Created as part of an EU-funded project, the Matrycs digital toolbox is translating huge volumes of data collected from social housing in order to improve the energy efficiency of homes, extend the lifecycle of buildings, boost energy performance and make policymaking more comprehensive.
Relying on existing technologies such as machine learning, deep learning and big data, this fresh look at building data is expected to have a significant impact on energy efficiency and help the social housing sector across Europe to ride the EU ‘renovation wave’.
For almost three years, engineers and researchers from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) have been working on a free open-source tool and made use of over 4,000 renovation records sourced from the De-Risking Energy Efficiency Platform (DEEP, which contains energy-efficiency investments in Europe through existing projects in buildings and industry). The final goal is to forecast future energy production and domestic consumption alongside anticipating maintenance needs and energy management actions.
Housing providers in Europe are now testing the beta version of Matrycs to see how it could help them to evaluate the impact of investing in new builds or renovations and compare actual energy savings from different types of buildings and varied energy-efficiency measures. A large chunk of the data comes from France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Latvia and Bulgaria, but also from the United Kingdom and the United States.
The possible interventions vary greatly. For example, if an Austrian housing provider would like to renovate its heating or cooling systems, it might consider automating its boilers, completely renewing them, insulating its pipes or optimising its heating distribution systems. It could take an extra step and run simulations for recovering waste heat, introducing the use of heat pumps, insulating walls and roofs, moving to LED lighting or introducing movement sensors in specific areas. Based on its specific needs, the Austrian housing provider could get an almost-instant understanding of the cost of the intervention(s), the pay-back period and the net annual savings.
Alternatively, a housing provider in The Netherlands could enter its total budget into the Matrycs planner and receive an optimal portfolio of energy-efficiency investments, supported by detailed charts, uncertainty analytics and portfolio variations.
Pilot projects across Europe
Since 2020, 11 large-scale Matrycs pilot projects have been run in multiple European countries, including Slovenia, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Poland and Latvia. For example, as the voice of European social housing providers in Brussels, Housing Europe is collaborating with Alokabide (a Basque housing company) and the University of the Basque Country to ensure that all data collected from its building before and after renovation will be processed to assess the accuracy of EU’s impact analysis and refurbishment in the long term. A pilot in Latvia is focusing on de-risking energy-efficiency investments, while work in Poland aims at implementing data-driven services for one-stop-shops. A Slovenian demo is taking care of building operations, Portugal is boosting the management of energy communities, and in Spain, one of the ambitions is to optimise the operation of a district heating network.
Massive amounts of data
The use of more than 350Tb of data and 60 different data sources are surely becoming a challenge as data is in constant motion and its forms vary, the data volume is excessive, and ensuring reliability is as difficult as it is important. Matrycs takes data privacy very seriously and follows strict rules so that user data is fully protected and confidential.
We’re now in the final stages of the Matrycs project, with all of the results and benefits starting to materialise. Later this year we will know whether our approach to big data can give European housing providers the bigger picture they need to revamp their homes so that they are decent, climate-friendly, long-lasting and affordable.
Diana Yordanova is the communications director at Housing Europe.