When the energy supply faces serious restrictions, and its shortage threatens, European eyes turn to the buildings in which we live and work. How much energy do buildings consume? How can we make them more effective? While the technical answers are improving, the financial challenge persistently remains: who (and how) will finance digitization in buildings?
Member states invest great efforts in smart technology readiness indicators (SRI - Smart Readiness Indicators) to upgrade the building stock and national regulations and remove market barriers. This is also confirmed by the large number of projects implemented within the EU, which aim to solve the aforementioned challenges. One of these is the European project SRI2MARKET, which started its implementation in November 2022, and supports certain countries in overcoming barriers and proposes special public financing schemes for smart technologies in buildings. In Croatia, the project is implemented by the Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP) as one of the 12 project partners who will work on it for the next three years..
The attractiveness of investing in energy efficiency depends on geographic location and market mechanisms. Despite the introduction of SRI – an instrument that supports the assessment of how energy-smart a building is and defines the possibilities of further upgrading – its adoption in the EU is taking place at a different pace. In this context, SRI2MARKET will support member states in implementing the above indicators in their national regulations so that all stakeholders – from building owners to investors – see the benefits of smart buildings.
During the three years of the project, energy certifiers will be trained to evaluate SRI in buildings, new public financing schemes will be proposed for the implementation of smart technologies in buildings, and a clear and applicable SRI calculation methodology will be proposed. Additionally, recommendations will be developed to guide and inform building owners in the selection and automation options that best suit their buildings.
Six member states will participate in the SRI2MARKET project, and the contributions of each member state will depend on the current status of SRI implementation. In Croatia and Cyprus, activities within the project can result as a basis for political decision-makers for the implementation of SRI.
"The SRI2MARKET project will significantly help in testing the SRI calculation methodology, as well as identifying limitations and advantages. We hope that the completed work will pave the way for the acceptance of digitization and smart buildings in the Republic of Croatia", says Marko Bišćan, a researcher at EIHP, who also leads the project in Croatia.
Through activities within the project, decision-makers at the national level and market stakeholders will be involved to create interest and highlight the advantages of SRI. The activities foreseen in Croatia and Cyprus, among other things, include assistance in verifying and replicability of already developed methods and tools for quantifying SRI by member states with ongoing test phases, as well as those with an active interest in implementing SRI.
The member states with ongoing test phases are Austria and France. Through the SRI2MARKET project, the acquired experience will be further transferred to other member states that have yet to reach this stage to facilitate their planning of future activities. Member States with an active interest in implementing SRI are Portugal and Spain. As part of the project, dialogues and exchanges of experiences between stakeholders will be initiated, many tools will be developed, and instructions will be given on how to use them. The project is conceived as a catalyst for speeding up the making of relevant political decisions.
"Implementing smart technologies in buildings results in better comfort and offers additional benefits for users: from energy savings to more flexible energy consumption. SRI is a powerful instrument to support the digital and smart transition of the building stock in the EU. Every effort should be made to support its introduction, which can be achieved by helping building owners and users take advantage of digital and smart technologies. Implementing the SRI2MARKET project can make a crucial contribution through guidelines for implementing SRI in member states, funding opportunities, and developing models for implementing digital tools and support tools. This project very illustratively shows how EU programs can effectively support the implementation of energy policies for the benefit of all citizens", says Sylvain Robert, project officer from the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA).
BRIEFLY ABOUT SRI2MARKET PROJECT: The Smart Readiness Indicator (SRI) contains information on the assessment of the readiness of a building or an independent unit of use for smart technologies, in accordance with Article 8, Paragraph 10 of Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy efficiency of buildings. SRI2MARKET proposes methods for calculating SRI in buildings and schemes for public financing of smart technologies. The project is financed by the European Union's research and innovation program Horizon 2020; it includes 12 project partners from 6 EU member states. The total eligible costs of the project amount to EUR 2,010,080.60.