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19 December 2019

Cologne blog: The future of GrowSmarter’s solutions

The work we have done in GrowSmarter will have a lasting impact on the City of Cologne, but hopefully also far beyond our city limits. The three ‘action areas’ all hold different promises and possibilities for our – and other smart cities – future work.

Low Energy Districts

The replication potential for refurbishment is high all over Europe, especially as public housing owners have the capacity to quickly cover a very large number of dwellings with a single action. There is also the possibility to have lower investment costs by contracting large projects based on our experience in GrowSmarter where we refurbished no less than 687 dwellings.

The City of Cologne is now looking actively into finding other quarters or neighbourhoods where similar measures could be implemented as the next pilots, both in areas with single-family owners and not. We are also developing new guidelines for sustainable city planning to include climate protection measures at an early stage, such as energy and mobility concepts, as part of the early planning procedure for new buildings and areas.


The development of mobility stations and the introduction of E-bike sharing and E-car-sharing as well as shared parking in GrowSmarter currently serves as a role model for the entire City of Cologne in order to improve traffic flows. The public transportation company KVB will purchase more bicycles in Cologne as a result of the successful implementation and will gradually expand the operating area to all of Cologne.

Expansion of charging infrastructure is a priority in Cologne, as in most European cities. The City has developed a comprehensive master plan for future mobility stations including e-vehicles with the plan to implement it as funding arises. Currently, the question of who will be running the mobility stations is being discussed within the various branches of public services.

Integrated infrastructure

The third action area of GrowSmarter was integrated infrastructure – looking into the possibilities of using data to better reach our ambitions of fighting climate change and make our cities more sustainable. In Cologne, the topic of a big open data platform has received much attention on a city-wide scale and is in the process of city-wide negotiations regarding the use and implementation of a big data platform with the entire municipality.

These discussions are based on the work we have done to successfully implement big data platforms in GrowSmarter.

City-to-city engagement to share our Smart solutions

The city limits of Leverkusen borders the project area in Mülheim. In Leverkusen, the company Bayer is the largest employer after Ford. Therefore, the commuter flows between Cologne and Leverkusen are an issue to be solved for the city administration of Leverkusen. The City of Leverkusen has been working on mobility concepts for five years and wanted to look at the GrowSmarter solutions in the Stegerwaldsiedlung. Representatives from Leverkusen’s city administration from the areas of urban planning, climate protection and traffic joined us on September 30, 2019 to learn more about our mobility solutions. The solution of a mobility station is currently not available in Leverkusen, but the representatives consider the concept to be transferable. The idea to make the common multi-ticket available for different means of transportation, as done in Cologne, will be tried in any case. Since Leverkusen still has a large buildable area near the city boundary, there are good reasons to begin cooperation with Cologne. The intensive talks will continue on a bilateral level.

GrowSmarter presented itself at InterGeo Stuttgart

The InterGeo Conference and Trade Fair is the largest SmartCity fair in Germany and had 22,000 visitors stop by in September 2019. The Cologne leader on mobility, Carsten Rickers, presented our mobility-solutions in a 2.5-hour session and discussed mobility concepts with representatives from other cities. At another session we shared our evaluation results and our outlook on how the smart city models we have used can be transferred to other cities to further the rollout of smart cities.

The city of Cologne was not alone in presenting our results at this forum and we were joined by successful start-up companies with different smart city solutions. We used our engagement at the conference to discuss how the cooperation between city, business and science can become even more successful in the future. This resulted in important inputs and possible new partnerships between Cologne and industrial partners in future projects.

Local celebration of GrowSmarter

Shortly before the end of the GrowSmarter project, it was important for the representatives of the City of Cologne and the industry partners to invite the residents of the Mülheim project area to a final event on November 7. Without the active participation of local residents, the implementation of the GrowSmarter measures would not have been possible. In particular, the tenants of the Stegerwaldsiedlung had to endure during the energy efficient refurbishment of their apartments; issues such as noise, elimination of parking lots, outsourcing of furniture in containers have been dealt with by the residents and the project partners wanted to thank them with this event.

We invited all the tenants and the District Mayor of Mülheim gave an outlook on what further developments are expected for the district of Mülheim and how the residents will benefit from it. Dr. Barbara Möhlendick, my colleague as GrowSmarter’s site manager in Cologne, briefly summed up the results of the project, emphasizing that residents can be proud of their neighbourhood being a role model for the rest of Europe.

We also had the opportunity to present  GrowSmarter at the local housing conference 'Wachstum-Wandel-Wohnen'. The conference was held with multiple internal and external stakeholders on December 7 in Cologne. GrowSmarter was presented in the session on 'Preserving good things and daring new things'. Those kinds of events are a good chance to reach the existing building sector which is becoming more and more important and interesting to all stakeholders.

Cologne at the final conference of the EU-project GrowSmarter in Stockholm

When we set out three years ago, together with Barcelona and Stockholm, to prepare our city to join the fight against climate change, the aim was to develop measures contributing to save energy, reduce CO2 emissions and improve the quality of life for citizens throughout Europe.

So being at the final conference of GrowSmarter was a great experience for Cologne. In the presence of the Mayor of Stockholm Anna King Jerlmyr, the Commissioner of the 2030 Agenda 2030 at the City of Barcelona Miquel Rodriguez and the Vice-Mayor from Cologne Dr. Heinen, the success of the project was clearly presented.

City officials agree that the project is a major milestone in sustainable urban development and will therefore be a model for other cities in Europe. This already applies to the five Follower Cities (Cork, Graz, Suceava, Valetta and Porto).

The results are so convincing that the project has won numerous awards and prizes, such as in Cologne the special award of the BMWi on intelligent regions in Germany of the initiative "Intelligent networking", the award as NRW climate protection neighborhood, the award of the VKU of the innovative software Siedlungsmanagement management of RheinEnergie.

In Cologne, here in the Mülheim project area and the Stegerwaldsiedlung, the ambitious targets for CO2 savings and for the reduction of primary energy have been achieved. The deployment of mobility stations in the project area with connection to public transport, Car-Sharing, Bike-Sharing, online parking reservation and public charging stations has proven itself as an alternative to private cars and will now be rolled out on city-wide-scale in Cologne within the framework of the Green City Master Plan.

The surrounding cities and communities are also working within the larger network to support and implement mobility stations.

The Stegerwaldsiedlung is the largest self-contained neighbourhood area selected for a project such as GrowSmarter. The savings of CO2 by up to 72 percent and the primary energy between 77 and 83 percent and the savings of about 60 percent in the area of mobility stations could only be achieved through the overall concept of the measures.

Responsible for our effort in Cologne was a consortium consisting of the Deutsche Wohnungsgesellschaft (e.g. energy-efficient insulation and lighting, as well as windows with triple glazing), RheinEnergie AG (control of energy consumption using the software "Siedlungsmanagement", equipment with photovoltaic systems, air heat pumps, battery storage), the KVB (BikeSharing, Multiticket), Cambio CarSharing, Ampido (Online Parking Space Reservation), AGT (Real-Time Smart Plug Measurement Data Consumption and Use Analysis) and ui!] (Urban Open Data Platform, Smart City Cockpit and GreenAir Room Climate Control) and the City of Cologne (overall project management and coordination of the individual work-packages in Cologne as well as the coordination work on the topic of integrated infrastructures on international scale).

Delegations from more than 28 countries have already experienced the measures for themselves, so the Stegerwald neighbourhood can rightly be described as a model for European cities.

Now, based on the success of the GrowSmarter project, the City of Cologne can continue the development of the sustainable SmartCity Cologne with the participating companies.

18 December 2019

Barcelona Blog: Using GrowSmarter solutions to achieve Barcelona’s ambitions

The solutions developed in GrowSmarter have made Barcelona smarter and more sustainable, and they have the potential to do the same for Europe. Here in Barcelona, the GrowSmarter team is sure of this and have spent the final months of the project sharing that knowledge with the world. Our solutions on Low Energy Districts, Integrated Infrastructures and Sustainable Urban Mobility are fully implemented and validated, so we were able to bring the solutions and the lessons learnt to a number of high level events.

Most recently (on December 12, 2019), we arranged a session at COP25 in Madrid showcasing how urban innovation can play a role in fighting climate change and fulfil the 2030 Agenda. At the session, Barcelona’s Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, Miquel Rodriguez Planas, participated together with GrowSmarter’s project manager Lisa Enarsson (Stockholm) and Miguel Á. García from the European project Remourban. It was led by our partners from Anteverti led by Ana Alcantud.

