, including the impact in the overall budget.
BIMERR [5] (BIM-based holistic tools for Energy-driven Renovation of existing Residences
Building) will design and develop a Renovation 4.0 toolkit that will comprise tools to support
renovation stakeholders throughout the renovation process of existing buildings, from project
conception to delivery. It comprises tools for the automated creation of enhanced building
information models, a renovation decision support system to aid the designer in exploring available
renovation options through the accurate estimation of renovation impact on building performance,
as well as a process management tool that will optimise the design and on-site construction process
towards optimal coordination and minimisation of renovation time and cost. At the heart of the
BIMERR toolkit lies an interoperability framework, which will enforce semantic interoperability
among BIMERR tools as well as with third-party legacy ICT tools to enable seamless BIM creation
and information exchange among AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) stakeholders
to enhance the rapid adoption of BIM in the renovation of the existing EU building stock. The
BIMERR toolkit will be validated and demonstrated in four buildings in three European Member
Proceedings 2020, 4, x FOR PEER REVIEW 4 of 6
3.6. RenoZEB
RenoZEB [6] (Accelerating Energy renovation solution for Zero Energy buildings and
Neighbourhoods) aims to unlock the nZEB renovation market leveraging the gain on property value
through a new systemic approach to retrofitting that will include innovative components, processes,
and decision-making methodologies to guide all value-chain actors in the nZEB (nearly Zero Energy
Building) building renovation process, including integrated solutions with the highest impact in the
revalorization of the building. This will be achieved through the following: (a) development of an
innovative holistic, cost-effective, and fast deep retrofitting methodology fornZEB; (b) supporting
the methodology for nZEB renovation, through ICT tools; (c) development of a cost-effective and
non-intrusive prefabricated multifunctional modular “plug and play” system for the renovation of
buildings, (d) increasing the post-retrofitting property value through the transformation of buildings
into an active energy; (e) nodes through a smart control and monitoring system; (f) new
collaborative multi-value, multi-stakeholder methodologies and decision-making processes for
selecting the best energy-efficient renovation strategy; (g) creation of new drivers of change for the
real estate industry creating fresh post-renovated property value schemes; (h) demonstration to the
market of the replicability of the holistic methodology and new technologies through (i) three virtual
demonstration sites; and (j) boosting the nZEB market through training and awareness of the value
SPHERE [7] (Service Platform to Host and SharE REsidential data) aims to improve and
optimise the buildings’ energy design, construction, performance, and management, reducing
construction costs and their environmental impact while increasing overall energy performance. It
will integrate two planes of research, innovation and improvement: (1) integration of the processes
under the Digital Twin Concept involving not only the design and construction of the building but
including also the manufacturing and the operational phases; (2) an integrated platform that will be
achieved through an underlying ICT system of systems infrastructure based on Platform as a Service
(PaaS) service to allow large-scale data, information and knowledge integration, and
synchronisation, thus allowing better handling and processing. This Digital Twin Concept is a
distributed but coordinated database, including geometrical objects information that forms a unique
synchronised virtual model of the reality. The Digital Twin Concept, platform, and tools will be
tested in four real pilots and finally validated both technically and especially with final social
acceptance to accelerate market uptake.
3.8. BIMzeED
The BIMzeED project [8] focusses on the training needs for the current and future construction
industry with the main purpose to encourage (1) better employability, (2) low-carbon growth, (3)
green and nZEB skills, and (4) increase in youth employment. The challenge of the BIMzeED project
is to overcome skills mismatching and improve employability in the current European construction
market by improving and extending the existing skills of trainers, SMEs (Small and medium-sized
enterprises), site managers, craftworkers, and other experienced operatives.
DIGIPLACE [9] (Digital Platform for Construction in Europe) aims to create a common
ecosystem of innovation, standardisation, and commerce to increase the construction sector’s
productivity and end products’ quality in terms of buildings and infrastructure. It will also
investigate what kind of digital transformation will improve productivity and efficiency. The
project’s results will impact the development and competitiveness of the construction value chain.
Proceedings 2020, 4, x FOR PEER REVIEW 5 of 6
4. Presentations
This section will highlight the main topics covered in each presentation.
