Use case "EPC4EU - Harmonisation of datasets of Energy Performance Certificates of buildings across Europe"

Back to Energy & Location Applications

Banner

This section reports the activities related to two use cases closely connected and both having the same aim, but executed within two different collaboration agreements: the first one was executed in collaboration with APRIE and aimed at harmonising EPCs in Italy, whilst the second one was executed in collaboration with CARTIF Foundation and EREN, and re-used the results obtained in the first one to harmonise EPCs in Spain, paving the road for an EPC data model usable across EU.

In the following sections we provide more information on the use case "EPC4EU - Harmonisation of datasets of Energy Performance Certificates of buildings across Europe".

Objectives

Design, implement and test an EPC data model reusable across EU to harmonise heterogeneous EPC datasets produced at national/regional level.

Problems addressed

EPC datasets contain location data related to energy consumption and energy efficiency, which are at the same time semantically rich and spatially detailed (at building level). Therefore, they contribute to improve considerably the data accuracy at local level, which is explicitly required by the energy efficiency policy instruments, aiming to overcome the current limitations of using top-down statistical approaches for energy efficiency assessments at local level. In addition, used in combination with scale-up methodologies from building to district, city, regional up to national level, EPC datasets may represent a solid knowledge base to support the whole lifecycle of the energy policies, from planning to implementation, reporting and monitoring.

In the policy context described above, it is important to highlight the need for harmonisation of EPC datasets at EU level:

  • the importance of having a centralised EPC database at EU level in order to monitor the energy performance of buildings, given the impact of EPCs on the real estate market;
  • EPCs are not equally defined in all the Member States, and there is the need to adopt a standardised approach across Europe, to facilitate independent control systems and provide a tool to map and monitor the EU building stock.

Partners

  • APRIE (IT)
  • CARTIF Foundation (ES)
  • EREN (ES)

Main steps

In the figure below the workflow executed to harmonise the EPC dataset in Italy is shown. The entire process is described in detail in the Technical Report "INSPIRE Harmonisation of existing Energy Performance Certificate datasets". Additional activities have been carried out on the harmonised dataset, consisting in the creation of its metadata and of its download service as an Atom implementation according to the INSPIRE Technical Guidelines. The harmonised dataset is discoverable in the Italian National Catalogue of Geospatial Data, in the Italian National Catalogue of Open Data and in the European Data Portal.

Workflow to harmonise EPC datasets in Italy
Workflow to harmonise EPC datasets in Italy

The re-use in Spain of the results of the use case executed in Italy has been broken down into the following steps:

  • Step 1, in which a new target data model, named EPC4EU, capable to harmonise EPC datasets of Italy and Spain, has been created. Most importantly, the same methodology can be easily re-used to generate further versions of the EPC4EU data model, capable to harmonise EPC datasets from other EU MS.
  • Step 2, in which a subset of real EPC datasets in Castilla y León has been harmonised according to the target data model EPC4EU. A series of difficulties encountered during the transformation process have been described in detail, together with the corresponding solutions adopted, including practical suggestions on how to properly visualise the harmonised data in QGIS, focusing on aspects related to the thematisation of the EPC labels.
  • Step 3, in which a web application capable to make accessible the harmonised dataset to non GIS experts has been developed. A first prototype of the web application realised in 2017 has been analysed, adapted and re-used in order to make simultaneously accessible sample EPC datasets of Spain and Italy. The issues encountered in the web app adaptation, required by some differences present in the content and in the properties of the two datasets, and the related solutions adopted, have been extensively documented, in order to be re-used in the context of possible future web app extensions.

Results

A methodology to create a new version of the EPC4EU data model capable to harmonise EPC datasets of Spain and Italy, starting from a previous version of the EPC4EU data model developed in another use case to harmonise EPC datasets adhering to the Italian data model for EPC, has been developed and applied.

The methodology has been designed in order to be easily re-used to generate further versions of the EPC4EU data model, capable to harmonise EPC datasets from other EU MS adhering to different EPC data models, as schematically shown in the figure below. In this figure, the ellipses represent the source EPC data models, which are different for each Member State, but share a minimum set of elements, constituting the EPC4EU data model, built as an extension of the INSPIRE Building 2D Core data model.

EPC4EU
EPC4EU

The data transformation process of a real EPC dataset consisting of a sample of the EPC register of CyL region, using the updated version of the “EPC4EU” target data model developed in the Step 1 of the use case, has been successfully executed and a valid harmonised gml 3.2.1 file has been obtained.