They discussed the importance of building partnerships between different stakeholders when taking large scale action like what we have done in GrowSmarter. And they agreed that large scale action must be taken to fight climate change!

After the session on how innovative urban technologies can fight climate change, a group of political representatives took the stage to confirm their commitment to sustainable urban development. The Deputy Mayor of Barcelona, Ms. Laia Bonet, was joined by Mr. Oscar Puente Santiago, Mayor of the City of Valladolid, Ms. Ana Oregi, Deputy Major of City of Vitoria-Gasteiz and Mr. Mohammed Boudra, President of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), all agreed that urban areas are important centres of action in the fight against climate change. 

This kind of high level commitment is a great promise to the future of smart city solutions, and the solutions we have implemented in Barcelona. Measures such as our distribution of freight in the inner city using e-cargobikes (reducing Co2 emissions related to freight delivery by 96%) and our work with local renewable energy generation, are ready to be upscaled and replicated throughout Europe.

Focusing on Low Energy Districts in Barcelona

An important part of the work we have done in Barcelona has been centred on the creation and evaluation of Low Energy Districts. Our partners, led by Naturgy and Catalonia’s Institute for Energy Research (IREC), have worked hard to complete energy efficient refurbishments of old cultural heritage buildings, public housing, private housing and in in different types of privately owned recreational buildings.

On November 18th, the day before the Smart City Expo World Congress started, we therefore invited participants to a day presenting all the work we have to implement energy efficient refurbishments in GrowSmarter. We presented the main conclusions of GrowSmarter’s work with Energy refurbishment and had a chance to showcase the large solar pagoda currently supplying almost 5 percent of the energy consumption at the 20-storey building skyscraper Mare Nostrum Tower.

The day after, during the Smart City Expo World Congress, we momentarily stepped away from the congress at Fira Barcelona to show more smart solutions to interested congress-goers. We had an opportunity to see our e-charging infrastructure – set up by our partner Endesa – and the Smart Towers deployed by Cellnex which turn normal street lights into small urban telecom sites helping to connect the City of Barcelona.

To learn more about all the solutions, we have implemented in Barcelona, I encourage you to look through the GrowSmarter publications, where you will find factsheets, final reports on each action area, a report on introducing smart city solutions to the market and a thorough technical validation of all our work. If you represent a city hoping to implement a smart city strategy you can also benefit from reading our guide to replication.

4 November 2019

Stockholm Blog #11: Beyond GrowSmarter — what is ahead in Stockholm

We have less than two months left of the GrowSmarter project and it is time to look ahead. When we started the project, Stockholm was already growing fast and needed smart solutions for the growth to be sustainable. This growth has only accelerated and 140 000 new apartments and 280 000 new inhabitants are expected by 2030. Combined with the goal of becoming fossil-fuel free in 2040 Stockholm faces some challenges, but are there answers to find in the GrowSmarter project?

Actually, there are. Quite many indeed.

Better use of urban space

One of the first issues of growth is the use of land and city space. We need to use urban space very wisely. Let’s start with waste. What space is necessary for different waste handling methods. The numbers below are from a Swedish study where a waste collection system sorting into three fractions for 1700 households was evaluated:

  Waste collection and land use per household Waste collection land use for 140 000 new apartments
Conventional bin system 0,93 m² 130 000 m²
Conventional automated waste collection system 0,17 m² 24 000 m²

Then we have Envac’s smart waste handling system in Valla Torg. It is collecting 4 fractions, but all in one and the same inlet depositing into one terminal (container). So we collect four fractions and use one third of the space of the conventional AWCS evaluated above. This means that we use less than 0,06 square meters of land per household which would “only” total 8 000 square meters for all new inhabitants expected in Stockholm. Stockholmshem, the housing company, is currently building 160 new apartments near Envac’s smart waste system, and they only need to install the inlets as the terminal can easily handle the waste from these new households.

The same principle applies to the green parking index. The electrical car and cargo bike pool can provide mobility services to inhabitants using only a fraction of the space needed by private cars. Already deployed in Valla Torg, these mobility solutions are also available for the 160 new households thus minimising the need for parking space in the new buildings. This saved parking space alone can pay the additional costs of these mobility services. These are two great examples of smart sustainable solutions which also helps a growing city using its valuable space wisely.

Smarter waste collection leaves more urban space open. Photo: Envac

Re-using and storing power

We also need to heat up these 140 000 new apartments. In Stockholm, most buildings are connected to the district heating system. Stockholm Exergi has proved in GrowSmarter that waste heat from data centers or supermarkets can heat up buildings. In 2018 these and other waste heat sources heated up 31 000 apartments. The ongoing installations alone can heat up an additional 27 000 apartments in Stockholm. That means almost 60 000 apartments are heated up with heat that used to go to waste. With the expansion of data centers in Sweden it is not a far-fetched idea that all the 140 000 apartments could be heated with waste heat from data centers. There are data center providers which build their data centers under ground, thus not taking valuable space above ground, but still providing waste heat to the district heating system.

Waste heat recovery from data center. Photo: Stockholms Exergi


Stockholm still needs to reduce the need for heat in buildings. Skanska showed together with Stockholmshem and L&T that it is possible to reduce the energy need in existing buildings up to 75%. On a larger scale, Stockholmshem found, it is economically feasible to reduce energy use in existing buildings with the solutions installed in Valla Torg by 50%. Combining waste heat recovery with energy efficient refurbishment is one approach that could help Stockholm phase out the last coal and oil used in district heating well before 2030.

Stockholm, as many other cities, is facing an increased electrification. More data is processed, or should I say more and more videos are uploaded, shared and streamed, which demands more data centers. Data centers already consume as much electricity as the UK and this is rapidly increasing. In addition we have the electrification of vehicles and the use of heat pumps also demand electricity. We need to consider that Sweden is phasing out nuclear power, which means that we will be more dependent on renewable energy sources. As the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow all the time, we need electricity storages more in the future than now. L&T has combined photovoltaics, smart electricity management and battery storage in commercial, residential and office buildings in GrowSmarter. Even if battery storage currently is not economically feasible it will be increasingly so in the future. Battery storage can be used in two ways. In summer you store the overproduction of solar electricity there and in winter you cut electricity effect peaks with the storage. The latter is already done now, but will be even more important in the future. The results from the private condominium Årstakrönet where L&T has managed these solutions is very promising as the amount of electricity from the grid could be reduced with more than 30% with these and electricity saving measures. Peak loads have also been shaved and the three phases are no longer running a risk of being overloaded for instance when electrical vehicles are charged.

Streetlights are also abundant in Stockholm with more than 150 000 of them all running on electrictiy. The smart street lights installed show that electricity can be reduced between 20-45% compared to traditional LED-lights. The Traffic Department of Stockholm is now working to find the best solution and open platform to upscale the solutions and are testing this in Stockholm.Lastly the increased population will mean more people and more goods on the streets of Stockholm. As we do not have the space or possibility to build new streets and roads, we need to use the existing infrastructure in a much more efficient way.

Smarter solutions for a connected city

The construction logistics center implemented by Carrier is one such solution. When the construction material needed the day after is transported to the construction site the evening before, we can move these transports from times with a lot of traffic to times with less traffic. The waste can also be collected at the site with the returning transport in the evening. The overall traffic to the construction site will also decrease with the construction logistics center and these transports can be made with vehicles using biofuels as was done by Carrier. Considering that 140 000 apartments need to be built, the amount of construction material traffic will be high the next ten years and it will be important to implement this type of solution widely in the city. Interestingly, studies show that of the heavy transports in a city almost 30% are waste transports. The Envac waste solution mentioned above not only needs less space, but also reduced waste transports in the area with 90%.

Smart Connected steeet environment is key for controlling flows in the smart City. Photo: IMB

Sensor technology, connectivity, big data combined with artificial intelligence are means by which the city better can manage traffic flows in a city. In the Slakthus-area, the city together with IBM can show traffic flows of vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists in real time. We can predict congestion, we can understand how weather or different type of events correlate with people and traffic flows in the streets. We can use this information to guide people to transport themselves to and from the area in a sustainable, yet faster, way. As the Slakthus-area will be a large construction site the coming 10 years this information is essential to understand how construction transports, goods transports, event visitor traffic and other traffic can be managed in the often narrow streets. The new subway station will for instance guide a very large flow of people into Rökerigatan, which will be a main commercial street in the area. This street will not have separate pavements or bike lanes, so all modes of traffic needs to share the same street. By predictive flow analysis, especially regarding events, it is possible to manage goods transports and deliveries, so that they do not collide with people going to events.