4.1. BIM4Ren
Proposed workflow (data collection, data management, data-driven design)
Main barriers: BIM2BEM interoperability, collaborative design, and differentiating the
workflow and tools depending on needs and capacities
Renovation scenario definition
Need for common definition/standardisation
4.2. BIM4EEB
Information requirements for an efficient renovation process
BIM management system and toolkit CDE (Common Data Environment)
BIMSPEED use cases, highway, and the platform
Behavioural digital twin calibration
The BIMSPEED competition
Overall ENCORE concept
BIM creation using point clouds and photogrammetry acquired by UAVs
Overall concept
Preliminary results of the BIMERR toolchain
4.6. RenoZEB Asier Mediavilla
Collaboration platform (workflow, issues, users/roles…)
KPI (Key Performance Indicator) management and scenario comparison (decision support)
Web IFC (Industrial Foundation Class) viewer with visual query/filter support
4.7. SPHERE Eduard Loscos (IDP)
Building Digital Twins methodology: new definitions and roles
BDTE (Building Digital Twin Environment) PaaS architecture, Open API and Ontology
SPHERE Services (BDT Prototype and BDT Instances)
4.8. BIMzeED
Upskilling workforce with an online/blended Learning Unities on BIM and nZEB
How BIM can help to achieve nZEB compliance/Standard
Presentation of the objective of DigiPLACE: reference architecture framework for digital
construction platforms in Europe and strategy roadmap
Environmental performance is one of the underlying objectives and a focus of DigiPLACE
Examples of topics identified in DigiPLACE and related to BIM for renovation and what is
developed in the different projects presented
Proceedings 2020, 4, x FOR PEER REVIEW 6 of 6
5. Innovative Tools
This section will highlight the main innovative tools demonstrated during the workshop.
BIM4Ren LoD lifter tool: A tool to enrich BIM models
BIM4EEB BIMMS tool: A tool for the BIM management system
Interoperability Framework (BIF) tool: A tool consisting of four component (Semantic
modelling—Collection and Enrichment—Query—Provisioning)
BIMzeED E-learning platform: 12 learning units that combine BIM with nZEB and update the
curricula of both blue and white-collar workers/upskill current and prepare the future
RenoZEB Collaboration Platform: RenoZEB Collaboration Platform and Tools for energy
BIMSPEED tools: Performance model calibration, BIM use case database, BIM competition,
machine learning approaches, BIM2BEM approaches, Scan2BIM approaches
SPHERE: DT new roles and Definitions: Digital Twin new roles and definitions for buildings,
open API, and Ontology.
Supplementary Materials: The recording of the workshop is available online at:
Author Contributions: Introduction and chair of the workshop: M.E.; assembly, structure, format and editing
of the paper: M.E. All other co-authors contributed to present the different projects contributing to this
workshop. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
Funding: The projects BIM4Ren, BIM4EEB, BIMSPEED, ENCORE, BIMERR, RenoZEB, SPHERE and
DIGIPLACE have received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation
programme under grant agreements numbers 820773, 820660, 820553, 820434, 820621, 768718, 820805, and
856943 respectively While the project BIMzeED Co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the EU
Acknowledgements: A deep appreciation and thanks to all the workshop speakers. They have provided great
support and efforts which contributed to the success of this workshop. Moreover, great knowledge and
experience has been shared
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest. The funders had no role in the design of the
study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision
to publish the results.
1. BIM4Ren CORDIS. Available online: (accessed on 23 October 2020).
2. BIM4EEB CORDIS. Available online: (accessed on 23 October 2020).
3. BIMSPEED CORDIS. Available online: (accessed on 23 October
4. ENCORE CORDIS. Available online: (accessed on 23 October 2020).
5. BIMERR CORDIS. Available online: (accessed on 23 October 2020).
6. RenoZEB CORDIS. Available online: (accessed on 23 October 2020).
7. SPHERE CORDIS. Available online: (accessed on 23 October 2020).
8. BIMzeED. Available online: (Accessed on 23 October 2020).
9. DIGIPLACE CORDIS. Available online: (accessed on 23
October 2020).
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