Policy & Projects

Policy & Projects

IEA EBC participant profiles

The IEA EBC includes passionate professionals, or efficiency leaders, from across borders, disciplines and perspectives. But what all of these efficiency leaders have in common is their commitment to advancing energy efficiency in buildings and communities.

IEA EBC participants profiles exist to introduce you to these passionate professionals, and to introduce you to the work of the IEA EBC to which they contribute. You can find profiles on:

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Dr Sara Omrani, Queensland University of Technology's Faculty of Engineering in the School of Architecture & Built Environment

What is your name and title(s)?

Dr Sara Omrani, Senior Lecturer in Virtual Design & Construction. I sit within the Faculty of Engineering in the School of Architecture & Built Environment at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). 

Which IEA EBC annex are you involved in?

IEA EBC Annex 87: Energy and Indoor Environmental Quality Performance of Personalised Environmental Control Systems. The objective of this project is to establish design criteria and operation guidelines for PECS and to quantify the benefits regarding health, comfort and energy performance.

Can you explain your role?

Briefly put, my role as an academic involves teaching, research, and leadership. 

What did you do prior to your current role?

My undergraduate degree is in Architectural Engineering and prior to starting a PhD, I was working as an architect. After my PhD and before joining QUT as a full-time academic, I worked as an energy efficiency engineer for a brief period. 

What is the role of organisation in the energy transition, both at home and abroad?

At QUT we have different groups working on the topic of the energy transition from generation aspects to energy efficient design of buildings. The majority of these groups have strong ties to the industry that results in the realisation of the outcome of the research. 

QUT also has strong research collaboration with international institutions in these areas.

Could you explain your involvement in the IEA EBC and the value of the program?

I am involved in IEA EBC Annex 87 in subtask D. In this task groups we look at indoor environmental quality and energy evaluation for personalised environmental control systems.

I have found IEA EBC program very valuable from various aspects. Working with experts across the globe who deeply care about the issues related to energy is invaluable from both perspectives of knowledge sharing and personal development. To me, being part of a group of experts and contributing to a greater cause is both meaningful and satisfactory. This program also facilitates knowledge sharing and best practice in different regions of the world.  

How do you champion energy efficiency in your home? Do you now work from home, and if so, what do you enjoy about working from home?

I am very conscious about energy usage at my residence. I practice this at both energy efficiency and conservation levels. In terms of efficiency, I opt-in for more energy efficient appliances, and for conservation I resort to passive means as much as possible by adjusting my environment in terms of natural lighting and ventilation.  

We don’t have solar panels since I live in an apartment. But that is something I would certainly take advantage of if I shift to a house. 

I mainly work from my office as I like the face-to-face interaction with my colleagues and students. Since I live close to the campus, commute is not an issue for me.  

What are your thoughts on the current state of the energy transition?

There are lots of good initiatives by the government which is a promising step. I can personally see an increase in the general public’s awareness about energy usage which to me shows something is working right. Having said that, we still have lots to do to reach where we should be. 

Professor Greg Foliente, University of Melbourne's Department of Infrastructure Engineering, Faculty of Engineering & Information Technology

Professor Greg Foliente is an Australian representative of Annex 72, Assessing Life Cycle Related Environmental Impacts Caused by Buildings

Can you explain your various roles?

I am an Enterprise Professor in Sustainable and Resilient Built Environment in the Department of Infrastructure Engineering, Faculty of Engineering & Information Technology at the University of Melbourne. I lead research, teaching and external stakeholder engagement in systems-based interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches – integrating technical domain knowledge with emerging digital and geospatial technologies and developments in social and environmental sciences – to climate mitigation and adaptation, safety, resilience and sustainability of the built environment, energy systems and urban and infrastructure systems. Amongst other things, I was the academic lead in exploring and modelling the university’s campus energy efficiency retrofit and decarbonisation options – as part of the university’s Sustainability Plan, working with colleagues in the faculty, and lead-personnel from the University Services and Chancellery – across all its buildings.