If this sounds at all interesting I do welcome you to follow our final conference on December 3rd, where all these solutions will be showed as part of the study visit programme. If you have not signed up for the event, you can stay updated by following GrowSmarter on Twitter.


Mika Hakosalo

Site Manager, Stockholm

For the previous blog post, click here


4 November 2019

Cologne Blog #11: Sharing the Smart Solutions

In the past five years, the GrowSmarter partners in Cologne have achieved great results in the three different areas of the project: Low Energy Districts, Integrated Infrastructures and Sustainable Urban Mobility. Now we are working hard to ensure upscaling becomes possible in Cologne and that other cities can benefit from our efforts and replicate the smart city solutions we have implemented.

To this effect, we organized several study visits and numerous events to regularly educate groups of visitors from universities and cities from within Germany, Europe and abroad. The partners of GrowSmarter got a first taste of that work, when they visited Cologne for our General Assembly over the summer.

Action Area 1: Low Energy Districts

During the General Assembly we took our partners on a tour to experience our work in Low Energy Districts for themselves. The scene was the GrowSmarter project area Mülheim (Stegerwaldsiedlung), where we have implemented a large-scale energy efficient refurbishment of 16 building blocks to lower their CO2 emissions and upgrade them for our citizens to live in. Noticeable results from this work done by our partners include an average CO2 reduction of 72% in the Stegerwaldsiedlung neighborhood.

Our partner, the German utility RheinEnergie, also installed photovoltaic cells on top of buildings in the neighbourhood, and is exploiting that energy to make the Stegerwaldsiedlung more self-sufficient. In order to achieve this, they implemented the so-called Siedlungsmanagement software which makes it possible to plan energy use in a much more efficient manner through the entire neighbourhood.


Action Area 2: Integrated infrastructures

Under the theme Integrated Infrastructures, we have focused on two different, albeit connected, approaches. On the ground in Cologne, on the so-called “Klimastraße”, which is part of the initiative ‘SmartCity Cologne’ where RheinEnergie tests innovative technologies, the company integrated three electric charging points electric vehicles in lampposts on the street. These three charging points have a yearly loading volume of 14.000 kWh and in one year of implementation they reduced the CO2 emmissions by ten tonnes compared to if the same transportation had been done in regular cars.

The second approach is related to Big Data and the work done by [ui!] - the urban institute with its open urban big data platform called ‘Urban Pulse’. The platform is able to store and process urban data in real-time in order integrate a wide range of different data and services used by Cologne (and other cities when the solution is replicated!). Data can be shared from different departments of a city administration as well as from different utilities or third parties with relevant data. The data platform gives a fast and easy overview of the current situation of the city. Different focal areas such as the environment or traffic can be considered. Three factsheets explaining the different use-cases of the Urban Pulse were recently made and you can find them online at the GrowSmarter website:

Action Area 3: Sustainable Urban Mobility

Finally, we showed our partners visiting from the rest of the GrowSmarter cities some of the implementations we have done to improve Urban mobility in Cologne as part of the project. A centrepiece of this work is the Mobility Stations. A mobility station offers multiple transport alternatives at one location. The mobility stations can vary in both size and type of location, and ten different stations were implemented in or near the neighbourhood of Mülheim. Some offer e-bike and e-car sharing, while others may offer public transportation in connection to parking and the availability of e-bikes.

In total, together with our partners, RheinEnergie, Cambio Cologne, KVB and Ampido, we have deployed 54 different e-vehicles in Cologne (cars and bikes) in the different mobility stations. As mentioned in earlier blogs, the process for signing up for an e-bike is simple. The costumer can sign up for free by using the homepage, by using the KVB or nextbike App or register on the phone by using the nextbike costumer hotline.


A Mobility Station at Stegerwaldsiedlung. Photo: KVB

Our partners from KVB and cambio have described their work with the Mobility Station in an independent blog Segment:

Mobility station, e-bikes and the new design guide - by the industrial partners KVB and cambio

Within the project of GrowSmarter, in particular for the mobility stations, all technical requirements e.g. the certifications of safety and quality of the products, have been completed. For the commission of the e-bikes a test called "Inbetriebnahmeprüfung" by the the German Technical Inspection Association was necessary. The KVB is the first company, who realized this test of an e-bike station in Germany.

Since the 8th of Februar all e-bikes are in use. Because of the many unauthorized returns of the e-bikes outside the mobililty stations, the KVB had to develop a new design for the e-bikes to ensure the customers understand the difference between an e-bike and a conventional bike. These difference refer to the pricing system and the regulations of returning and renting the e-bikes.

The Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Sieg developed a new design guide for the signature of mobility stations in Nord Rhine-Westfalia. Together with the city council of Cologne and cambio carsharing a new concept for the pedestrian signs between the light rail- and bus stations and the mobility stations had to be installed.

Furthermore there has been an enourmous sharing and discussion of information and experience especially for the members of WP4 during the general assemblies in Barcelona and Porto. In addition to the GA´s there has been a webinar concerning urban mobility which was presented by Tanya Bullmann (cambio CarSharing) and Thomas Bischof (KVB). There have also been many interviews regarding the GrowSmarter project and the development of smart mobility. These requests from students and universities have been answered from nearly all team members of WP 4.

New Design of Mobility Stations. Photo: cambio

In order to increase the use of the offered electric car-sharing, cambio started so called „E-Infoveranstaltungen“. These are best described as a meet & greet between cambio staff and customers or car-sharing interested people directly at the mobility stations during weekends. Every weekend, cambio met customers at a different station in order to explain the usage of the electric vehicles and lower the threshold for use. The meetings turned out to be very successful and each was visited by at least 15 up to 50 people. Customers were asking cambio staff questions and exchanged experiences. In the weeks after each current meeting we could see an increased use of e-vehicles at the mobility stations.

Julia Egenolf

Site Manager, Cologne

For the previous blog post, click here


29 March 2019

Barcelona Blog #10: visiting GrowSmarter’s impact in Barcelona

Smart refurbishment for a better quality of life: visiting GrowSmarter’s impact in Barcelona

Efficient insulation and smart refurbishment can reduce households’ energy consumption –and costs –, improve people’s thermal comfort and foster sustainability. This is what the GrowSmarter project has worked on achieving together with the Barcelona City Council, the Housing Agency of Catalonia, the energy services company Naturgy– and 50 families of Barcelona’s Canyelles neighbourhood.

In the framework of the Housing and Renovation Forum of Barcelona, a series of public visits to successful innovative urban initiatives developed in Barcelona were organized by the City Council on March 22nd. The tour included a technical visit of the GrowSmarter solutions in Canyelles, implemented between the second half of 2016 and the beginning of 2017.

The technical team leading the visit explained how the project achieved its goal of generating social, economic and environmental benefits through the refurbishment of a residential building [read the factsheet on the refurbishment ofresidential buildings here].

With micro-grants funded by the GrowSmarter project and the Barcelona City Council –covering up to 80% of the cost of the activities–, the 50 primarily lower middle to low-income families that participated in the project installed more efficient windows and blinds in their homes. At the same time, boilers were replaced to reduce gas consumption, efficient water taps –aerators– were installed, and home energy management systems were deployed. The participation of the community of the building in the GrowSmarter project also meant that the insulation of the façade and the roof was increased and upgraded according to the current minimum requirements by the Spanish Building Technical Code. All measures taken within the initiative reliedon a participatory process involving all relevant stakeholders: the families, the City Council and the GrowSmarter coordination team.

As a result, the community living in the building has reduced its gas and electricity consumption by approximately 31% –saving money for tenants and contributing to their economic empowerment–, which also implies a saving in CO2 emissions. In addition to this, the initiative has succeeded in raising energy efficiency awareness among the families of the community, which are now able to better control their energy use through the home energy management systems. Finally, this solution means a better quality of life for the families in terms of thermal comfort and sound isolation, exemplifying how structural interventions can improve life in cities from both a behavioural and material perspectives.

See the pictures of the study visit.

Contributing authors: Ana Alcantud, Consulting Director at anteverti, Sergio García, Communications Coordinator at anteverti, and Alba Soler, Consultant at anteverti

Iot technology to improve electrical distribution security

The improvement, renewal and continuous maintenance of the network are fundamental to ensure the proper operation of the electrical system. Endesa works to guarantee the quality of the service, the continuity of supply and the safety of the installations, carrying out the necessary actions on infrastructure.

