Every year, CFP Green Buildings receives hundreds of innovative sustainability plans for buildings. But which of them really have the potential to succeed? Those looking for promising innovations and ideas about bringing the right parties together needed to look no further than the CFP Innovation Day in Apeldoorn.
Written by Ysbrand Visser, Duurzaam Gebouw.
At this Innovation Day, with eighteen innovations being presented in two halls, choosing was the hard part. Especially because each of them had only six minutes for their presentation, with a further three minutes for critical questions. So we had to make some hard decisions, passing up the smart rubbish bin, talking buildings and solar thermal tubes to take part instead in presentations like data-driven platforms for battery storage and property management. The showstopper was definitely the SuperHybrid from Cooll: a heat pump that has everything it takes to be the solution in the energy transition (more on that later).
Samuel Op den Orth kicked off the Innovation Day from Lisbon, where he spoke to us remotely over an internet connection about his digital platform Coding Delta. His platform offers a giant step forward in the smart use of home batteries during peaks and troughs in supply and demand. It gives you a personal recommendation based on your consumption data and the energy being generated by solar panels. Combining this with the specific data from your battery, you can then calculate what storing and using the electricity yourself will get you at specific moments – for both home and business users. The tool can also present this information via the websites of technicians and suppliers. And its algorithm can take into account the fluctuations in rates. The bottom line is that it’s a system that will be high in demand in the coming years.
Following on from the solution we’ve just described, it is, of course, also important to link up the entire palette of energy sources and consumption in a smart way. That is the business of Eniris, as Bart Verheecke told us from Belgium. He described the current gap in this area as a kind of black hole. Individual or even collective use (at the neighbourhood level) can be adjusted to varying tariffs with the Smartgrid Controller, and the system then activates optimal use. The washing machine and electric car then become pawns in a smart energy game that many have envisaged, but few have actually applied. But the Internet of Energy is coming, without a doubt, and Eniris is ready for it.
The many attendees also got to see some real, tangible products, such as the circular LED lighting elements by Duurzame Connecties (Dconn), colourful solar panels by Solar Visuals to spruce up building exteriors, and the climate-adaptive paving solutions of Rain(a)Way. In a very topical presentation, Fien Dekker presented a product that is contributing to controlling flooding and preventing dehydration by turning car parks into giant water buffers with her design studio’s Rain(A)Way paving tiles. When lain, with grass in between, they may resemble what is already present elsewhere. But their real secret lies beneath the surface. Below, the foundation is not concrete rubble, but a green, water-storage buffer with room for about three cubic metres of water per parking space. This also has the added benefit of lowering the local temperature by as much as 10 degrees Celsius. The sustainable concrete used also contains much less cement than regular cement.
While we are digging in the ground, we come across Energie voor elkaar, an energy company that develops heat networks. Dorien Groen-Stevens explained how her fast-growing company is aiming to connect a wide variety of solutions to deliver heat to homes, even on a small scale. Along with the familiar sustainable resources like solar panels and geothermal energy, there is still a huge potential for surplus waste heat. Energie voor elkaar wants to connect these sources intelligently in more and more places and, where possible, to existing heat networks. However, the rates are easily 30% below the market price because no gas is used. So far, 20,000 connections are active and over 100 kilometres of pipelines have been completed, mainly in Ede.
Two odd ones out in the whole picture were CFP itself (with Sport NL Groen) and Kristian Dansen’s VASD Platform. He seems to have found a gap in the market with an app that connects property maintenance and management needs with maintenance companies. The data-driven approach (based in part on publicly available data) makes it easy to determine when a building such as an apartment building is due for maintenance. And the app functions in smart ways: for example, VASD automatically creates a multi-year maintenance plan because it tracks the top 10 maintenance items. This also makes the costs, and the payback period, more transparent. The platform connects everything and keeps track of all the data, so it gives not only owners’ associations and housing corporations valuable insights into this information but can help municipalities identify the right moment for large-scale, sustainable renovations.
The latter is also the goal of the free Sport NL Green tool, Claire den Hertog of CFP explained. The tool identifies the sustainable improvement opportunities for the many thousands of Dutch sports facilities. It also offers the option of connecting with an energy coach to discover further solutions. For most sports administrators, this is unfamiliar territory, but for these administrators the tool can open a whole new world of possible measures and available subsidies. CFP’s intention is also to ultimately link potential suppliers to the tool.
The highlight of the day was the SuperHybrid heat pump from Cooll, and the timing was perfect: exactly three working days before the government gave hybrid heat pumps a strong push in the right direction with the policy goal of mandatory replacement of high-efficiency boilers by 2026). Stefan van Uffelen, former director of the Dutch Green Building Council and known for the BREEAM label, explained that he has been working on the development of this innovative heat pump since 2008.
The SuperHybrid is a lightweight and compact gas-fired thermal heat pump based on space-age technology. The device is intended as a simple and economical replacement for the high-efficiency boiler, over 400,000 of which are still sold every year. The SuperHybrid uses much less electricity than the traditional heat pump, has no outdoor unit or moving parts, makes virtually no noise and uses 30 to 50% less gas than the traditional high-efficiency boiler. Rather than burning gas to heat the home, in this unit the gas power drives the heat pump cycle. The required compression of the refrigerant is not performed by an electromechanical compressor, but by an adsorption compressor. This requires heat, which is supplied by the gas burner.
The device can be simply connected to the existing pipes and also supplies high-temperature heating and hot water. And this heat pump is already configured to handle biogas or hydrogen gas, so it’s prepared for the day when natural gas is ultimately phased out. But at today’s gas prices, Van Uffelen explained, running the SuperHybrid on hydrogen can save you money right now. A connection tp a heat pump system, solar collectors or PV panels is also an option, and this would increase the efficiency even further. The price tag for the unit is expected to fall below 5,000 euros by 2025.
The SuperHybrid will not place any additional burden on the electricity grid and seems an ideal choice for any poorly insulated housing estate. “My heart gets racing when I think about finding a solution for this,” says Van Uffeleln. “There are already great solutions for the wealthy, but the big challenge is to be found in the existing homes of ordinary people who are suffering from energy poverty.” The SuperHybrid is not suitable for newer buildings, because these are no longer being equipped with a gas connection.
Cooll cooperates with various boiler manufacturers and installers and does not sell the technology exclusively to one party. The first pilot setup has already been completed in Kampen, and the first SuperHybrids are expected to be sold by external manufacturers and dealers in 2025. All in all, it’s a solution that everyone in the field can benefit from and, judging by the reactions in the room, many went home with a new, positive outlook on the future of their own homes.