A series of difficulties encountered during the transformation process have been described in detail, together with the corresponding solutions adopted, distinguishing between two types of issues: those encountered when filling the information related to the Building and BuildingPart feature types and those encountered during the transformation process itself.

Moreover, practical suggestions on how to properly visualise the harmonised data in QGIS have been provided, focusing on aspects related to the thematisation of the EPC labels.

It is worth to highlight that both the solutions provided to overcome the obstacles encountered during the transformation process and the suggestions provided to properly visualise the harmonised data in QGIS, being fully re-usable in similar data transformation/visualisation contexts, can effectively support other actors facing similar issues.

Finally, the objective to make accessible by non-GIS experts heterogeneous EPC datasets coming from different sources and harmonised according to the common EPC4EU data model has been achieved, by means of a web application accessible through a simple browser.

A first prototype of the web application realised in 2017 has been analysed, adapted and re-used in order to make simultaneously accessible sample EPC datasets of Spain and Italy.

Web application landing page
Web application landing page

Clicking on a building for which an EPC is available, a pop-up with four main parameters and the related values shows up, facilitating the EPC data usability by non-GIS experts.

Web application, zoom in Valladolid, Castilla y León (ES)
Web application, zoom in Valladolid, Castilla y León (ES)

The issues encountered in the web app adaptation, required by some differences present in the content and in the properties of the two datasets, and the related solutions adopted, have been extensively documented, in order to be re-used in the context of possible future web app extensions.

In conclusion, regarding the re-usability in other Member States of the EPC4EU methodology presented in this report, the following lessons have been learnt:

  • One of the main problems encountered to adapt the EPC4EU target data model to the Spanish EPC scheme was the terminology used. Although the EPCs of both countries (ES and IT) are based on the EPBD, the names of the different parameters contained in the EPCs do not always match precisely or do not always refer exactly to the same element or to the same units. In addition, the issue related to the different language issue has to be taken also into account. It was therefore necessary to study both models carefully in order to perform the adaptation. These particularities were also seen in the different codelists, which had to be adapted due to the particularities of the EPC in the different countries.
  • Another important problem was the lack of geo-localized information present in the Spanish EPC. This problem was solved by combining the information from the EPCs with information from the Spanish cadastre, which, thanks to its adherence to INSPIRE, helped to fill in other information in the target model not found in the original Spanish EPC.

It is also worth to highlight the obligatory (or optional) nature of filling in some sections in the different EPCs. This obligation did not always refer to the same elements for the different models, so it was necessary to analyse it and change the cardinality of some elements accordingly.

Benefits

Accessing harmonised EPC datasets produces different benefits for each of the three different groups of stakeholders involved in energy efficiency policies: the government sector, the business sector and the consumers sector.

Government sector:

  • Energy policy makers at regional or local level can take decisions in a more efficient and effective way, because they can be supported by geospatial information contained in the EPC datasets which is complete, accurate, readily available and easily accessible.
  • Organisations responsible for the maintenance of EPC registers can save time required to ensure updating of and accessibility to the registers by the end users, because the data harmonisation workflows may speed-up the insertion of new EPC records in the registers as well as the usability of EPC data.
  • Local authorities which are CoM signatories can be supported during the compilation of their Baseline Emission Inventories, because they could validate their emissions on the building sector, based on detailed and accurate geospatial information contained in the EPC datasets.
  • Energy policy makers at national and EU level can be supported by geospatial information contained in the EPC datasets which is harmonised and interoperable across countries and regions.

Business sector:

  • Private players working in the sector of buildings renovation to improve the buildings energy performance, as well as energy auditors, can increase their competitiveness, because they can perform marketing analyses and strategies (e.g. identifying potential customers in a specific geographical area, interested to acquire their services) based on harmonised and interoperable geospatial information contained in the EPC datasets and related to buildings potentially needing their intervention.

Consumers sector:

  • Citizens willing to buy/rent a building can be supported by the availability of detailed geospatial information contained in the EPC datasets and related to the energy performance of the building they are willing to buy/rent.

As a concrete example of multiple benefits simultaneously achievable by all the stakeholder groups above described, it is worth mentioning the case of an Italian regional authority, which published a tender, restricted to small municipalities, providing funds to renovate their building stock. It is evident that the availability of a harmonised EPC datasets would facilitate the whole process, from an easier identification of buildings with low energy performance by the tendering regional authority as well as by the municipalities acting as intermediate direct beneficiaries, to business sector as intermediate indirect beneficiaries, to citizens as final beneficiaries.

Resources