Within the GrowSmarter project, five secondary substations with IoT technology have been equipped to improve the operation of the secondary substations and the safety of workers, in addition to obtaining information that contribute to improving the management of the City.

Until now, there was no information available on the status of the secondary substations.  Thus, there could be situations such as flooded installations or grounding issues not known until an intervention is carried out which puts at risk the people, the installation and the supply.

This technological innovation tool, at the level of electrical distribution, improves security by:

- Sending information about the facilities: Endesa staff and collaborating companies will have information before entering the facilities, knowing in advance the risks that exist.

- Early detection of hazards: Smoke, floods, and other potential risks are detected in an early stage.

As a next step in improving the safety of people and installations, the Open Me project has been launched. It consists of the authorization on demand of access to the installation of the operator who requests it. This is achieved by an intelligent key that only opens the access lock after authentication and authorization.

The objectives that are pursued and achieved with the launch of the Open Me pilot are:

Increase the security of the installations by controlling the access thanks to the authorization-on-demand.Improve operability by reducing waiting times for access

Author: Endesa


Gonzalo Cabeza

Site Manager, Barcelona

For the previous blog post, click here

13 March 2019

Stockholm Blog #10: The Moment of Truth

In January 2019 IESE researchers visited Stockholm to discuss with partners the economic evaluation of the measures implemented. The partners were also able to have a chat with KTH researchers about the technical evaluation. After this meeting the general feeling was that it is possible to evaluate the measures technically, economically and socially with the available data. IESE researchers also discussed the upscaling of measures and their replicability, which are an important part of this project. In this blog I will elaborate a little bit on the evaluation of measures in work packages 2 and 3 where evaluation data is available.

Action area 1: Low-Energy Districts

What is happening in Valla Torg, Årsta and the Slakthus area buildings, what results do we have and what can be scaled-up?

In Valla Torg the refurbishment and implementation of energy efficient measures of the final two multi-storey buildings (2A and 3B) and the low-storey building 5E are finalised. Tenants have moved in to buildings 2A and 5 E and will move in to building 3B in March. The reductions in energy use based on the evaluation this far was as follows:

BUILDING 6F Area size Energy purchased Energy produced locally Energy use
Before refurbishment 4942 m² 650 510 kWh   132 kWh/m²
After refurbishment 5191 m² 193 162 kWh 4 276 kWh (new photovoltaics installed) 38 kWh/m²
Total energy use reduction 94 kWh/m2 or 72%

In Building 6F the total reduction in consumed energy was thus 94 kWh/m2 thus 72%.

BUILDING 7G Area size Energy purchased Energy produced locally Energy use
Before refurbishment 4571 m² 568 136 kWh   124 kWh/m²
After refurbishment 4626 m² 370 578 kWh 11 493 kWh (new photovoltaics installed) 83 kWh/m²
Total energy use reduction 44 kWh/m2 or 36%

In Building 7G the total reduction in consumed energy was 44 kWh/m2 (36%). These figures are lower than expected, but they are largely due to the fact that the exhaust air heat pumps were not functioning before December 2018. The estimation for 2019 with fully functioning heat pumps is a reduction of 64% in consumed energy.

BUILDING 8H Area size Energy purchased Energy produced locally Energy use
Before refurbishment 5401,5 m² 688 049 kWh   127 kWh/m²
After refurbishment 5651 m² 415 170 kWh 3087 kWh (new photovoltaics installed) 74 kWh/m²
Total energy use reduction 53 kWh/m2 or 42%

In Building 8H the total reduction in consumed energy was thus 53 kWh/m2 (42%). These figures were also lower than expected, but they were also largely due to the fact that the exhaust air heat pumps were not functioning before the end of November 2018. The estimation for 2019 with fully functioning heat pumps is a reduction of 66% in consumed energy.

If the estimated values for buildings 7G and 8 H are reached the average energy use per squaremeter in the first three evaluated buildings is 42 kWh/m2.  These are very promising results, considering that the original building is from 1961 and that the requirement for new-built buildings in Stockholm is 55 kWh/m2.

As the results indicate, the technical solutions are indeed able to reduce the energy use in an old residential building by more than 70%, but it is economically feasible? We do not yet have the economic figures, so unfortunately it is too early to define if the refurbishment is economically feasible or not. I should be able to answer this in the next blog in May. There are other issues to consider. One of these issues is the u-value of the windows. The windows chosen in the project have a very low u-value of 0,7. In our northern climate this low u-value has meant that during special weather conditions more than half of the window has had frost on the outside. The frost indicate that heat is not leaking out the window, but for the tenant it is inconvenient when they cannot look out the window.

In the private condominia Brf Årstakrönet the evaluation is on its second year. Compared to the 2015 baseline, the savings in 2018 was around -11% for district heating -13% for electricity (not including electricity used in apartments) and -3% for water.

In Slakthus-area the refurbishment of building 8 is finalised. Compared to the 2017 baseline, the savings in 2018 were 49% for district heating. The baseline for electricity in 2017 is not comparable with the 2018 use as the function of the building has changed becoming amusic club which resulted in an  increased use of electricity of 300% .

The substitute building Kylhuset in Slakthus-area is also finalised for building related energy efficiency measures. Compared to the 2017 baseline, the savings in 2018 were 19% for district heating and 10% for building electricity. The production of electricity from photovoltaics is not available yet 2018, nor the recovery of waste heat from the datacentre. These do not affect the above figures, but they do affect the saving in total CO2-emissions.

Action area 2: Integrated Infrastructures

Installing smart LED-lighting

The smart LED-street lights (solution 5) have now been in operation for more than two years and the system works well. There are three sub-measures implemented and evaluated. I presented the results in my previous blog post but in summary the savings are between 14 and 46% depending on the sub-measure. The economic evaluation is not yet available, but in my next blog I will be able to talk more about the economic feasibility of this measure.  

A Smart, Connected City

The aim of the measure 5.2 is to implement in the city environment, if possible on existing infrastructure, sensors for data collection, analysis, visualization.  

Two types of sensors have been implemented in the Slakthus-area and have been operating for one year. The 10 sensors for measuring vehicle traffic on a real-time base have been functioning well and have provided accurate data. Some of the sensors were installed in existing infrastructure (a bridge, existing road signs), whereas others were installed on poles specifically set up for that purpose, as neither the traffic or light poles could bear their weight. As it is costly to install the poles, bring electricity and connectivity to them, it is important that the sensors can operate for a long period of time. Therefore we are currently working on extending the measurement time beyond the project time.

The wifi-nodes were installed in buildings owned by the city and could use the existing connectivity (broadband) there. No additional cabling for electricity was needed as the wifi-nodes were connected with power over Ethernet (PoE). Theywere supposed to detect passing people in a very accurate way, but in reality did not do so. The issues were the sensitivity of the sensors, that regularly stopped working and the connection to people’s mobile device which was too long (between 20 seconds and 3 minutes) to determine if people were pedestrians, cyclers, or passing in a car.

We are currently going through all wifi-nodes not providing data to re-start and/or replace them. We also add new wifi-nodes to provide additional data. And as a third step IBM is installing multisensors to gather additional data about pedestrians and bicyclists in the Slakthusarea, as part of M8.1.

The data from the sensors are analysed and visualised in the IOT platform provided by IBM. In the platform we have information about all sensors as well as a map (see below).

IBM, who is responsible for the open consolidated big data platform (solution 8), has built up a multi-use data platform where real-time data can be analysed, but also were the data can be turned into practical usecases on reducing transport emissions and increasing the quality of life for citizens. Data flows from the sensor vendors’ systems via two separate entry points. The data is then immediately stored in the data lake for later processing but also fed online via the IBM Event Streams system for online processing, e.g. real time counting of unique visitors, or passages through the system.

Implementation of a Big Data platform often impose a higher start-up cost for the first use case. Adding additional cases or increasing the usage of the same use case can lower the cost per unit of use case. This effect is basically a result of services or labour costs. The IT related platform cost (IBM Cloud) is consumption based and will have a low cost for the low volumes also at the start.

The Measure is economically sustainable when we assume that the foundation would be used for more cases or at a larger scale. The Measure is installed in a limited geographical  area with few sensors connected which  makes the relative cost per sensor higher.

Waste Heat recovery

Fortum’s open district heating (solution 6) system has two sub measures. The first sub measure is “waste heat recovery from data centers”. The data center is now having a load of 0,54 MW heat and will annually generate approx. 4,7 GWh (based on 8760 hours of operation/year) of heat. The heat reuse of the data center is expected to increase gradually to a level of approximately 1MW heat, a heat recovery that is sufficient to heat more than 1,000 apartments while reducing annual CO2 emissions in Stockholm. From the technical perspective, the main innovative solution applied to the data center is the heat pump model used, which is the first of its kind in Sweden. The heat pump is able to produce hot water at a temperature of 85oC instead of around 68oC. This is an advantage since a higher delivery temperature allows for more running hours in the district heating system, also during cold days when district heating customer SLA requires temperatures above 68C.  

This measure has been economical feasible for both the district heating company Stockholm Exergi and the supplier. For Stockholm Exergi the recovered heat has been cost efficient compared to other production units. For a large-scale implementation of heat recovery into the district heating network Stockholm Exergi gains in other aspect such as avoiding peak production capacity investments and reducing operation and maintenance costs thanks to third party ownership of the production asset. For the data center, heat recovery generates a revenue stream from the waste heat that otherwise would be costly to get rid of. Since the datacenter had expansion plans there was an investment need in more cooling capacity. Instead of another conventional cooling machine, this heat pump solution with heat recovery was chosen. If you compare these two options this measure shows economical gains for the supplier compared to conventional data center cooling. Pay-back for the supplier will be within 5 years time but the economical values will remain over the total technical lifetime of approximately 15-25 years.

The second sub measure is “waste heat recovery from fridges and freezers in supermarkets”. The studied supermarket had a heat recovery potential of up to 30 kW which would approx. generate 219 MWh annually. As long as the measure was in operation, during January to August 2017, the running time was over 99%, way higher than the initial aim of 50%.

The conclusions regarding the sustainability of this measure shows that implementing heat recovery will contribute to decreasing the use of fossil fuels and carbon emissions independently of the electricity mix used when calculating the footprint.

The economic feasibility of this measure could not be adequately evaluated due to the lack of data caused by the limited time of operation.  The pay-back period for the supplier is estimated to be within 10 years’ time but the generation of economical value would continue over the equipment’s total technical lifetime of approximately 15-25 years.

Smart waste handling

The waste handling system provided by Envac has been running since summer 2017. This solution demonstrates a smart waste solution for residential areas using differently coloured bags for different sorts of waste, transporting the bags long distance underground and sorting them automatically in a treatment plant. There are currently six inlets in operation in the installation due to the general time plan of the refurbishment of the Valla torg site. When the automated waste collecting system is in full operation there will be 13 inlets, thus increasing the amount of waste significantly, in turn making the evaluation more relevant.

There is no data available for the sorting rate prior to the installation of the automated waste collecting system, so the sorting rate is compared to reference values from the Optibag sorting facility in the city of Eskilstuna, see table 1. Notably the residents in Årsta sort their waste better the residents of Eskilstuna. There is less rest fraction and more of organic fraction and paper packaging, even though there is slightly less plastic packaging. This is a good sign, since there were no sorting of organic waste prior to the installation of the AWCS in Årsta.

Fraction Årsta 181122-181212 Eskilstuna reference values (source : Envac Optibag AB)
Rest fraction 41% 52%
Organic fraction 41% 34%
Plastic packaging 6% 8%
Paper packaging 13% 7%

The organic fraction can be used for biogas production, which in turn can be used in vehicles. So it is very promising that this fraction per quantity is the largest.

A normal consequence of the installation of an AWCS from Envac is a substantial reduction of waste truck traffic in the area. This is also the result for the Growsmarter installation in Årsta/Valla Torg.  The traffic in the area is reduced by 90%.With the available information the measure seems to be financially sustainable, if the present revenues are maintained along the life time of the asset.

As the evaluation of measures in workpackages 2 and 3 shows, we do have some interesting results and measures which have a great potential for replication both in Stockholm and in other European cities. We will return to WP4 measures as well as WP2 economic evaluation in the next blog when I have this data available.

With this I wish you a pleasant and sunny spring.


Mika Hakosalo

Site Manager, Stockholm

For the previous blog post, click here

29 June 2018

Stockholm Blog #9: Looking at first evaluation results

In 2014, when we selected the smart solutions and the partners that would implement these in Stockholm, we wanted to show how a city can tackle the sustainability challenges of rapid urban growth. Now that these solutions are in place we want to evaluate the results to show that we can achieve the goals initially defined and do so in an economically sound way. When we look at the first set of evaluation data collected we can see at the same time promising results, no results at all and negative results. In many cases we simply do not have enough data to give an accurate answer. Also the systems have in many cases not been fully optimised and/or is running on partial capacity, so it is too early to define if they are working well.

Action area 1: Low-Energy Districts - What is happening in Valla Torg, Årsta and the Slakthus area buildings and what results do we have?

In Valla Torg the refurbishment of the two first multi-storey buildings (7G and 6) and the low-storey building 8 are finalised and the tenants have moved in. The evaluation of energy use has started, but the first set of evaluation data is not complete, so it is too early to tell how well the energy efficiency measures have worked. Refurbishment of the other buildings are still in progress and will be finalised between September 2018 and January 2019.

In the private condominia Brf Årstakrönet the evaluation is on its second year. The use of electricity, water and energy used for heating is evaluated. Each energy source is followed on a monthly basis and compared to the baseline.  Also the amount of solar energy produced by PV cells are measured.

Compared to 2015, the first full operational year of savings was around -10%, for district heating -30% for electricity (not including electricity used in apartments) and -4% for water.

In Slakthusarea the refurbishment of building 8 is finalised. The evaluation of energy use has started, but as the building and energy measures were so recently done there is no data yet available telling how well the energy efficiency measures have worked. The substitute buildings Kylhuset in Slakthusareaare also finalised for building related energy efficiency measures. The waste heat recovery will be installed in summer 2018 as well as the PVs combined with battery storage.

Action area 2: Integrated Infrastructures

Installing smart LED-lighting

The smart LED-street lights (solution 5) have now been in operation for 1,5 years and the system has worked well. There are three sub measures implemented and evaluated and the results for the first year of evaluation is presented below. It is important to understand that the baseline is LED-street lights. So the energy saving of replacing a metal halogen street 50 W with LED light of 30W is not included. This saving is about 30%.

  • The first sub measure is “Sensor controlled LED lighting for pedestrian and bicycle paths” to enable the lights to provide base lighting to satisfy the feeling of safety at all times and increase the level of lighting when someone approaches. The first 12 months of evaluation indicate an energy saving of 45,9% a year. The original target of 40-50% savings was thus reached.
  • The second sub measure is “Self-controlled LED street lighting with pre-set lighting schemes”. The first 12 months of evaluation indicate an energy saving of 14,4% a year. The original target of 20% savings was not reached in this first year.
  • The third sub measure is “Remote controlled LED street lighting which can be controlled from a distance”. The first 12 months of evaluation indicate an energy saving of 19,3% a year. The original target of 30-50% savings was not reached in this first year.

The next step will be to define how cost effective these sub measures have been.

A Smart Connected City

The aim of the measure 5.2 is to implement in the city environment, if possible on existing infrastructure, sensors for data collection, analysis, visualization and via an IOT platform also test the possibilities to use sensor data for direct communication to citizens as well as using flow data to pre-program and steer city infrastructure such as street lights.

Two types of sensors have been implemented in the Slakthusarea. The first type is 10 sensors for measuring vehicle traffic on a real-time base and the second type are wifi-based sensors to measure pedestrian and bicyclist traffic. The data from the sensors are analysed and visualised in the IOT platform provided by IBM. Below are some examples of visualised data analytics.

IBM, who is responsible for the open consolidated big data platform (solution 8), will build up a multiuseable data platform where real-time data can be analysed, but also were the data can be turned into practical usecases reducing transport emissions and increasing the quality of life for citizens. The development work is done in an agile process were users from different city organisations work together with IBMs development team. Currently the development team is working on developing a mobile application to help event visitors in the Slakthusarea to navigate in the area is a best possible way. In autumn the development team will start working with how the flow data collected could be used to steer street lights in the area.

CO2 emission (g/km) from passing vehicles (left) and amount of pedestrians in the area during an event (right)

Smart waste handling

The waste handling system provided by Envac has been running since the summer 2017. This solution (Measure 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3) demonstrates a smart waste solution for residential areas using differently coloured bags for different sorts of waste, transporting the bags long distance underground and sorting them automatically in a treatment plant. There are yet only two inlets in operation in the installation due to the general time plan of the refurbishment of the Valla torg site. When the AWCS is in full operation there will be 13 inlets, thus increasing the amount of waste significantly, in turn making the evaluation more relevant. The organic fraction can be used for biogas production, which in turn can be used in vehicles. So it is very promising that this fraction per quantity is the largest. 

