Tallinn University of Technology

Nearly Zero Energy Buildings Research Group

Zero energy buildings theme consolidates research topics of energy performance, building physics, indoor climate, building services and of some architectural elements like massing and daylight.

nZEB Research Group represent key competencies of the following research areas:

  • Building physics
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)
  • Indoor climate
  • Energy performance of buildings

Key research initiatives are targeted to the development of technical solutions and calculation methods for highly energy performing and zero energy buildings within active cooperation with other research areas such as architecture, construction economics, building materials and energy production which all well represented in ongoing Zero Energy Center of Excellence in Research ZEBE. Another important research field is formed by topics of renovation of buildings and improvement of existing building stock.

Nearly Zero Energy Buildings nZEB Research Group was established in 2012 and it is being built on previous chairs of building physics and HVAC which both have extensively long history at TTÜ. Within it short life time, nZEB Research Group is contributed to the development of Estonian energy performance calculation framework and methodology, to the preparation of technical definitions and system boundaries of nearly zero energy buildings on European level and to the development of Estonian nZEB requirements. Estonia was a second country in EU publishing nZEB requirements which provided as long as possible preparatory period for the construction industry and good possibilities to develop innovative technical solutions with high export potential.

Ave Eessalu liginull

nZEB Technological Test Facility

Modern technological NZEB test facility, constructed in 2013, allows to use several room configurations in order to simulate office, school or residential buildings. It is well suitable for façade and solar shading measurements, because large parts of facades can be replaced. The test facility is configured as NZEB including ventilation, cooling, ground source heat pump system with new type spiral collector as well as PV, solar thermal, solar shading with motorized external blinds and photocell controlled dimmable LED lighting. Currently, measurement setups have been built to north and south orientated walls especially for moisture performance analyses of highly insulated external walls. Indoor climatic conditions, including humidity, are well controllable. Heating system studies conducted so far cover thermal comfort with different heating solutions, heat emitters efficiency and performance of room temperature controllers and thermostats. Residential ventilation system studies have analysed the performance of single room ventilation units and air change efficiency of typical residential ventilation products. NZEB experimental test facility is complemented with laboratory equipment consisting of interior and exterior climate chambers and a structure to be studied between them. This enables to study building envelope components and HVAC equipment at controlled climatic conditions. Some examples are frost resistance measurements of interior insulation systems and frost formation measurements of heat exchangers of ventilation units.

Contact:
Jarek Kurnitski
Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture

620 2406

jarek.kurnitski@taltech.ee

Ongoing projects

1.12.2019−30.11.2026

The FINEST Twins project will build a multidisciplinary smart-city Center of Excellence that will match the leading smart city research centers globally and focus on all five key domains of clean and sustainable smart city development: mobility, energy and built environment glued together by governance and urban analytics & data management (research streams). The FINEST Twins will have a globally unique focus on developing user-driven clean and sustainable smart city solutions that are “cross-border-by-default” in the context of emerging twin city between Tallinn and Helsinki

1.10.2019−30.09.2024

DRIVE 0 aims to come to a decarbonization of the EU building stock and to accelerate deep renovation processes by enhancing a consumer centred circular renovation process in order to make deep renovation more attractive for consumers and investors, more environmental friendly. This by combining the need for a circular building industry with the identification of specific local or national drivers to trigger and to motivate end-users for deep renovation, supported by an anthropology based and environmentally friendly approach to make it costumer-centred and respectful of local geo-material areas, by following 4 steps: 1. Developing proven deep renovation products and concepts for example from several recent EU projects, further to circular renovation products and concepts based on local available materials and components, with emphasis on easy to install Plug & Play prefab solutions for envelope elements and building services. 2. Developing attractive consumer centred business models based on circular renovation concepts supported by digitalization and gamification. 3. Providing occupants with attractive and understandable information on total building performances in use. 4. Providing stakeholders evidence of performance of the developed solutions by local study and demonstration cases initiated by ‘local drivers’. The objectives are: 1: To develop proven Plug & Play prefab deep renovation solutions for building elements and building services towards circular renovation products. 2: To provide consumers and potential investors of deep renovation projects with attractive and understandable information of real total performances (energy use, indoor environment and well-being). 3: To demonstrate circular renovation solutions in combination with local drivers in live demonstration cases. 4: To foster new consumer centred business models for circular renovation concepts. 5: To roll out the concept on a wider EU scale by involving EU interest groups.