I am also currently the President and Chair of the Board of Directors for the non-profit International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment (iiSBE), a Senior International Expert for the Global Buildings Performance Network (GBPN), and the Director of my international consulting company nBLue Pty Ltd.

What did you do prior to your current role?

Before joining the University of Melbourne, I worked at CSIRO for over two decades, leading, developing and managing numerous major research programs. This included establishing and delivering CSIRO’s research and innovation program on future built environment and infrastructure systems, smart grids, sustainable and resilient cities, and climate adaptation, amongst others.

For example, I led the Australian Net-Zero Emission House (AusZEH) project that delivered two demonstration houses (new and retrofit), the software AusZEH Tool, new scenarios modelling capabilities for building stock and technology diffusion at urban and state levels, and a number of new research areas.

I also led the multi-institutional collaboration behind the Australian Life Cycle Inventory (AusLCI) Database Initiative and facilitated its successful transfer to the Australian Life Cycle Assessment Society (ALCAS). These AusLCI datasets are key in embodied carbon calculations and assessment, and thus, an important resource in carbon mitigation and reduction efforts in Australia’s supply and value chains across industry sectors.

I also contributed the concept and rationale to the federal government and the Prime Minister’s National Task Force on Energy Efficiency – which was then called the national Energy Efficiency Modelling and Analysis Platform (EE-MAP) – for exploring cost effective schemes and pathways to significantly improve the energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of Australian industries. This was included as one of the Task Force’s final recommendations (c. 2010).

I co-chaired and organised in Melbourne the 2008 World Sustainable Building Conference (WSB08) and the 2013 Sustainability and the City: A Science Frontier Symposium.

What is the role of your various organisations in the energy transition, both at home and abroad?

The University of Melbourne, especially through the university-wide Melbourne Energy Institute (MEI), undertakes interdisciplinary research on our transition to a clean energy system. MEI works with the community, industry and government on some of the world's most pressing energy challenges. Individual faculties and research teams across disciplines also undertake specialist research on various aspects of the energy supply and value chains, and their ecosystems. I enjoy the opportunities for discussions and collaboration in this environment, which inspire new ideas and lead to new research paths. But the unique opportunity at the University of Melbourne that I did not have in the same way before is the scale and reach to teach, train and mentor a new generation of engineers, professionals, researchers and academics to continue innovation in the sector and allied fields. The Melbourne Entrepreneurial Centre, with its various programs and network in the venture funding world, also provides great opportunities for our students and faculty to bring their innovative ideas and research into the market.

The CSIRO – with its widely recognised contributions in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, development and demonstration (RD&D) in the energy ecosystem – has been an important part of my career. I enjoyed working with CSIRO colleagues with deep expertise in many areas – from materials science to engineering technologies, building science, computer modelling, environmental science and engineering, social sciences and economics – and delivering innovative research to industry and government. I cherished the opportunities to work with many international organisations and especially as a member of official Australian technical missions to Japan, the Philippines and the USA. In the latter, I joined two federal government expert staff to explore and develop a bilateral US-Australian collaborative program to improve energy efficiency and reduce the carbon emissions in the building sector.

With my consulting company nBLue and in collaboration with GBPN, we worked with UNEP to help South-East Asian countries to train local professionals and identify ways to reduce their building sector’s national GHG emissions in line with their COP21 Paris Agreement targets. I have previously helped UNEP in facilitating and contributing technically to the development of the Common Carbon Metric (CCM) for buildings that was launched in COP15 Copenhagen and adopted by many world building councils and rating systems. For UNFCCC, I developed the Kyoto-Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) methodologies for buildings, for both small-scale and large-scale projects in developing countries.

Could you explain your involvement in the IEA EBC and the value of the program?

The IEA EBC Program provides great opportunities for international collaboration involving academics, researchers, professionals and other experts on important topics (designated Annexes), where the state of the art meets state of practice amongst participating nations. The sharing of knowledge, experience and viewpoints provides opportunities for synthesis and formulation of recommendations for policy, guidelines and standards, engineering and design practice and future research. All the active participants benefit from the exchanges and outputs in various ways. The open access nature of Annex outputs serves any interested stakeholder and new researchers anywhere in the world.