Waste sorting results
Color Fraction Quantity Distribution
White Rest fraction 76 20,4%
Yellow Paper packaging 90 24,1%
Orange Plastic packaging 80 21,4%
Green Organic fraction 127 34,0%

Action area 3: Sustainable Urban Mobility

Building logistics centre and delivery boxes

The Building logistics centre (solution 2) implemented by Carrier, will start handling more materials for the last buildings to be refurbished in Valla Torg. Unfortunately the evaluation data is not yet available, so it is not possible to define how well the solution is working.

The implementation of delivery boxes (solution 9) by Carrier is done. The delivery boxes are actually a delivery room, which later on can be used for other purposes. The delivery room can be easily used for any type of deliveries, small and big. The deliveries are transported by bike to the room. When the package has arrived the tenant will get a message and with an app, open the door and then go and collect it.  The tenant can also put returning packages in a special shelf. As the system has been in use for a short time, only a tenfold of packages were delivered. The camera surveilled room together with identification of users and specified door codes guarantee that a package is not accessed by other users by mistake.

From package delivery by bike to pick up from Tenant using the app

Smart Traffic Management

Insero has together with NOAE (Network of Automotive Excellence) implemented an information system for drivers (solution 10). Effects on travel time and the drivers’ experiences has not yet been evaluated.

KTH has developed a smart phone application to follow up changes in travel behaviour. In the same application, information about renewable fuels in Stockholm will be shown. The application is launched, but no evaluation data is available.  

Alternative fuel driven vehicles

As part of the GrowSmarter project, Fortum will install up to 10 charging stations and one fast charger (solution 11). The fast charger is installed in Årsta. The normal chargers are also installed in Valla Torg.

The first four refuelling stations for renewable fuels are up and running. The filling station in Årsta is expected to be built in 2018. Data from the first refuelling station shows some drastic results. The station was launched in 2016 as a renewable station and drivers did not think they could also get traditional diesel there. When they did understand this, the diesel sales increased. It is important to remember that only 10% of all trucks in Sweden are defined as green vehicles, so in that perspective 18% sales of biogas is a good result.

Stockholmshem launched its electrical carpool (solution 12) for tenants and habitants in February 2018. In February and March there were 14 tenants who have enrolled themselves to the carpool. The cars are frequently used especially during weekends.

Communication and marketing

An event for tenants in Valla Torg was organised 18th of April 2018. In the events Stockholm Site partners showed smart solutions for the tenants and they could also test solutions like the cargo bike. The event was successful and received positive feedback from tenants.

All photos from the tenant event was taken by Bengt Alm.

In Slakthusarea an inauguration was held 15th of May introducing the smart solutions implemented in the area. Some 100 persons from different organisations attended the event. It was a wonderful weather and the visitors had a possibility to both listen to presentations as well as see the solutions in practice in a study visit.

All photos from the Slakthusarea event was taken by Sven Lindwall.

With this I want to wish you a very nice summer.


Mika Hakosalo

Site Manager, Stockholm

For the previous blog post, click here

26 June 2018

Barcelona Blog #9: Drawing the lessons of the low-energy districts solutions

Read about Barcelona's first lessons learned from the implementation phase of low energy district solutions: learn the importance of business models, regulatory framework and finding value proposition for energy consumption visualization platforms. Get more details on the refurbishment of the Escola Sert center, a part of The College of Architects of Catalonia (COAC). 

Action area 1: Low-Energy Districts - Lessons learnt

The main objective of the GrowSmarter work package called "Low energy districts" is the deployment of energy efficiency measures to reduce the environmental impact of the existing building stock in cities.

To date, we have already reached the stage within the GrowSmarter project where practically all measures are completely executed and the corresponding monitoring phase has started. This has allowed the collection of the first conclusions and lessons learned from the last 2 years of implementation work required to make the proposed measures reality.

In total, 123 000m2 of constructed surface area have been refurbished in the three Lighthouse cities (including private and public buildings, tertiary and residential buildings), and local energy generation has been promoted by connecting buildings to District Heating and Cooling networks, on-site renewable electricity production, and advanced smart energy management of the local energy generation. The project has also promoted the deployment of Home Energy Management Systems to raise awareness on energy efficiency among the citizens. In this context, each Lighthouse city has implemented Smart solutions of different nature but with the same goal: the demonstration of measures leading to a more energy efficient city building stock.

In Barcelona, the partners involved in the Low energy districts work package have highlighted the importance of the following topics:

  • Explore feasible business models behind the private building energy retrofitting in relatively low heating demand areas (Mediterranean zone): The industrial partner responsible for the demonstration of private building energy retrofitting in Barcelona highlights the general need for Public-Private partnerships and, in case of commercial buildings, the need for agreements between building owners and operators. In Barcelona, the feasibility of actions related to the energy retrofitting of private buildings by an industrial partner has been possible through the figure of an ESCo (Energy Service Company) that has promoted Public-Private partnerships in order to find a favourable funding for the building owners.  
  • Define the value proposition of energy consumption visualization platforms prior to installation: The two energy consumption visualization platforms deployed in Barcelona have shown different value propositions. The Municipality deployed the free Virtual Energy Advisor, which aims at empowering citizens to decrease the electricity consumption in the residential sector. The local utility GNF deployed a commercial HEMS (Home Energy Management System), which will increase consumers’ energy efficiency awareness while providing valuable information on energy consumption consumers’ habits.
  • Consider the strong dependence on National regulation for the implementation of Self-consumption systems (Photovoltaics + Battery systems) with Smart energy management systems: Considering the existing regulation in Spain at the time of the GrowSmarter project’s implementation phase, a distributed photovoltaic (PV) energy generation installation can only feed a single consumer. Hence, in order to implement this measure, the PV systems had to be installed at the common rooftop of the residential building and can only satisfy the common end-uses of the building (i.e. elevators and lighting). Moreover, the current legislation does not allow any retribution from the injection in the grid of surplus renewable electricity generation. This limits the possibilities that the smart energy management can offer.


Refurbishment of Escola Sert (COAC)

Sert School is a continuous formation centre through which The College of Architects of Catalonia (COAC) offers a systematic program of training and accompaniment to the professional group. The College of Architects of Catalonia is an institution, established in 1931. Its building was built between 1959 and 1962 and it is located in Plaça Nova, Barcelona.

The project will affect the College building’s façade where the Sert School will be located after the refurbishment. This is a protected building catalogued as historical heritage. Therefore the intervention has been designed and executed respecting the composition and aesthetic of the original building while improving its energy performance and comfort.

On February 2017, the final agreement between Gas Natural Servicios and COAC was signed in order to take part in the GrowSmarter project. At that moment, COAC was already carrying out a global reform, not limited to an energy refurbishment. The municipal permissions were obtained during 2015. The scope of Growsmarter within the global project consists in implementing façade-integrated PV plant and a Building Energy Management System (BEMS).

The implementation started in June 2017 with the PV glass and the electrical installation engineering. The works related to the façade started in October 2017 and they finished in January 2018. The Building Energy Management System (BEMS) was installed once all the refurbishment works finished. The collaboration is taking place under an Energy Services contract, through which the Energy Services Company (Gas Natural Servicios, GNF’s ESCo) provides a turnkey solution and performs the investment in exchange for an annual fee. GNF is responsible for the PV glass supply and its integration in the building electrical installation and also the design and implementation of the BEMS.

The school and the whole building are undergoing a global refurbishment complemented by the GrowSmarter project:

  • Façade refurbishment, incorporating mostly glass surface: Improvement of the sound insulation and reduction of the thermal losses
  • Implementation of a 19.5 kWp façade-integrated PV plant for self-consumption.

Specific photovoltaic glasses have been selected taking into account both technical and aesthetic properties.

COAC Façade under construction and photovoltaic glasses (PV). Source: Diputació de Barcelona

Added Value

Data gathered by the BEMS will be used for better energy management by the building operator resulting in further reductions in energy consumption that achieved using that data. In addition, one of the main aspects to highlight in this refurbishment is the definition of an optimal PV installation design integrated in a building façade, minimizing the visual impact and maximizing the power production that can be obtained through self-consumption.


