DREEAM: Demonstrating an integrated Renovation approach for Energy Efficiency At the Multi-building scale


Energy efficient renovations in the built sector are key to reducing energy consumption in the coming years. This is because around 80% of the global building stock of 2050 has already been constructed and many of these buildings have very poor energy performance.

However, the present renovation rates are insufficient to meet the EU targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the residential sector. In addition, current renovation approaches are limited in their scope, focusing on single building and single technology. This hinders the deployment of interconnected renewable energy systems and potential financial benefits from large scale interventions. Typically, between 10-40% energy demand reduction result from standard renovation approaches.

DREEAM aims to show that renovating at a larger scale opens the opportunity for a better integration of renewable energy and is generally more cost effective. The project demonstrates a multi-building and single owner renovation approach that can achieve a 75% reduction of total energy demand.

The core of DREEAM is to identify optimal combinations of technologies, which a) can deliver highest energy reduction for a set of buildings, while at the same time, b) taking into consideration building owners’ financial capacity and the preferences of tenants. The project considers interconnected energy systems including a range of energy demand reduction, renewable energy generation, energy storage and dynamic control.

DREEAM focuses on social and public housing (representing 12% of the EU building stock), whose owners manage large portfolios of residential buildings with high potential for energy performance improvements. In such environment, the economies of scale can be best validated. On the one side, many activities and technologies become cheaper per unit. On the other side, smart energy management systems work best in connected systems.

The DREEAM approach is implemented on pilot sites in the UK, Sweden and Italy. These demonstration sites are to validate the DREEAM method in different climate, cultural and institutional configurations. In parallel, DREEAM develops replicable concepts throughout Europe, focusing on large scale financing and multi-year tendering.

The DREEAM activities

1 – Develop multi-building renovation solutions

The initial phase of the project aims to develop an approach to evaluate and provide a decision support tool for building renovation strategies. In optimising the balance between energy efficiency and renewable energy supply, DREEAM considers a broad scope of technologies within the domains of energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, energy storage, and building management systems.

Considering such a wide range of technology options supports determining and selecting pareto-optimal technology configurations and packages in different building architectures and regions. This approach aims to further encourage the use of technologies that might otherwise not be considered by building owners and renovation design engineers.

2 – Integrate Smart Energy Management Systems

DREEAM aims to demonstrate hardware and information interconnections within packages of technologies. In order to achieve this, DREEAM focuses on developing interconnections between currently state of the art systems that have never before been demonstrated together in a real life operational environment (i.e. overall system TRL 5 to TRL 7). In particular DREEAM aims to develop an innovative approach for optimising interconnected energy systems by deploying machine learning building management systems.

3 – Renovate over 300 dwellings

The DREEAM approach is being demonstrated in real renovation projects by applying the recommended energy system combinations. These renovation strategies take into account several aspects such as the building owners’ investment strategies, financial standpoint and social considerations. With support from the project partners, the building owners aim to tender the renovation works, which will be performed by constructions companies.

Assessing and monitoring the energy performance of the pilot sites is done throughout the complete project. Monitoring the energy performance at the different pilot sites is a key element as the outcomes feed into the requirements of the monitoring tool, a comprehensive platform for building owners to monitor and control the energy performance for their portfolios of buildings.

The three pilots sites are Padiham (United Kingdom), Treviso (Italy) and Berlin (Germany). Over 300 dwelling are tested.

4 – Support uptake across Europe

One of the project ambitions is to replicate the DREEAM outcomes beyond the pilot sites, at least to 15 locations across Europe. Through a EU multi-city replication programme, the project performs feasibility scans and applies the DREEAM approach in order to update renovation strategies towards Near Zero Energy standards. The aim is to inform decision-making actors, such as cities and social housing owners, of potential renovation options and optimisation potential in the energy renovations through attractive financial packages.