IES collaborate with R2M to roll out ICL Digital Twin Technology at Politecnico di Milano

Date Published

19th Mar 2021

Suzanne Wallace
Media & Communications Manager, IES

IES have been collaborating with R2M Solution for many years, with R2M being one of the most successful resellers in Europe for the IES Virtual Environment (IESVE). The companies are also both partners on +CityxChange, a smart city project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. For this project, seven cities will develop and deploy Positive Energy Blocks and Districts and scale these out as part of a Clean Energy Transition. 

IES’ latest ICL Digital Twin technology plays a key role in this project. IES provides the modelling and analysis of the buildings, grid and any renewable infrastructure within the identified Positive Energy Blocks for each of the cities. Through the use of smart sensors, connected devices and the integration of ICL tools, IES will enable improved decision support that allows Municipalities and Citizens to visualise the impacts of decisions to be made in their city. R2M is responsible for effectively scaling-up the solutions identified through the projects within the cities involved, to replicate the proposed approach to other European cities and exploit the solutions into diverse markets. 

Having seen and experienced the benefits of IES’ ICL Digital Twin technology, R2M is now promoting its use amongst the Academic world. IES, R2M and Politecnico di Milano have been collaborating for many years on EU research and on integrating IESVE into engineering learning and teaching. Politecnico di Milano has been recently ranked in the top 20 Engineering, Architecture and Design Universities by the QS World University Rankings by subject 2021. In the last year, R2M have also been helping Politecnico di Milano integrate ICL tools through training sessions and support.

As a result of this some masters students from Politecnico di Milano have been heavily using ICL tools as part of their thesis work. R2M are supporting and guiding the students in the use of these tools and the students have now successfully completed their thesis. 

Thesis 1: Multistorey building in San Giuliano Milanese: building retrofit with BIPV and storage system integration

This thesis studies and seeks to understand the energetic performance of a multistorey building in San Giuliano Milanese (MI). It does this through the improvement of the envelope (opaque and transparent), the substitution of systems such as heating, cooling and ventilation, and the installation of a traditional photovoltaic system on the roof and BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaic system) on the façade, to allow the transformation of the building from consumer to producer and prosumer of electricity.

Different configurations of photovoltaic fields are presented, considering all the possible issues related to the installation on the roof or on the façade. The final aim is to cover the building electricity consumption. To achieve it, a storage system is integrated too, in order to maximize the self-consumption, without relying on the grid. The final configuration is supported by an economic analysis too, to support the choice of the best system for the building

To carry out the above studies, the students used the ICL tools iSCAN and iVN. iSCAN was used to analyse the following:

- Equipment electricity: Electrical energy consumption associated with equipment gains
(internal gains excluding lighting)
- Lights electricity: Electrical energy consumption associated with lighting
- Chillers energy: The total energy consumption for chillers
- Ap Sys fans/pumps/controls energy: Energy consumed by fans, pumps and controls within Apache Systems. Includes auxiliary energy, chiller heat rejection pump energy, and pump energy associated with DHW and solar water heating systems

iSCAN enabled a detailed view of this data with the ability view in hourly time steps via easy to read graphs and dashboards. 

The iVN tool was used to understand the dynamics happening in the small scale of a single building or in a bigger scale such as an entire district, connecting buildings and creating node of electricity, heating and cooling for each of the buildings inserted. It is possible to recreate the district importing the correct weather file and then the buildings themselves through OpenStreetMaps. Each building can then be modified changing some of the characteristics, in order to make it similar to the one created in Revit and imported in IESVE. 

Thesis 2: Energy Modelling of Communities A Case Study: Campus Leonardo – Politecnico Di Milano

This thesis consists of performing an energy simulation on a community, in this case Politecnico di Milano Campus Leonardo and applying different retrofit and renewable energy strategies  to  understand  how  a  Zero  Energy  Community  (ZEC)  or  Nearly  Zero Energy Community (NZEC) is achievable. It was necessary to understand the actual global context and how the energy simulations have been carried out at a neighborhood and urban scale, as well as the strong effect of the urban microclimatic environment and the effect of the urban heat island (UHI). 

The students used the ICL iCD tool to perform the community energy simulations. Considering that the community modelling is simplified due to information and input limitations, a building was used as a reference model (Building 15) and the accuracy of the simplified model in iCD was compared with a detailed energy model in VE (Virtual Environment), reaching very close results, around 4% difference in terms of primary energy consumption. Proving that the approach was reliable, the energy simulation of the whole campus was possible.  

The following strategies were the interventions to reduce the overall energy consumption, going from passive to active and generation strategies, through nine different scenarios. The strategies consist of improving the envelope and glazing insulation values, using a more effective HVAC typology, electricity generation through photovoltaic systems, heat generation from ground source heat pumps and electric and heat storage among others. The final results showed that the most optimized scenario achieved a reduction of 60% of primary energy. Even though it was not possible to reach zero energy consumption the reduction is considerable.

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