I am currently involved primarily and directly in Annex 72 (Assessing Life Cycle Related Environmental Impacts Caused by Buildings) and, in a secondary role, Annex 73 (Towards Net Zero Energy Public Resilient Communities). I have also been previously involved in Annex 57 (Evaluation of Embodied Energy and CO2 Equivalent Emissions for Building Construction) and indirectly in several other previous annexes.

How do you champion energy efficiency in your home? Do you now work from home, and if so, what do you enjoy about working from home?

I renovated my house, which was originally built in the late 1940s and with an energy efficiency rating of less than 1-star on purchase, about 20 years ago to be a healthy and 5-star energy efficient house in Phase 1, just below the standard for new houses at that time. Having served us well for that long, I am now about to start Phase 2 (of 2) of the renovation soon to bring the whole house up to a 7-star rating and aim for a near-zero energy house when completed. I also plan to participate in a Virtual Power Plant scheme. Because this is a retrofit and renovation effort with timber materials, I have also avoided a significant amount of embodied carbon in the process, compared to a new build to the same standard.

I have worked mostly from home in the last two and half years and enjoyed the extra 2-hours saved from commuting to the city and back each day (and avoided the stress associated with the commute), work time flexibility, the home meals and coffee (with a good supply of quality beans) and my extra time with my wife and our dog (at home and on walks in the neighbourhood parks and the beach).

What are your thoughts on the current state of the energy transition?

The current state of the planet and the trajectory of where we, as a society, are headed have become very real and personal to many people across the world who have experienced extreme events in intensity and/or frequency not seen before. Others are experiencing energy and affordability crises. The warnings have hit home. All along, developments in knowledge and technology across the energy sector and its broader ecosystem have continued to advance. If governments, industry, experts and professionals, and communities find ways to work together to reform and transform the known deficiencies in the current energy system, we may succeed in slowing the process of resource depletion (and their associated biodiversity consequences) and global warming, and in giving us time to adapt to the changing environment and preserve societal and economic wellbeing. Australia has great opportunity to lead and demonstrate to the world the needed energy transition.

Dr Hong Xian Li, Senior Lecturer, Deakin University’s School of Architecture and Built Environment

Dr Hong Xian Li, or Lily, is an Australian representative in Annex 82: Energy Flexible Buildings Towards Resilient Low Carbon Energy Systems.

Can you explain your role at Deakin?
I am currently a Senior Lecturer at Deakin University, working on high-performance buildings through energy-efficient building design, building prefabrication, and the utilisation of renewable energy.  My main roles include education, research, internal & external services, and industry engagement. As an integrated scholar, I apply my expertise from research to high-quality teaching and service. My leadership in research is reflected by the number of research projects where I am the chief investigator, engaging with industry partners and government agencies and delivering results that become published and high-impact journal papers.

What did you do prior to your current role?
Before I joined Deakin University, I completed my PhD studies and held a Research Fellow position at the University of Alberta in Canada, which is one of Canada’s top universities. I also had various opportunities to collaborate with academics, government agencies, and industry partners on critical research. This included working with prestigious organisations such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), and Landmark Group of Companies. My experience working in research rich environments has developed my expertise in a wide range of  areas in return, significantly contributing to what I am doing now in Australia. 

What is your organisation’s role in the energy management market and Australia’s energy transition?
Deakin University prioritises the energy management market and Australia’s energy transition as one of its key ‘Impact Themes’. This is underpinned by a vision to enable a sustainable world by leveraging research in the areas of environment, sustainability and energy. Deakin University is also dedicated to future proofing energy management, and has made significant commitments and contributions in seeking to mitigate climate change and enable a sustainable world. ,  

What do you enjoy about working for your organisation?
Deakin University promotes inclusion and diversity for our students and staff members, which provides a rich teaching and research environment with significant support. Within this supportive environment, I feel like I belong to a ‘big family’; I can reach out to our management team and  I work with our industry professors on exciting industry engagement. All of which promotes the university's research impact and reputation significantly.

