Findings of Ecodesign Task 0 - VITO's editorial for eu.bac insight magazine

On 31 July the exploratory phase for preparing a full Ecodesign study on Building Automation and Control Systems (BACS) was completed with the publication of a Task 0 report. This study fits within the Ecodesign Working plan 2016-2019 of the European Commission (EC)[1] that identified BACS as potential candidates for future Implementing Measures within the Ecodesign Directive(2009/125/EC) or the Energy Labelling Regulation((EU) 2017/1369). This report is a first step in defining future Ecodesign or Energy labelling policy for BACS.


The exploratory Task 0 report is available on the project website (https://ecodesignbacs.eu/) and hereafter is a summary. The study was done by VITO/Energyville[2] in cooperation with Waide Strategic Efficiency Ltd and therefore reflects the opinions of the authors which are not necessarily those of the EC.


The study reconfirmed that from the energy and environmental perspective, BACS offer an impressive, cost-effective potential to reduce building energy consumption through the provision of improved management of the Technical Building System(TBS). The study looked at different types of building applications on which the full study could focus, for example: renovated versus new, residential versus non-residential, large versus small, etc. Herein, it was also found that despite their low energy consumptions BACS still have an important role to play in newly constructed Nearly Zero Energy Buildings(NZEB).


The study recommended to follow a BACS function oriented approach with the focus on the TBS related functions. The EN 15232 standard can serve as an appropriate starting point. Hence, the definition according to BACS functions could cover various hardware, including: those that implement a single or a group of functions, those bundled with a TBS or sold as standalone. This function oriented approach would therefore provide a level playing field to all types of BACS products.


The study concluded that Ecodesign product regulation can play an important role to ensure that information is present to allow optimal BACS solutions to be specified. Therefore, a key need for the full BACS preparatory study will be to define standardized informational needs that can be mandated via Ecodesign and/or energy labelling measures. It is noted that following the EN 15232 and the related set of Energy Performance of Buildings Directive(EPBD) standards[3] for setting information requirements on BACS products would facilitate the inclusion of BACS within the calculation of building energy performance certificates(EPC). Similarly, this standardized BACS product information can simplify the work load to calculate for example a Smart Readiness Indicator(SRI) for a building[4] or generally could facilitate new applications to support consumers in their energy management.


The study also recommended to consider for some specific BACS functions Ecodesign limits on accuracy and/or minimum functionality levels. The present scoping study has identified 24 BACS functions, that could be suitable for minimum level of functionality specifications under Ecodesign regulations. It has also identified 13 BACS functions for which there are likely significant energy savings opportunities from Ecodesign limits on accuracy. Examples of product groups providing these services are: electronic radiator valves and room temperature controllers, room/zone temperature controls for different emission equipment or to avoids concurrent heating and cooling emission, air dampers combined with CO2 or occupancy sensors, etc.


Similar to other products Ecodesign policy also for BACS products minimum lifetime, upgradability and reparability requirements could be evaluated, for example to repair easy failed electromechanical relays within an actuator.


The study also identified that BACS could be part of Ecodesign requirements related to information or limits for self-consumption. It could be maximum consumption limits for components that are common to most BACS (e.g. sensors, actuators, displays, ..) or also a modular approach with an energy consumption budget per BACS function and its functionality level (e.g. heat emission control with weather compensation). Also self-consumption of BACS due to the many gateways/bridges involved in its communication system could be investigated, for example standardization could help to reduce the amount of gateways needed.


The study also recommended to align with other product groups that already have or might have BACS functions in their Ecodesign or Energy labelling requirements, for example the ongoing review of the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling requirements for space and water heaters[5].


The degree of interoperability of BACS can be a limiting factor affecting the functionality level of the TBSs that they manage and therefore it is recommended that the full study can look at those aspects. This could result in some minimum interoperability requirements with respect to their function. Related to interoperability BACS also have the potential to support the electricity network with demand side management and therefore a full study could continue to examine the gaps to support the standardization.


In order to have an Energy label for BACS there is a need for an Energy Efficiency Index (EEI)(kWh/m²/y).  The study recognized the complexity of estimating the energy impacts of BACS that arises from the many components that influence the building energy balance in combination with a broad range of possible building technical properties, climate conditions and usage patterns. Therefore the study launched a new notion which is an on-line Energy Efficiency Index or a ‘smart BACS energy saving calculator’ that can built on the product information and user specific inputs. It could also be mandated that BACS products should provide a direct reference to the website where the smart calculator can be found. Similarly, there may be options to use the smart BACS calculator in a manner that supports conformity assessment and market surveillance.


Stakeholders were also able to provide additional position papers and comments on this Task 0 report by mid-September. The services of the  EC(DG ENER) will decide this year how to scope and proceed with the full preparatory study based on this Task 0 report and the additional position papers received. 

Paul Van  Tichelen, Senior expert/project manager, VITO/Energyville

[1] http://ec.europa.eu/growth/industry/sustainability/ecodesign_en

[2] https://www.energyville.be/en/about-energyville

[3] https://epb.center/support/epbd

[4] https://smartreadinessindicator.eu/

[5] https://www.ecoboiler-review.eu/