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Smart and sustainable buildings

The built environment sector is a major actor in relation to energy utilization and emissions.

Buildings are responsible for uses of 40 % of all raw materials, 30 - 40 % of the total energy usage; generate nearly 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions, and 40 % of the produced waste in the world. Along with all these “usages”, it also accounts for 50 % of the assets of society, buildings have a very long expected life time, and we spend around 90 % of our life inside a building. In addition, according to IEA the “[…] energy savings potential is massive” that are missed.

Significant savings may thus be achieved by introducing sustainable buildings, which encompasses smart buildings within a smart city. Buildings serve a purpose to maintain a comfortable indoor environment for the occupants. This purpose may be achieved by different means, enabling transforming technologies and solutions. Hence, design of cities areas consisting of a diversity of buildings may unlock some of the above mention missed potential.

In the last ten years, the European union have imposed new regulations that forces the member nations to take actions related to energy performance in buildings. This is driving the demand to reduce energy use in existing buildings and to produce much more energy efficient new buildings. This have led to the demand to develop new strategies, system solution and products.

Hence, studies concerning “production” units of energy (i.e. they convert energy), distribution of energy within the city and building, and end use of energy are all relevant topics within this area.

Research with this key area, as may be understood, is wide and may contain many of the topics covered by the division.

The research conducted in this area cover:

  • Thermal comfort and indoor air quality
  • User behavior and human experience in buildings
  • HVAC and building physics


A non-exhaustive list of research projects conducted within the field are:

  • Ground source heat pump systems
    • Model development of ground response for heat extraction and injections.
    • Combined heat pump system involving more than one energy source.
    • Development of geothermal borehole fields for energy efficiency.
  • Supermarket systems selections
    • Analysis of integrated performance of supermarkets.
  • Heat recovery
    • Heat recovery from waste water in the built environment.
    • Ventilation heat recovery for combined with heat pumps.
  • Building distribution system
    • Avoiding legionella in tap water installations.
    • Drain pipe performance in modern multi-family buildings.
  • Smart buildings
    • KTH Live-in Lab
    • Open database for building performance from measurements
    • Distributed Sensing Lab
    • Map knowledge required for operate and maintain smart buildings
    • Mapping feasibility and cost effectiveness in reality by smart buildings with intensive ICT-solutions
    • Real-time thermal comfort questionnaire in student apartments
    • Service layer design for pro-environmental behavior in the built environment
    • Ensuring sustainability and equality of water and energy systems during actor-driven disruptive innovation
    • Ethical and legal aspects of "smart houses"

Accelerating innovation in buildings

The research aims at identifying and overcoming problem areas that hinders innovation in the built environment. Also whether current governance structures regarding planning, production and operation of buildings promote change and innovation.

Building state-of-the-art (SotA) supermarket: Putting theory into practice

This project will apply the knowledge accumulated through the research in supermarket energy systems by building a unique demonstration case study is built where today’s most efficient, environmentally friendly and cost-effective supermarket will be designed, installed, monitored, thoroughly evaluated, and well documented.

Cooperation between Supermarkets and Real Estate Owners; Energy Efficiency and Business Models

The overall aim of the project is to demonstrate, using theoretical calculations, modelling, energy measurements, monitoring and business model evaluation, that a collaboration for efficient use of heating, cooling and air conditioning between real estate and supermarkets owners can be achievable for both parties.

Cost- and Energy-Efficient Control Systems for Buildings

This project exploits high resolution data gathered in KTH Live-in Lab research test-beds through an advanced, modular and flexible monitoring set-up capable to acquire real-time data on indoor environmental quality and the involved energy flows including ground source heat pumps, photovoltaic panels, ventilation. It will provide an assessment of the inefficient energy use of common faulty systems and guidelines for cost-optimal design and for implementation of building monitoring and control systems.

Creating and Understanding Smart Innovation in Cities

This project aims to identify the key factors regarding Cleantech innovation creation and the understanding in how the innovation process for Cleantech works in an urban environment.

Data driven lab for building energy systems

A database, which contains operation data from more than 4000 heat pump installations throughout Sweden, can be potentially exploited by end user applications to allow manufacturers, utilities, customers or third parties to perform data monitoring and analysis. However the database suffers from incompleteness, inconsistency, lack of accuracy or sensor calibration issues. To appropriately utilize the database, we will integrate other sources such as models and lab measurements to turn the low quality data into useful information. We will develop a data-driven lab which will act as a virtual platform to improve the control strategies, fault detection and performance degradation.  

Digitalization and IoT technologies for Heat Pump systems

In the last decades digital technologies became widely used in energy end-use sectors and digital solutions have been driving dramatic changes in the society. In the years to come, Heat Pumps will become connected devices
participating in the Internet of Things (IoT).

PARMENIDES – Plug & plAy EneRgy ManagEmeNt for hybriD Energy Storage

Hybrid energy storage systems (HESS) are responding to the evolving nature of energy systems and have the potential of enabling greater flexibility in energy communities (EC). Understanding and leveraging EC members’ energy-related behaviors, preferences, and constraints can enhance this potential. The PARMENIDES Project aims to develop an interoperable and secure ontology-based Energy Management System for HESS (EMS4HESS) suited for ECs with energy storage technologies, with a focus on the electricity and heating domain, so they can offer flexibility services to the grid, while finding a balance between stakeholders’ individual and collective objectives.

Situation of Opportunity in the Growth and Change of three Stockholm City Districts (completed)

Situation of Opportunity in the Growth and Change of three Stockholm City Districts – everyday life, built environment and transport explored as Energy Usage Systems (EUS) and Governance Networks

Solar photovoltaic systems in Swedish cooperative housing (completed)

Rapid declines in the cost of solar photovoltaic modules have made rooftop mounted systems economically interesting in Sweden, especially large scale systems for multi-family housing. This project seeks to understand how solar PV can technically and economically integrate into the residential cooperative's energy system.

Sustainable combined systems for heating of buildings (completed)

Toward Sustainable (Fossil-free) Heating System in Small Residential Buildings

As a growing technology, the number of installed heat pumps in Europe was increased by 60% between 2014 and 2018, and European Heat Pump Association expects a doubling in the heat pump market by 2024. It is therefore a high priority to further increase the share of renewable sources in the heat pump’s configuration to increase the potential of energy savings and to reduce the greenhouse gas emission. The goal of this project is to study the performance of the PVT-assisted GSHP in new- and retrofitted single-family houses.

Wuxi Sino-Swedish Eco-City Project (completed)

The project aims at investigating the energy system and innovation process for an upcoming EcoCity in China.

With a growth in urbanization, cities are expected to be at the heart of future innovation in energy efficiency. Wuxi Sino-Swedish EcoCity is a unique project, spanning over an area of 2.4 km 2. The project served to showcase different technological solutions in the area of energy efficiency and sustainability that can be used as a hotbed for innovation development and large-scale implementation.

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