What is the value of the International Energy Agency’s Energy in Buildings and Communities Program (IEA EBC)?
The IEA EBC is a great venue for knowledge sharing, development showcase, and networking in the sustainable built environment, with various specific research directions and subtasks.  It is a collective endeavour by outstanding researchers and professionals worldwide, showcasing leading technologies and cutting-edge research that Australia can refer to and benefit from. The IEA EBC also provides a great opportunity to demonstrate globally the unique achievements made in Australia. It also promotes international collaborations that can accelerate policy incubation and technology advancement.   

How do you champion energy efficiency in your own home?
I just moved into my first townhouse in Australia, which features sustainable and energy-efficient designs including:

  • It’s north orientation to the north to achieve solar access and passive heating in winter;
  • The ability to have natural ventilation and passive cooling when needed by opening windows
  • A solar tube brightens one of the toilet rooms without any artificial lighting requirements in the day
  • Affixed clothing racks in the backyard provides space for air drying laundry, saving a lot of energy that would otherwise be used by dryers; and
  • The use of greywater for gardening.

Do you now work from home, and if so, what is something you enjoy about working from home?
Yes, I have been working from home for more than a year. Productivity, flexibility, and efficiency are the benefits that I have experienced from working from home as a result of no travel and corridor talks. We also helped reduce CO2 emissions by working from home. It has  also allowed me to take better care of my kids, with more interactions, communications, and better meals (I am nominated as ‘Mama Chef’ at home).

When you’re not immersed in Australia’s energy transition, what do you do for fun?
I play guitar and sing sometimes. I also play a lot of soccer and listen to tons of podcasts.

What are you currently excited about in the energy world?
It is every individual and nation’s obligation to save energy and futureproof the environment for our generations. I am excited that we can significantly contribute to this mission collectively. For example, in one of my industry projects, our team managed to save 1,845 kWh of electricity use per month for one building, capitalising on our expertise in this area.
Energy supply security and climate change are the dual challenges encountered both in Australia and worldwide, and the building sector is one of the considerable energy consumers, using about 30% of energy and over 50% of electricity globally (International Energy Agency, 2018).  

Why do you value being a member of the Energy Efficiency Council?
Being a member of the Energy Efficiency Council provides various opportunities for professionals, academics, and government agencies. access to state-of-the-art development and technologies, the ability to connect with colleagues with the same interests through the network, and even identifying collaborations and making friends. Being a member of the Energy Efficiency Council also provides great opportunities for individual professional development.

Where do you see Australia’s energy and energy management markets in 2030?
Australia is committed to fulfilling its environmental obligations, which include meeting the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce emissions generated in 2005 by a minimum of 26% by 2030.

While only 6% of Australia's total energy consumption was derived from renewables (DEE, 2018) and 86.3% of electricity was generated from fossil-based sources (Clean Energy Council, 2014), it is imperative to seek effective pathways to close this  gap. With proper policy guidance, technology advancement, and infrastructure development for renewable energy, we will be able to fulfil our environmental obligations and futureproof the environment for our generations with collective endeavours.

This article was originally published in the November edition of Efficiency Insight.

Professor Mattheos Santamouris, Scientia Distinguished Professor, University New South Wales

Professor Mattheos Santamouris is the Australian representative on the Air Infiltration and Ventilation Center (AIVC – Annex 5) Board of Directors.

Who do you work for and what is your role? 

I am currently the Anita Lawrence Scientia Professor of High-Performance Architecture at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) School of Business Environment, working on high quality and innovative research related to the energy and environmental quality of the built environment.

Through High-Performance Architecture, I create innovative methods, techniques and technologies that improve indoor and outdoor environments while reducing energy consumption. I have been involved in designing and implementing mitigation technologies in more than 60 cities, and energy conservation and renewable technologies in hundreds of buildings and settlements of zero energy consumption.

