An EU-funded project, A2PBEER is currently testing energy-saving solutions designed to reduce energy use in public buildings in Europe.

Public buildings in Europe are often older and less efficient than buildings constructed today; in fact, constructions predating 1980 account for about 95 per cent of energy consumed by buildings, making them the perfect target for retrofitting energy-saving solutions that will help reduce this wasteful consumption.

The A2PBEER (Affordable and Adaptable Public Buildings through Energy Efficient Retrofitting) project is developing a new approach to renovate public buildings by combining established building solutions with advanced, innovative solutions.

Partly funded by the EU’s 7th Framework Programme, A2PBEER is a four-year research effort that seeks to address the issue of energy efficient retrofitting as a means of reaching the EU’s 20-20-20 energy targets with objectives including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, raising the share of energy produced by renewable sources and improving energy efficiency, all by 20 per cent by 2020.

Some of these solutions include windows that warm a building in the winter and cool it in the summer; devices that bring sunlight into darkened rooms; and solar collectors that provide heat and cold for 15 years using metal tubes with no moving parts and filled only with inert materials.

Researchers working on the A2PBEER project aim to demonstrate how it is possible to cost-effectively reduce energy use in existing public buildings by 50 per cent. The project will prove that the requirements to make buildings nearly-zero energy can be achieved in public buildings by using affordable and adaptable solutions already available on the market.

Three demonstration buildings in Malmo, Bilbao and Ankara have been retrofitted with new building envelopes featuring vacuum insulation panels and integrated with various ventilated facade solutions, smart windows solutions, smart lighting solutions and solar thermal heat pumps. Developed by A2PBEER project partners, these four technologies are already available on the market. Retrofitting kits have been developed by combining a variety of these technologies to suit each building’s unique requirements.

Once installed, the solutions will be validated by a complex monitoring system that measures indoor and outdoor conditions as well as the energy consumption of the buildings before and after retrofitting.

A highlight of the A2PBEER project is the Train the Trainer initiative wherein an online course and training workshops using the project's support tool will be made available to assist building owners in the best-practice approach to retrofitting, taking into account climate, building fabric, available technologies and financial constraints. This will ensure that the methodology for applying energy-saving solutions are replicated and used by all key players.

A new film made by Insight Publishers explains how the A2PBEER project is setting about this ambitious programme: