The lean usage of resources and improvement of energy efficiency have been receiving increasing attention in recent years, and even the less environmentally conscious will have to change their consumption practices due to rising energy prices as well as more and more strict regulations. In some cases, such adaptation may require in-depth expert knowledge and thorough planning, implementation and operation procedures, as is the case with the energy management of large public buildings. This is a demanding and complex task that heavily relies on expert support, if the owners or operators of such facilities can afford it. Schools, as a specific type of public buildings, are also facing these challenges, and often, the tight budget and the lack of readily available expert knowledge combine to an almost insurmountable obstacle to selecting optimal energy saving strategies.
The VERYSchool project aims to provide schools with expert support to overcome these challenges by gathering practical experience and consolidating implicit, often informal, knowledge of possible challenges, implementation and operating circumstances, and adequate energy saving measures. Here, special care will be taken to properly integrate findings about such essential characteristics of schools as operation on regular schedule, exploitation of ambient conditions that match the momentary needs (e.g., natural light), or flexible manual override for exceptional cases. This specific knowledge will be formulated relying on existing expertise of consortium members, as well as insight gained with pilot applications implemented during the time span of the project.
VERYSchool will deliver this expert knowledge to the schools in two ways: first, by sharing explicit knowledge about linkages between problems and remedies in the way of a “recipe book”, and second, by providing an interactive simulation and integration tool that lets facility managers try “what-if” scenarios and put a selected solution to practical use. Integration of existing standard components is a key issue in the project, both in the simulation and solution selection front-end, as well as in ensuring interoperability of existing energy management components available on the market or already installed at schools.
Wherever possible, VERYSchool will also mobilise the potential of education in propagating a future-proof attitude towards more responsible energy conservation practices. This will prepare the coming generation for better knowledge of energy-related issues and better handling of modern energy management systems that still depend on expert support today.
Started in late 2011, the three-year VERYSchool project has a total budget of 2.86 million EUR, half of which is financed by the EU. The consortium consists of 13 partners from 9 countries, with participants coming from the energy sector, information technology, as well as education itself, represented by four pilot locations. Actions and solutions provided will observe ISO50001, and are in line with the 2020 and 2050 European targets of energy savings.