Where do you see Australia’s energy and energy management markets in 2030?

There are fantastic new developments in the energy sector. The tremendous success of renewable energy creates a new energy reality while the revolution in the field of energy related materials offers tremendous prospects and priorities for the future.

The Australian energy sector can be the engine of future development. The development, implementation and commercialization of innovative and efficient energy technologies for electricity generation, building retrofitting and transport sector can drive the future of the country provided that the promoted energy policies will increase the added value in the country, protect the environment, generate jobs and enhance industrial developments.

What is the value of the International Energy Agency’s Energy in Buildings and Communities Program (IEA EBC)?

The IEA EBC coordinates and promotes active energy research and contributes highly to the advancement of energy technologies, whilst also bringing together some of the world’s best researchers to encourage knowledge exchange. It is among the most important coordinating bodies in the field of energy and has contributed enormously to the important progress achieved in recent years.

I am Australia’s representative on the Air Infiltration and Ventilation Centre (AIVC), which is Annex 5 at the IEA EBC. I was motivated to join the AIVC based on my research interests in ventilation and indoor air quality.

How does Australia benefit from engaging in this international research effort? 

AIVC is a fantastic open source of information on ventilation of buildings which Australians can benefit from. This includes full and free access to a plethora of documents, tools, books, conferences, workshops, webinars and more on issues related to ventilation, infiltration, and indoor air quality of buildings.

All Australians can have access to these free resources by visiting the AIVC website at www.aivc.org

How can other researchers and industry leaders get involved with IEA EBC projects?

Anyone that is interested in building ventilation is welcome to contact me at m.santamouris@unsw.edu.au to get more information and find the best way to get involved.

The IEA EBC Annexes are also listed on the IEA EBC website - with Annexes in which Australians are involved listed here on the Energy Efficiency Council's website. Anyone that is interested in joining (and contributing to the work of) an Annex can contact the listed Operating Agent of that Annex. 

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Dr Wendy Miller, Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Built Environment at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Dr Wendy Miller is an Australian representative in Annex 80: Resilient Cooling of Buildings

One of Australia’s leading researchers on the intersection between the built environment and our rapidly transforming energy system, Wendy initiates and conducts industry and government funded socio-technical research in energy efficiency and renewable energy. She is an Australian representative on the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Energy in Buildings and Communities (EBC) Annex 80 focusing on resilient cooling.

Wendy is passionate about the use of multidisciplinary research teams that embrace systems thinking and integration, including technology, people, and policy. Her current research projects include resilient cooling, living laboratories, electronic building passports, building regulation and compliance, natural ventilation, and indoor environment quality.

Can you explain your role at QUT? My role is Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Built Environment, Faculty of Engineering. My work includes conducting socio-technical research in buildings and energy as well as teaching in construction management.

What did you do prior to your current role? Prior to this role, I was a senior research fellow in mechanical engineering, exploring the same research areas but teaching sustainability units within undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees. I’ve also had previous roles in sustainable energy industry development, renewable energy technical education, classical music and music teaching. 

How would you describe the role QUT plays in the energy management market and Australia’s energy transition? QUT’s role is multi-faceted as it includes elements of what a research organisation does, for instance, studying clean energy technologies and transitions; QUT also provides tertiary education and trains future professionals in energy markets and technologies. Additionally, QUT is an organisation that demonstrates sustainability in action, with commitments to environmental sustainability and net zero by 2030.

What do you enjoy about working for QUT? I enjoy the opportunity my job provides to discuss ideas with colleagues, students and partners from diverse backgrounds and experiences, and the ability to contribute to evidence-based decision-making.

How has working from home been and how do you stay connected with your team when you aren’t in the office? I work from home 2-3 days per week where I enjoy the natural views from my home office; natural ventilation, and light, and not having to commute. I stay connected with my colleagues mostly via email, mobile phone, or video teleconferencing meetings.

