The Irish Institute of Digital Business at Dublin City University will lead the business research on a €4.8 million EU project to tackle the issue of energy efficiency in EU residential buildings, it has been announced.

The four-year project called RINNO will focus on developing solutions for the construction industry to accelerate (triple) the rate of deep renovation in energy inefficient buildings around Europe, and thereby contribute to reaching the target of 32.5% in energy savings set by the EU Green New Deal.

It will achieve this through a combination of novel and innovative technologies, processes and business models including new materials, assembly using robots and cobots, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and blockchain-enabled crowd equity funding. 

Thermal inefficiency

Approximately 77% of the EU residential buildings were constructed before 1990 and circa 11% of Europe’s population still experiences energy poverty due to poor building quality, and in particular, thermal inefficiency. 

The European Commission estimates that a renovation rate of 3% annually is needed to accomplish the EU’s energy efficiency and environmental ambitions in a cost-effective manner. Based on current renovation rates of 0.4% - 1.2% depending on the country, it could take more than 100 years to renovate all the EU building stock. 

Funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, RINNO is a radical approach to reduce the costs, disturbance, and renovation times of deep renovation while increasing energy efficiency, environmental performance, and occupant satisfaction.

Professor Theo Lynn, professor of digital business at DCU Business School, said: “RINNO is a project that reflects the convergence of two major trends, digital transformation and the circular economy. As part of the project, we will be examining how new construction processes and digital technologies together can deliver accelerated step changes in energy efficiency through deep renovation of European building stock.” 

Exploit new opportunities

“The know-how generated can help Irish construction companies exploit new opportunities in Ireland and internationally, through the exploitation of new processes, technologies, and business models, while also helping Ireland meet its climate change targets.”

Professor Anne Sinnott, executive dean of DCU Business School, said: “This project continues DCU Business School’s strong track record of winning multi-disciplinary research funding through Horizon 2020. 

"I am particularly buoyed by the focus of this project on two pillars of the Irish economy, ICT and construction. This project can make a real impact on the international competitiveness of Irish construction companies and create revenue opportunities for Irish firms in the EU.”

Arianna Amati, the coordinator of RINNO at Rina Consulting, said: “RINNO is a great opportunity to support the construction industry to accelerate the rate of deep renovation in energy inefficient buildings and to showcase the strengths and the tremendous contributions of Europe for and with users.”