Gonzalo Cabeza

Site Manager, Barcelona

For the previous blog post, click here

26 February 2018

Barcelona Blog #8: Breathing new life into old buildings

Read about how Barcelona has completed refurbishment works in several building complexes, including social housing buildings, student residences, a new library and more! Energy saving solutions have been implemented together with smart monitoring systems to track the new energy performance of the buildings. The solutions being implemented could be replicated across the city and have a considerable impact on the energy performance of Barcelona's buildings.


Action area 1: Low-Energy Districts

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

Inaugural ceremony of newly retrofitted public library

The refurbishment works on the public library owned by Barcelona Municipality, which are part of the GrowSmarter project, have been completed. The inaugural ceremony of the Library Montserrat Abelló in the district Les Corts was held on 26th January with the attendance of the Mayor and other representatives of the City Council.

Located in an old silk factory, the new public library is an example of the refurbishment of an industrial building owned by the Municipality of Barcelona. In this case, three adjacent buildings (an old industrial building most recently used as a warehouse and two office buildings) have been retrofitted to become the new public library of the district, a public facility of more than 3,000 m2.

The new library is the first public building in the city of Barcelona with the BREEAM® (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) certificate, a world-leading sustainability assessment method for buildings. In order to achieve this, the Municipality included energy efficiency criteria in the structural refurbishment of the building to reduce its environmental impact. The scope of the energy retrofitting works includes the improvement of the façade, roof, ground floor and glazing insulation to reduce the demand for heating and air conditioning of the building, the installation of radiant floor system for heating and cooling that contributes to the energy savings of the building, and the installation of software for the energy management of the building (BEMS). In addition, the library will cover part of its own electrical demand with a solar photovoltaic installation on the rooftop.

To watch a summary video of the inaugural ceremony please click here.

The official speech held by the Administration during the inauguration ceremony. Source: Sergi Ramos/Diputació de Barcelona
General view of the ground floor of the library. Source: IREC

Works on social housing building finished by Barcelona Municipality

The refurbishment works in the residential building of Passeig Santa Coloma 55-71, promoted by the public body responsible for social housing in Barcelona Institut Municipal de l’Habitatge i la Rehabilitació - IMHAB , were finished in December 2017.

This building is composed of 207 dwellings with a total surface of 14,165m2, which will benefit from the passive refurbishment of the entire building façade. The insulation of the building façade is expected to lead to a reduction of the heating demand of the dwellings. The benefits for the tenants will not only be lower heating and energy bills, but also improved comfort and other qualitative aspects, such as noise and humidity insulation.

In order to assess the impact on user comfort, a survey and monitoring campaign was done in February 2017 as a baseline, and a second survey and monitoring campaign will now follow in February 2018, since the insulation works are now finished.

One of the 8 renovated building entrances. Source: IMHAB

District heating connection between Melon District and DistrictClima

Melon District

Melon District Marina is the biggest student residence in Barcelona with more than 500 rooms. Melon District has a privileged location in the city thanks to its situation near the one of the most innovative neighbourhood in Barcelona, named 22@, as well as being just ten minutes walking from the centre of Barcelona.

Before the refurbishment, HVAC installations consisted of electric heaters that satisfied the heat demand and a connection to the nearest district heating and cooling (DH&C), named DistrictClima, for cooling in the summer and for domestic hot water.

Collaboration Agreement

At the outset of GrowSmarter, two buildings (not in Melon District) were under consideration for connection to the district heating network. However, after energy pre-analyses and a first contact with the communities were done, these buildings were deemed unsuitable for the project. Finally, after a long period of searching, Melon District was identified and its participation in the project was accepted by the property management in July 2016. The agreement was a private-private collaboration between Melon District property and Gas Natural Fenosa (GNF).

Before the agreement between the student residence and GNF, Melon District had already planned a refurbishment of its building, though the heating system was not part of its initial refurbishment plans. But thanks to the European subsidy (via GrowSmarter) and the participation of Gas Natural Fenosa as an Energy Services Company (ESCO), the expansion of the initial scope of the refurbishment project was made possible.

GrowSmarter measures in Melon District

The refurbishment works carried out in the framework of GrowSmarter include connecting the heating installation to the nearest DH&C (DistrictClima) and installing a building energy management system (BEMs).

Work on the building started in August 2016 and finished in March 2017. Specifically, the refurbishments in Melon District were based on:

  • Connection to the DH&C: Before the refurbishment, the heating system in Melon District was based on electric heaters to supply the heat demand. After the refurbishment, all the electric heaters were disconnected and heat is instead provided DistrictClima. This connection to the district heating network, shown in the following pictures, allows to Melon District to considerably reduce its primary energy consumption thanks to replacing the use of electricity with the DH&C.



  • Building Energy Management System (BEMS): A new Building Energy Management System (BEMS) was installed in Melon District, which will provide relevant information about the energy consumption of the building. The BEMS allows the property managers to understand the energy impact of the students' habits and reduce consumption through the application of new control strategies. Furthermore, the BEMS will help Gas Natural Fenosa to develop new strategies to better respond to disturbances or stresses in the system.


A Home Energy Management System (HEMS) was also installed on one floor (B4) of the Melon building, which monitors the energy use of the four bedrooms and one kitchen on the floor. Thanks to the data gathered here, Gas Natural Fenosa will be able to disaggregate total consumption measured by the BEMs by each room and kitchen in Melon District.

Together, these measures are expected to reduce the primary energy consumption of the building by 38%.

Added value

All the measures and works carried out in Melon District were part of an Energy Services contract, through which the Energy Services Company (ESCO) guarantees energy savings to Melon District as well as the correct operation of all installations for the stipulated period, in exchange of an annual fee.

Moreover, thanks to the Gas Natural Fenosa’s background and its large range of different clients, the project carried out in Melon District will be easily replicable beyond what has been demonstrated in GrowSmarter, multiplying the beneficial impacts of the project.

Last but not least, all data obtained by BEMS and HEMS will be fundamental to assessing the energy savings guarantees, thus improving the know-how of Gas Natural Fenosa and allowing Melon District to be more self-sufficient in its energy consumption.

Action area 2: Integrated Infrastructures

Action area 2: Integrated Infrastructures

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here.

Smart solution 8: Big data management

In Measure 8.2, we have added data access and query functionality beyond what GrowSmarter proposes. Concretely, we can now query and cross data from more than one source, in this case from the GrowSmarter API and from other triple stores containing Barcelona urbanistic data (where data is in RDF/OWL format). This is a first step towards integrating Linked (Open) Data.

Discussed in this blog

Solution 3: Smart energy-saving tenants

Solution 6: Waste heat recovery

Solution 8: Big data management


Gonzalo Cabeza

Site Manager, Barcelona

For the previous blog post, click here

23 February 2018

Cologne Blog #8: Exchanging with tenants and sharing Cologne's experiences

With construction nearly completed in Stegerwaldsiedlung, we held an informational event with tenants in the newly renovated buildings and area. We've also been actively participating in a number of international events, sharing the experiences of the GrowSmarter project in Cologne with interested parties from all around Europe and the world.

GrowSmarter dissemination

Informational event for the Stegerwaldsiedlung tenants

As the construction work in the project site area Stegerwaldsiedlung is almost complete, the project management and partners believed that it was time to hold an informational event for the neighbourhood tenants to inform about the process and foster acceptance. As the tenants stayed in their apartments during construction time, burdens such as long road closures, lack of parking spaces, construction noise, etc. had to be endured.

The City of Cologne together with the project partners invited the Stegerwaldsiedlung tenants to an informational event on November 7th, 2017. The invitations were distributed to all households in the project area and were available in all social insti-tutions.

Poster announcing event

Informational event for the tenants. Photo: Uta Konopka

The aim of the informational event was to inform the tenants about the measures and the current state of the implementation, and to report on the perspectives that arise for the entire district of Mülheim. The event was supported by an external moderator and facilitated by the Community Reporter group (a group was founded to teach professional video shooting and then accompany projects they choose in Co-logne). More than 100 tenants attended the event.

Informational event for the tenants. Photo: Uta Konopka

The project management welcomed the attendees, explained the project goals, pre-sented the status of the implementation and pointed out the perspective until the end of the project and beyond. Most importantly, the team explained the benefits of the project for the tenants. Two City of Cologne employees (City Strategic Planning and Urban Development) reported on how the district of Mülheim will develop in the areas of local supply, mobility and construction. The tenants were invited to ask questions and express their wishes. Many questions asked were related to the status of the construction site, new heating system, the parking situation and how high future rents will be.

As a result of this meeting, the City together with the partners will send a letter summarising the event’s results. DEWOG already sent a detailed letter explaining the new heating system and the energy cost saving potential. At the end of the event, the tenants had the opportunity to get to know each other personally. The Community Reporters produced a video showing the event and subsequent interviews with some of the participants. You can view the video here (in German):

The next tenant informational event is planned for May 2018.