How does Australia benefit from engaging in the International Energy Agency’s Energy in Buildings and Communities Program (IEA EBC)? This is one of few programs that explicitly acknowledges the significance of energy use in buildings. The main value, from my perspective, is two-fold: the connection with other countries that enables us to see beyond our own approaches to energy challenges; and the ability to address joint problems collectively, rather than in isolation.

How do you champion energy efficiency in your own home? 
Our family set our greenhouse gas emissions reduction target back in 1996, so we’ve had rooftop solar since 2000. Our home is net positive in terms of household stationary energy use, including water supply. We’re working on reducing the carbon footprint of our food and waste, as well as working towards EV capabilities.

When you’re not immersed in Australia’s energy transition, what do you do for fun? 
For relaxation, I really enjoy spending time in the garden. We’ve revitalised a cleared block to provide a natural habitat to a wide range of birds, animals; grow vegetables and fruit. We can harvest something from the garden almost all year round!

What are you currently excited about in the energy world and where do you see Australia’s energy management markets in 2030?
The democratisation of energy – where customers don’t have to be a passive ‘consumer’ but can actively participate as a generator, user, and trader of ‘green’ energy. I see a two-sided market where traditional ‘end users’ (particularly commercial and industrial customers and collectives of households) are proactively engaged in electricity generation, virtual power plants, network support services, and demand flexibility services.

The IEA EBC Annexes are also listed on the IEA EBC website - with Annexes in which Australians are involved listed here on the Energy Efficiency Council's website. Anyone that is interested in joining (and contributing to the work of) an Annex can contact the listed Operating Agent of that Annex. 

Søren Østergaard Jensen, Operating Agent, Annex 82: Energy Flexible Buildings Towards Resilient Low Carbon Energy Systems 

Søren Østergaard Jensen is the operating agent of Annex 82 - Energy Flexible Buildings Towards Resilient Low Carbon Energy Systems. Søren was also the operating agent for Annex 67 - Energy Flexible Buildings.

How did you get involved in the field of building energy performance?

I started my career in the field of utilization of thermal solar energy in buildings. However, in order to optimize the performance of thermal solar energy, it is necessary to have a deep insight into the energy demand of a building. This led to a major interest for me in understanding the overall performance of buildings including comfort.

To optimize and decrease the energy demand of buildings, there is a need for advanced controls that are not often seen in residential buildings. The control used for energy flexibility and energy efficiency are more or less the same type of sensors, actuators and controllers. So, my interest in energy flexibility has the added benefit in the fact, that if energy flexibility is introduced in buildings, it is an easy step to also optimize the energy efficiency of the buildings. This can occur by also including some optimization routines in the controller responsible for delivering energy flexibility to the surrounding grids.

At the moment my focus is mostly on flexibility rather than on efficiency. Enhanced control demands further funding which may not be profitable when only looking at energy flexibility or energy efficiency but combining the two will make the investments economically sound. This combination is a very fascinating area of research and development. 

What has driven your passion in this sector?

Most people acknowledge that climate change is a problem and that to solve this there is a need for a transition from fossil-based energy systems to Renewable Energy Systems (RES). However, renewables such as wind power and solar are fluctuating energy sources, creating a need to transition from “energy production on demand” to “energy consumption on demand”. This is required to match the consumption with the instantaneous energy generation so that the stability of the energy grids is not jeopardized.

The stability of energy networks has typically been maintained by large fossil-based power plants, but, when they are being phased out, there is a need for other sources to obtain the necessary stability. Hence, there is a need for flexibility on the demand side. The flexibility can be obtained at central a level by large batteries, power2X
(electricity used as another source of energy), large heat pumps in district heating and cooling networks, etc., but also at the distributed level as energy flexibility from buildings. The latter has the advantage that this can handle problems at feeder level (power) or branches of a distribution system (e.g. district heating/cooling) for handling congestion problems.

My passion is to show that energy flexibility is just as important as energy efficiency when trying to reach the goal of energy networks solely driven on RES.

