Innovative EPCs features in Poland: testing results and replication potential

The focus of the Horizon 2020 project X-tendo is the further development of energy performance certificate (EPCs) schemes in EU Member States. After analysing the theoretical background, X-tendo focussed on testing its innovative features in concrete implementation projects. This series of blog post will help summarise the testing in each of the X-tendo 9 countries to understand the practical viability and the challenges in the implementation of the developed ideas and materials.

Depending on the feature, the X-tendo partners performed different types of tests: In-building tests apply the feature materials on concrete buildings, user tests consist of understanding the user perception related to the developed materials and ideas, system tests intend to understand the application of feature ideas and materials in related systems like EPC database systems.

The first country we write about is Poland, where our partner, the National Energy Conservation Agency (NAPE), tested outdoor air pollution, district energy and enhanced recommendations.

Features and buildings tested in Poland

Air pollution is one of the most important environmental risks to human health and is perceived as the second biggest environmental concern for Europeans after climate change. In 80% of cities in the EU with available data, the levels of pollution recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) have been exceeded. When tested in Poland, NAPE undertook an in-building test on multiple buildings and – as a user test – a survey of energy auditors

The Local Air Pollution Contributor Index (LAPCI), and the Indoor Air Purity Index (IAPI), both developed by X-tendo for measuring air pollution and increasing the awareness of building owners and users on the impact of their buildings on smog development as well as the air- filtration efficiency, were applied to both residential and non-residential buildings. LAPCI can make building owners or users take action to modernise their buildings, leading to diminished energy needs and/or less polluting energy sources, while the IAPI can persuade them to invest in mechanical ventilation with effective air filtration.

Poland (NAPE)
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Cultural center1920B

District Energy

District energy networks are an important pillar for low-carbon future heating and cooling. The related two sets of parameters developed by X-tendo respectively indicate the efficiency, the carbon content and the share of renewables of the nearest district heating grid to end-users and the two temperatures related to the building’s heat distribution system: supply and return flow temperatures. Tested in building, the two sets indicate the feasibility of the building being connected to a (low-temperature) network, thus providing important information for the potential future construction of efficient heat networks.

Enhanced Recommendations

The last feature tested in Poland with in-building- and system tests aims to demonstrate how to automatically provide enhanced recommendations in EPCs, mainly for building transactions (sell/buy/renovate), and how they can be linked to national long-term renovation and climate strategies. The enhanced recommendations methodology developed by X-tendo demonstrate a method to automatically generate useful EPC recommendations, extending the recommendations currently provided in EPC schemes. Although the proposed recommendations will improve the status quo, they cannot fully replace professional advice.

Summary of results from the testing

Air Pollution

The LAPCI feature was tested in Poland on 10 buildings with mixed types: 3 residential (2 multi-family, 1 residential/public building), 3 healthcare, 1 office, 1 cultural centre and 2 schools. The IAPI feature was instead tested on 1 residential (one-family) building in 6 different locations.

NAPE found it easy to implement the feature and to explain it to the assessors. All steps of the testing procedure were possible to perform, but there were some difficulties to determine the air pollution for the Indoor Air Purity Index in case that data was not available for a given location, i.e. when the building was far away from the nearest location with available data. The testing also revealed for the Local Air Pollution Contributor Index that sources based on the combustion of fuel oil receive a much worse rating than those based on gaseous fuel. The time for the calculation depends on the building size and documentation availability and was in a range of between 0.5 and 1.5 hours.

User tests were based on a survey with energy auditors. Out of the 31 responses, the majority had over 10 years of experience with EPCs and found the tools useful. In general, the guides and the tools seemed understandable for most of the respondents, which was reflected in the (relatively short amount of) time needed for the calculations. Most of the respondents used real EPC data for testing, while some used them at least partly, and only a few used fictional information.