Study visit at the World Climate Conference COP 23

The World Climate Change Conference took place in Bonn from November 6 to 17. For more information please visit the official website.

COP23 provided an extensive framework program surrounding the main programme for the conference participants. The aim of this programme was to show the participants as many projects as possible in the field of local climate protection activities. Within this context, the GrowSmarter project partners offered a study visit to the Stegerwaldsiedlung. The The study visit, which took place on 13 November, was announced in a press release as well as in the COP23 event programme, which all attendees received.

Informational event for the tenants. Photo> Uta Konopka

The GrowSmarter team conducted the study visit at the Stegerwaldsiedlung in both German and English. 26 people participated in the study visit. The project management team explained the overarching GrowSmarter goals and the efforts in all three lighthouse cities. The local work-package leaders presented Cologne’s measures in energy, mobility and integrated infrastructure. During the neighbourhood tour, the participants were able to see the implementation of the measures first hand.

Study visit COP 23. Photo: Uta Konopka

The solutions related to energy retrofitting, energy management with the control of neighbourhood management and the mobility stations were of particular interest. Many questions came up, including which measures were particularly effective, the prospects for transferring the measures to other cities and how residents are in-volved. Participants were keen to continue the dialogue and to be kept informed about the project.

GrowSmarter at THERMOS conference in Brussels

This event took place at the Permanent Representation of Romania in Brussels on January 25th, 2018. It addressed the question of making integrated heating and cooling systems part of the backbone of Smart Cities and Communities, including concepts on local, open and affordable energy transition by providing state-of-the-art planning tools, solutions and insights.

Cologne was invited to speak on a panel, providing the city’s perspective on thermal optimisation and refurbishment in the framework of CELSIUS and GrowSmarter.

THERMOS conference. Photo: Julia Egenolf

THERMOS conference. Photo: ICLEI

GrowSmarter at the SmartCity Replication Workshop in Brussels

The SCC replication workshop titled ”Learning from the successful” took place in Brussels on January 26th, 2018 and focused on the question of how Lighthouse city Smart Solutions can be replicated in Follower Cities. How can stumbling blocks be overcome in order to achieve replication possibilities of Horizon 2020 projects and their solutions for Follower Cities? Three workshops, each held twice, were divided into 4-5 roundtables for the topics of energy, integrated infrastructure and mobility. The event saw more than 100 participants in the moderated workshops. Cologne moderated the mobility roundtable, and car-sharer provider Cambio gave information on setting up mobility stations, as has been done in Cologne. Cologne’s energy provider, RheinEnergie, participated in the roundtable on virtual power plants/energy management systems, including storage. Each roundtable discussion was facilitated by a moderator who introduced presenters from industrial and city partners. The sessions started with a presentation touching on the planning, implementation, technical evaluation, business model and the replication possibilities of specific solutions. The participants then had 40 minutes to discuss barriers and possibilities to replicate.

At the end of the workshops, the moderators summarised the key success factors and how to overcome the main obstacles.

SCC replication workshop. Photo: Julia Egenolf

Action Area 1: Low-Energy Districts

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here

The first construction phase has been completed and the evaluation began in January 2018, as planned. The remaining construction phases are scheduled to be completed by March 2018, after which their evaluation phase will also begin.

Both RheinEnergie AG and AGT international will send informational letters to all Stegerwaldsiedlung tenants until March and inform them about the possibility to have the Smart Home system installed for free. This will be done in up to 50 homes. If there are more interested tenants than expected, RheinEnergie will have to assign them by lot.

RheinEnergie AG was able to find a manufacturer who was prepared to equip its smart home system with an interface that enables AGT to collect and measure the required data (WP3). The system will be presented and demonstrated to the tenants in a workshop, where they can learn how to operate it in person and understand the advantages of the system. We intend to cover the first experiences with the system our the next blog update.

Action area 2: Integrated Infrastructures

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here

RheinEnergie was able to install three electric charging stations on existing street lighting poles. An existing WiFi grid connection hotspot is already in place at these locations.

Photo: RheinEnergie AG

The community driven project ”OpenAir Cologne” has made progress; in the past months, the website has been editorially revised and the project was presented at several different events.

OpenAir Cologne is a joint project of the Oklab Cologne, the City of Cologne, the TH (University of applied Sciences), the University of Cologne and the For-schungszentrum Jülich (research center). The project focuses on generating data, especially measurements of fine particulate matter, through environmental sensors. This project is the outcome of an idea from citizens, supported by science based institutions and initiated by the City of Cologne.

Data fine dust collected from environmental sensors. Photo: City of Cologne

The overall idea came about via “Citizen Science”, in which citizens and their ideas and perspectives are actively involved in governmental tasks. The objective is to connect citizens with their local public administration and to accelerate cooperation between the government and the inhabitants in the areas of Open Data, participation and citizen information. The greater purpose in this context is to enable an actual collaboration between citizens and the government.

The project is being implemented by collecting sensor data from volunteers and processing them for the community as Open Data, as well as to open them for discussion and to review their informational value. The goal is that the sensors will allow coverage of a large area in order to generate as much reliable information as possible. To support the project, the city offers different types of workshops, from soldering to understanding weather forecasts.

Given the current situation, OpenAir Cologne was able to set up 50 environmental sensors in the urban area of Cologne. Most importantly, it was possible to raise awareness and interest for the environment and to disseminate environmental topics amongst the public.

Model OpenAir Node Sensor Copyright City of Cologne

Action area 3: Sustainable Urban Mobility

To see all the measures to be implemented, click here

All ten planned mobility stations are now in place, in various sizes and with various combinations of partners. Three mobility stations will be equipped with e-bikes this month and next. Photos of the individual stations can also be found in our previous blog post.

Overview of Mobility Stations and partners involved

After overcoming some legal stumbling blocks for ampido locations in public spaces, the team has now been able to integrate this partner with the inclusion of some spe-cial clauses in the law. Ampido is equipping the Mobility Stations with parking spac-es that can be booked in advance. This system has so far only worked on private land and is now possible on public lands for the duration of the project or until city ordinances change. Ampido is represented at the Mobility Stations found in the map above. Some of the stations have already been shown in previous blogs. These photos show only ampido’s spaces, as they are the most recent additions.

Wiener Platz, right in the center of Mülheim at the “Stadthalle”, 5 parking spaces:

Jan-Wellem-Str, Copyright Ampido

Bergischer Ring, directly opposite the district town hall Mülheim, 2 parking spaces:

Bergischer Ring, Copyright Ampido

Bahnhof Mülheim, Montanusstrasse, close to the Mülheim train station, 2 parking spaces:

Montanusstrasse, Copyright Ampido

Mobilitystation Stegerwald neighborhood, 2 parking spaces:

Stegerwald neighborhood, Copyright Ampido

The mobility card: “MultiTicket”

The mobility partners in the project are convinced that better utilisation of Mobility Stations depends on their attractiveness. cambio CarSharing and KVB have there-fore developed a combined mobility card: the “MultiTicket”. With the MultiTicket all means of transport (bus, tram, car- and bike-sharing) can be used. It is a further de-velopment of the existing "JobTicket", a monthly ticket paid for by companies for their employees. All JobTicket users are now able to register with cambio in order to use their car-sharing cars. The cars themselves can be opened with the MultiTicket - no further card is needed. In addition to public transport, all MultiTicket users get a dis-count of 10% for car-sharing.

The MultiTicket, which became available in October 2017, offers virtual consolidation by bringing the various modes of transport to one place, which the Mobility Sta-tion does physically.


The introduction of the MultiTicket has not yet been promoted with a major press and advertising campaign. Still, the offer was very well received - almost 500 people have registered already, almost one third of the overall new cambio customers since October 2017. The use of the new Mobility Stations in the Mülheim project area has also increased. In the near future, further advertisement of the MultiTicket is planned in order to gain more customers and to make the Mobility Stations even more successful.

An example of the cambio CarSharing flyer advertisement can be seen below:

Advertising flyer page 1

Advertising flyer page 2

Discussed in this blog

Solution 1: Efficient and smart climate shell refurbishment

Solution 3: Smart energy-saving tenants

Solution 4: Smart local electricity management

Solution 11: Alternative fuel-driven vehicles

Solution 12: Smart mobility solutions

Barbara Moehlendick

Site Manager, Cologne

For the previous blog post, click here