Part of the
Built Environment
TU DelftTU EindhovenUniversity of TwenteWageningen University
Built Environment


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A Living Lab

A living lab, designed for early-adopters to experience novel technologies, to produce technological performance and user behavior data, through a community of autarchic residences via a water, waste and energy box/hub.

What is required from built environment enterprises to comply with the sustainability goals set by COP21 in Paris? Are the goals set by European Union for 2020 for new buildings or renovation of old buildings enough to tackle the built environment’s impact on climate change? In order to reach the energy neutral built environment, new and renovated buildings should produce more energy that they consume, to compensate for existing buildings, for which there are no plans to get renovated. Such an approach should produce high margins for the built environment enterprises, either with the ESCO approach, or by higher selling prices, due to the reduced life cycle costs of their buildings. The society would also benefit by actively participating in the energy transition, by enabling energy efficient houses to reach positive energy margins by adapting their energy consuming behavior. This could also be translated to monetary savings. But how can the built environment enterprises to design and built positive energy buildings? Would the design for positive energy built environments in community level be more socially and financially attractive? A strategy towards the design of positive energy built environment has been developed using the Heijmans ONE communities as a case study.

Project scope
In this project, TU/e university researchers and Heijmans N.V. have formed a team, in order to link industry with research for the potential application of research outcomes in built environment development projects. It aimed to develop a strategy for the integration, implementation, operation and maintenance of new technologies and practises in the design of the built environment. An actual Heijmans built environment project, the Heijmans ONE communities, was chosen as a case study to perform applied research. The Heijmans ONE residence is a new product of living developed by Heijmans, aiming at young professionals who earn too much for social housing and too little for the free rental sector. It consists of a small prefabricated, mountable, temporary residence.

Goals and results

One of the two main goals of this assignment was to develop a list of technologies that can be applied in built environment, and a strategy to pave the way towards the goal of the company to design and potentially construct a zero energy, or even positive energy (surplus energy balance), urban environment by 2020. To validate this strategy and especially regarding emerging technologies, the case study was introduced, in order to match the Heijmans ONE with a creative process towards the transition to sustainability. 

The second main goal was to develop a business plan for the commercialization of the results of the applied research. For this, the idea of a living lab based on the Heijmans ONE residence where innovative technologies would be tested emerged. Ideally, these technologies would modularly attach to the building in a similar way to ‘Phonebloks’ flexible mobile concept. Following this concept, the “Autarchy Hub” idea evolved, which lead to the design of a centralized neighbourhood level energy service business case and business plan.

One of the main goals was to develop a strategy to pave the way towards the goal of the company to design and potentially construct a zero energy, or even positive energy (surplus energy balance), urban environment by 2020.

In order to accomplish these goals, the milestones set were met:

• A detailed morphological overview of available or potentially available materials and technologies for implementation in the urban environment for district, building, and user level.
• An assessment of materials and technology; based on investment, operational and maintenance costs, if possible.
• A technology selection strategy for optimisation of the design of buildings based on typology, functionality and realization criteria of technologies.
• A business plan for the development of a living lab for the Heijmans ONE community.

The successful completion of these milestones has allowed further development of the project’s aim and a broader application of the formulated design strategy to other built environment projects. In detail, the following are the most important additional results of the project:

• A business law report for a company producing a neighbourhood level centralized CHP plant.
• The development of the design basics, requirements, criteria, and design optimisation for the Heijmans ONE residence, producing 2 scenarios: the “Smart Off-grid Heijmans ONE”and the “Heijmans ONE SmartVille”.
• A proposal for the renovation of RM3 Heijmans office complex, using the developed database with assessment of the proposed design scenarios.
• A proposal for the renovation of social housing residences, using the developed Matlab tool and database, with assessment of the proposed    design scenarios.
• A detailed component sizing and pricing for the Heijmans ONE off-grid system and connection with two companies to realize the aforementioned project plan.
• Participation, reaching the national finals, in Climate KIC Launchpad NL competition with the ‘Autarchy Hub’ idea for neighbourhood level (centralized) Energy Service Company.
• A business plan for the development of an energy service/product Heijmans spin-off company called ‘Autarchy Hub’.

Field study

During the period of this project, the first two Heijmans ONE residences were constructed and placed at Zeeburgereiland, Amsterdam. In one of these residences, different people would stay over the period of a few months, while the other was used for showcasing purposes. Then, following the development of the living lab idea, it was decided to install energy consumption plug load monitoring equipment in one of the two residences.

The installation of this measuring equipment allowed us to monitor and understand the energy consumption patterns of the Heijmans ONE and the most energy consuming appliances. In addition, the indoor temperature and humidity conditions were monitored, in order to distinguish the thermal comfort conditions in the residence. 

Finally, the measurements were used to validate a building performance simulation TRNSYS model of the Heijmans ONE residence, developed by an MSc graduate in Building Services & Physics in TU/e, for checking the performance of the design tools and in depth optimization of the detailed design.

The process innovation is related to the development of initial design stage building optimization tools giving emphasis in the energy aspects.

The project involved the development of both process and product innovation results. The process innovation is related to the development of initial design stage building optimization tools giving emphasis in the energy aspects. The product innovation is related to the development of the business plans for the living lab and the “Autarchy Hub”, to be realized in 2016 in collaboration with TU/e and its Innovation Lab.

ir.MEng. Argyrios Papadopoulos
Eindhoven University of Technology – Smart Energy Buildings & Cities

Eindhoven University of Technology Bert Blocken, Pieter van Wesemael, Jan Hensen, Pieter-Jan Hoes, Mohamed Hamdy Hassan, Ignacio Torrens Galdiz, Isabella Gaetani dell’Aquila d’Aragona, Maria Odete Magalhães de Almeida, Bas Giskes

Heijmans N.V. 
Dick Timmermans, Gerard de Leede, Anneke Dalhuisen, Pim Katelaars

ESADE Business & Law School 
Jordi Guasch Lopez