District energy

This feature was tested on 13 buildings of different types: 7 residential buildings (4 multi-family houses, two single-family houses, one dormitory), one health-care building, two offices, one cultural centre and two technical buildings (workshop). The in-building testing showed that the district energy feature tool was easy to explain to the assessors and to use; however, there were some challenges in using the provided spreadsheet tool for the circumstances in their countries. In nearly all tested buildings the installed radiators differed to the radiators for which data was provided in the spreadsheet tool. Therefore, the IPs had to search for data on thermal transfer characteristics for the radiators in the tested buildings. For the first step in the testing procedure (Administration and data gathering) NAPE reported 60 minutes per building For the second step (Assessor evaluation including site visits and calculation with the spreadsheet tool) all IPs reported (up to) 60 minutes per building. In total EPC costs per building are estimated to increase around 50 EUR (NAPE).

Enhanced recommendations

The in-building test for the enhanced recommendations feature was tested on 10 residential (multi-family) buildings in 5 different locations around Poland: Warsaw, Wołomin, Piaseczno, Zwoleń and Ożarów Mazowiecki.

NAPE reported that they had issues during the Administration and Data collection phase, because not all data can be obtained from the building administrator. Also, sometimes some information was missing in the building documentation and it was not possible to check it. During the Evaluation of assessor step, they found that. ‘there are no national databases on modernization costs, all data has to be collected by yourself and it is time-consuming.’. Finally, during the Calculation with spreadsheet tool step, they reported that, ‘in some places of the tool there was a lack of, for example, hints on what to insert if there is no data in the documentation, the descriptions lacked a definition whether it was the efficiency of the entire system or, for example, only a heat source.’.

The time for the calculation of the system testing was between 6 and 8 hours, whereas the approximate costs was 10 EUR for the Administration/ Data collection and between 200 and 350 EUR for the calculation phase.

Replication potential and conclusions

Outdoor air pollution

As for the conclusions, the outdoor air pollution test showed that the calculations can be done regardless of the function of the building, technical system or energy source. Although most of the information needed for calculation of the LAPCI and IAPI are already gathered during EPC issuing, the lack of the outdoor air pollution measuring station in some regions could be an issue. The simplicity of the calculation and a graphical presentation of the results were well received by the test persons.

The replication potential of the outdoor air pollution feature is high as no specific country data were used in the calculation methodology. The reference values in the calculation tool can be adapted to country specific data if needed. Also the cost of the implementation of this feature into national EPC system is low as it can be done by EPC software provider. The additional workload in most of the cases will not be higher from the standard time of data collection and EPC calculation performing by energy auditor. As a future direction for testing the recommendation could be piloting at scale with building owners.

District heating

Test of the district heating feature shown that despite a simple calculation tool some additional data regarding a heating element within installation are needed. A development of a database of such elements would be very problematic due to large number of radiators types and different parameters of installation operation. It was noticed that the results given from a tool shows rather the potential of changes, and not exact results. Nevertheless NAPE found it useful, especially for the future, low-temperature energy sources.

The calculation methodology has some limitation, like taking into account only space heating installation with water supplied radiators. However it can be used for any type of a building and existing energy source. The tool doesn’t have to be adapted to national regulations and it might be adapted without any changes into all EU members states. Therefore the replication potential of the district heating feature was assessed rather as high.

Enhanced recommendations

When testing the enhanced recommendations features, NAPE reported that they had issues during the Administration and data collection phase, as not all data could be obtained from the building administrator. However, providing recommendations and economic effectiveness of modernization projects is a very important element for EPC recipients. The recommendations are an important guideline on how and at what cost the EPC can be improved. The results obtained from the feature tool are in line with the results from the full energy audit documentation. The recommended measures in most of the cases were the same. It can be concluded that the energy results are more accurate in the full energy audit procedure but at the same time the procedure used for calculation is more time consuming.

The renovation recommendation are not always given in EPC issued in Poland. The functionality that allow for an automatic generation of the recommendations will improve the quality of the EPC and may increase the building owner awareness of possible modernization. The calculation tool can be supplied in data from existing EPC and the calculation methodology is independent from a national building regulation. Therefore there are no barriers for easily implementation of the tool in all EU member countries.

More information feature by feature can be found at this link


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