Tell us a bit about the research you have done and the roles you've held in your career

My research has mainly focused on decreasing the energy demand whilst increasing the comfort in residential buildings and to a certain extent in office buildings. Energy neutral buildings has therefore been a central area of my work over the last two decades. I have been leader or subtask leader in many national projects and participated in international projects in this field. During the last decade, I have performed lot of work on energy flexibility from buildings, mainly focusing on controlling heat pumps in residential buildings.

I was one of the subtask leaders of a large national project called iPower, which focused mainly on communication hardware/software and business models at a higher level and less on the obtainable energy flexibility from the buildings. So, I decided to create Annex 67 - Energy Flexible Buildings for international experts to investigate energy flexibility in buildings and how to utilize this.

What is the value of the International Energy Agency’s Energy in Buildings and Communities Program (IEA EBC)?

Annex work is very different from other research projects as you never know who will join. An annex is in principle open to individuals from all countries that are part of the IEA EBC. So, although a workplan is agreed on in the beginning of an annex, the result may very well be different from the original intentions. However, this is also the beauty of annex work. You meet, discuss and work with people that you often wouldn’t have found otherwise as they have different backgrounds and come from different countries This broadens your horizon and will often lead to better solutions. On top of this, your network is expanded. This is especially important for individuals undertaking PhDs, as they can start building up their network and write papers and articles with other PhD students but also with experienced researchers.

What annex(es) you are involved in?

I have been leader (Operating Agent (OA)) of IEA EBC (Energy in Buildings and Communities) Annex 67 Energy Flexible Buildings (www.annex67.org), where experts from 15 countries investigated energy flexibility in buildings and how to utilize this. I have also been appointed OA for the succussing Annex 82 Energy flexible buildings towards resilient low carbon energy systems including 21 interested countries. In Annex 67 we mainly focused on single buildings and less on clusters of buildings (aggregation) and the integration with the energy grids. Annex 82 will mostly focus on the aggregated level, utilization of energy flexibility from buildings in both single and multi-carrier energy grids, how stakeholders may be involved and guidelines towards good business models.

What do you consider the future of this field to be?

When we started Annex 67, no one in the IEA EBC thought that energy flexibility from buildings was of great important and the work in this field was very scattered. Now, energy flexibility is mentioned in some way in most new proposals for EBC Annexes, acknowledging that this area is very important. Although Annex 67 developed the basis for a common understanding and a proposal for a characterization method, the research in and especially the utilization of energy flexibility from buildings are still in its early stage. However, we foresee a much stronger commitment in this area because as stated earlier: energy flexibility is just as important as energy efficiency when trying to reach the goal of energy networks solemnly driven on RES.

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Dr Stephen White, Energy Efficiency Leader, Business Energy Unit, CSIRO 

Dr Stephen White is the operating agent of Annex 81 – Data-Driven Smart Building

What is your current role?

I am the Energy Efficiency Leader of the CSIRO Energy Business Unit. I lead a number of work programs including:

  • The Innovation Hub for Affordable Heating and Cooling (i-Hub) Data Clearing House Activity; and
  • The joint Mission Innovation / IEA EBC Annex 81.

The Innovation Hub for Affordable Heating and Cooling (i-Hub) Data Clearing House Activity

i-Hub is a consortium of around 30 members engaged in an AU$18 million program of work, led by the Australian Institute of Airconditioning Heating and Ventilation (AIRAH), and partly funded by ARENA.  i-Hub aims to demonstrate the use of integrated operation of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment with renewable generation in order to maximise the value of renewable generation to building owners. 

In work to-date, 1.2GW of flexible load has been identified across Australia, through the application of demand response in HVAC systems.  The i-Hub Data Clearing House Activity aims to help mobilise this flexible resource by overcoming barriers to the adoption of emerging digital technologies and supporting data-driven on-site energy management.   

My role is to oversee this work; identifying new opportunities for demonstrating data-driven HVAC solutions, and supporting companies to innovate and grow in this field.

