Digital Twin: Government Building

Scotland 2020

Through a combination of detailed HVAC modelling, using IESVE, and intelligent data collection and analysis, via iSCAN, IES have created a Digital Twin of a prominent Scottish building to help monitor and optimise energy performance, test proposed building technologies prior to install, support capital project planning and assess the environmental impact of the facility over time.

Key Facts

  • Leading by example with Digital Twin technology
  • Detailed HVAC Modelling provided by IES Consulting
  • Model calibrated with real data using iSCAN

Governments around the world are falling under increasing pressure to identify measures to help mitigate the ongoing climate crisis. And with the built environment accounting for a significant proportion of current energy use and carbon emissions globally, improving the performance of, not only new buildings, but also our current building stock, will be key if ambitious decarbonisation targets - such as the Scottish Government’s aim to create a net-zero society by 2045 – are to be met.

It is against this backdrop that IES have been helping to create a Digital Twin of one of Scotland’s most iconic buildings. The project ultimately aims to increase understanding of building energy performance and the associated carbon footprint.

IES Consulting initially provided services to the client back in 2009 when they undertook the building’s initial EPC assessment and, more recently, they have renewed the EPC for the building again. However, this project extends far beyond regulatory compliance.

Building energy modelling in the UK has too frequently been driven by a need to meet compliance requirements. However, the approach is flawed as compliance models do not take account of all sources of energy use within a building and many important loads can be ignored. These issues lead to a ‘performance gap’ between energy predictions and measured energy used.

This is why IES Consulting have helped the client evolve their compliance model into a more detailed HVAC model which more accurately represents all of the various systems and energy sources within the building. This detailed model provides the starting point from which the client can achieve more granular insights into the building’s seasonal performance, to ensure they are making the right decisions to manage and maintain their building effectively.

These insights are greatly enhanced by the integration of iSCAN, which has allowed the client to collate and assess actual measured data from the building’s various sub-meters and Building Management System (BMS). This data has in turn been used by the specialist consultants to add reality to the HVAC model. Through a process known as ‘calibration’, they have been able to achieve a close match between the model and how the building actually operates, including more realistic usage patterns and occupancy profiles. Already, the client has used this Digital Twin model to assess updates to their lighting design and now, following implementation, are using the model to validate that the savings are as anticipated, with positive results.

The Digital Twin therefore provides an invaluable asset for the client on an ongoing basis. IES intend to continue hosting the model and through the continuous integration of live data via iSCAN it will be possible to continually monitor performance and test the impact of further design and operational changes as time goes on.

This project is a rare example of the type of modelling that should be (but sadly often is not) undertaken to facilitate truly informed decisions when it comes to our buildings. The project exemplifies tools and modelling processes which can be adopted by any building to help identify and eliminate inefficiencies to significantly reduce energy, carbon and cost impacts.