Following the Paris Conference in 2015, several EU Member States, including Luxembourg, committed themselves to achieving carbon neutrality (in other words, not emitting more CO2 than they consume) by 2050.
However, according to a study recently published by the United Nations, efforts made so far are not enough, particularly in the building sector, which alone accounts for almost 40% of global CO2 emissions!
So how can we reduce the carbon footprint of our buildings?
This is the question LIST researchers and their counterparts from Cardiff University have been asking themselves. Launched in 2020, the SemanticLCA project has been supported by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in the UK.
"The notion of compromise is important here – considering the progress made in energy performance over the past few years, we wanted to develop a method capable of reducing the environmental impact of our buildings, while preserving the health and well-being of its occupants," explains Sylvain Kubicki, a researcher at LIST.
While designing a building generally gives us a lot of latitude, once certain choices have been made (on the type of heating to be used or the choice of joinery for instance), it is difficult to go back.
Therefore, Sylvain's multidisciplinary team has looked into Dynamic Life Cycle Assessment (DLCA) to optimise our buildings throughout their life cycle and therefore combine "health, energy and comfort".
By screening the information provided upstream by architects and builders, in the form of digital mock-ups (BIM), and in real time by the sensors deployed in the building (on occupancy, indoor and outdoor air quality, home automation systems, etc.), LIST researchers are trying to provide personalised recommendations to the occupants, such as “open the windows” or “lower the blinds”.
A prototype of a building management tool should soon be available, demonstrating therefore, the capacity of interaction between a building and its users. "This is an essential point for developing the smart building concept in the coming years," confides Sylvain.
In addition, there is no lack of scientific perspective. To complete the data, and therefore refine the life cycle analysis of our buildings and neighbourhoods, Sylvain's team will use machine learning.
Life cycle analysis is therefore a great tool for urban policy and property management – it can be used not only to assess the energy performance of a construction or renovation project, but also to sustainably manage buildings and districts.