The joint Mission Innovation / IEA EBC Annex 81

‘Data-Driven Smart Buildings’ is a new collaboration of some 16 countries and over 30 organisations. The initiative addresses the opportunity for emerging digital technologies to reduce costs and overcome barriers to energy efficiency, through advanced maintenance, control and operation of building HVAC systems. Emerging technologies and business models under investigation include the:

  • Internet of things (IoT);
  • Artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics; and
  • Open ‘sharing-economy’ digital platforms.

Amongst other things, the Annex will look to exploit semantic web technologies and data standards to improve the scalability of digital energy efficiency solutions.

I am the Operating Agent, responsible for leading the consortium.  This includes facilitating the development of research plans and knowledge sharing activities.

What is your organisation’s role in Australia’s energy transition?

CSIRO – the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation – is Australia’s national research agency. It plays a catalytic role in Australia’s innovation ecosystem helping to build consortia that can drive collective impact, and providing authoritative independent advice based on cutting edge research. 

The CSIRO Grids and Energy Efficiency Systems (GEES) Program aims to facilitate the alignment of consumer energy demand, storage and local generation for a reliable, low-cost, low-carbon energy system. It has delivered a number of seminal works including:

  • The Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and CSIRO Network Transformation Roadmap,;
  • The Future Grid Forum; and
  • The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) andCSIRO GenCost Report.

CSIRO is the operator of the National Energy Analytics Research platform (NEAR) which looks to support the harmonisation of diverse end-use data sources with an objective of reducing duplication of data management by various energy market stakeholders.

What is the value of the IEA EBC?

The International Energy Agency’s Energy in Buildings and Communities Program (IEA EBC) is one of the relevant IEA technology collaboration programmes that provide a forum for sharing knowledge and tapping into the latest international developments in the field of energy efficiency. 

The IEA EBC Annexes typically collate and produce reports on emerging products and services, and their applicability to policy and program goals. Annex research and knowledge sharing often supports the development of performance indicators, benchmarks and technical standards, which can be applied in the design of policies and programs. Consequently, the IEA EBC provides significant value as a mechanism for improving policies designed to underpin Australia’s energy transition.   

What motivated you to get involved with your current IEA EBC Annex?

My involvement in Annex 81 arose out of my role leading Australia’s engagement in the Mission Innovation ‘Affordable Heating and Cooling Innovation Challenge’. Mission Innovation (of which Australia is a member country) is a global initiative working to accelerate clean energy innovation. The aim is to overcome barriers to digitalisation of building services and thereby empower an ecosystem of Australian innovators to develop cost effective energy efficiency solutions based on emerging digital technologies.  This was linked with industry consultation work conducted by AIRAH, identifying that the global HVAC industry has been a slow adopter of digitalisation.

How does Australia benefit from engaging in this international research effort?

From an industry jobs and growth perspective: A number of Australian companies are pioneers in the field of data-driven building services. The IEA Annex 81 is an opportunity for these companies to showcase Australian capability and identify opportunities for new markets and growth.  It is also an opportunity for Australian companies to influence international technical standards and thereby help avoid being locked out of international markets.

From an energy transition perspective: The IEA Annex 81 workplan investigates the opportunity for integrating buildings as ‘distributed energy resources’ into the electricity system.  This is a potential low-cost (but largely untapped) opportunity for Australia to access 1.2GW of flexible load to improve the security of the grid. 

How can other researchers and industry leaders get involved with IEA EBC projects?

The IEA EBC Annexes are listed on the IEA EBC website - with Annexes in which Australians are involved listed here on the Energy Efficiency Council's website. Anyone that is interested in joining (and contributing to the work of) an Annex can contact the listed Operating Agent of that Annex.

Clearly, the Annexes that are in their early ‘preparation phase’ are best placed to receive new members and for their workplan to be influenced by the participation of new members.

Annex 81 is in its early stages and is open to welcoming new participants. Traditionally, most of the meetings have been face to face, but in these COVID-19 days, a lot more is being done online.

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