ETIS

1.10.2015−1.03.2023

ZEBE Center of Excellence in Research (CER) contributes to energy and resource efficiency improvement in buildings and districts. It is based on Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (nZEB), Power Electronics and Demand Side Management (IEEM) and Wooden Structures and Composites (WSC) research groups of Tallinn University of Technology (TUT), and Institute of Physics of University of Tartu (UT) and Rural Building research group of Estonian University of Life Sciences (EMÜ). ZEBE CER consolidates researchers and key competences of these five existing research groups in three Estonian universities active in ZEBE domain. ZEBE CER proposal contributes to Estonian Smart Specialization growth area of More Efficient Use of Resources, Smart and more efficient construction of buildings. On European level ZEBE CER proposal contributes to European objective of 20% primary energy savings in 2020 that is one of the five headline targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Research is focused to zero energy, embodied energy and recourse efficiency, and renewable energy topics which are structured into three research groups: • Zero energy and resource efficient smart buildings (nZEB research group); • Resource efficient wooden structures and composites (WSC research group); • Intelligent and efficient energy management for ZEB (IEEM research group). nZEB research group will focus on research of new technical solutions for zero energy buildings considering both building envelope and HVAC-systems, and design process improvements regarding utilization of BIM and passive measures. WSC research group aims to improve the resource efficiency through wider use of wooden materials by solving critical fire safety and manufacturing issues of wooden structures and composites being current barriers. IEEM research group will concentrate its research efforts on the energy generation, storage, distribution and optimal use inside the ZEB. To achieve the highest possible flexibility, energy performance and reliability the power flow control in ZEB will be realized by means of power electronic converters with special focus on synthesis and experimental study of novel converter topologies adopted for ZEB applications. Finally, nZEB and IEEM will join forces to study interactions between buildings and energy system by district scale energy use and generation modelling and management with the aim to develop a novel methodology allowing to assess the building level energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions effects on the total energy system performance.

ETIS

1.09.2019−31.08.2022

The main aim of U-CERT is to introduce a next generation of user-centred Energy Performance Certification Schemes to value buildings in a holistic and cost-effective manner. U-CERT aims to: - Facilitate convergence of quality and reliability, using the EPB standards, developed under the M/480 mandate, enabling a technology neutral approach that is transparently presenting the national and regional choices on a comparable basis using the Annex A/B approach; - Encourage the development and application of holistic user-centred innovative solutions, including the smart readiness of buildings; - Encourage and support end-users in decision making (e.g. on deep renovation), nudge for better purchasing and to instill trust by giving clear credits and view on added (building) value, using EPC’s. U-CERT has a focus on strengthening actual implementation of the EPBD by providing and applying insights from a user perspective and creating a level playing field for sharing implementation experience, (Mandate M/480 and product related) to all involved stakeholders, facilitated and empowered by the EPB Center.

ETIS

1.10.2019−31.12.2020

This project will conduct research needed for the preparation of the long term renovation strategy. The outcome should provide solid input to the strategy and action plan preparation. The aim of the strategy is to renovate all the existing building stock to nearly zero energy performance level by 2050, that corresponds to energy performance certificate class C. In order to determine the amounts and costs of the building stock to be renovated within 30 years, the loss of the building stock will be estimated based on real estate prices and demographic trends. The measures enabling to execute the renovation of residential and non-residential buildings will be analyzed. In the context of the loss of the building stock, strengthening of small cities will be analysed by means of renovation and possible new construction which should satisfy the need of the population moving out of old buildings which will be demolished.

ETIS

2.02.2018−31.12.2020

This project will develop model technical solutions for nearly zero energy school buildings. The scope covers classroom and some other major rooms air distribution solutions, ventilation ductwork sizing, overheating prevention solutions including facades shadings as well as demand controlled ventilation operation, daylight utilisation and window sizing principles as well as passive solutions for atrium spaces. The results will be reported in the form of model design solutions with high replicability potential in new and renovated school buildings.

ETIS

1.01.2018−31.12.2020

This university development project aims to strengthen the competences of the department in five scientific domains which all have important practical applications in Estonian economy. These cover building information modelling, geoid iterative modelling in coastal region, new architectural design methods based on daylight and energy, passive ventilation and fluid dynamics.

ETIS

5.07.2019−30.06.2020

This project aims to quantify how much the high performance thermal insulation can compensate the increase of electricity use and peak powers caused by extensive application of heat pumps in residential buildings.

ETIS

8.07.2019−31.05.2020

This project aims to specify renovation concepts with adequate heating and ventilation as well as overheating prevention or cooling solutions in three European climates from North to South, based on Estonian, German and Italian apartment buildings and corresponding local solutions. The renovation concepts should fulfill the energy requirements set by local authorities for major renovation that are often called as nearly zero energy requirements for major renovation. The results can be utilized in the implementation of the long term renovation strategy.

ETIS

1.01.2019−31.12.2023

The project is strictly focused on producing new information with high reliability potential to manage the risk of building failure through improved moisture safety of interior insulation, constructional moisture and thermally efficient building envelopes. The project contributes to the new EPBD objective of decarbonised national building stock by 2050 and the CIB W040 Research Roadmap to increase moisture safety in buildings so that new buildings and deep energy renovations will be safe from moisture problems. To achieve this aim, the following challenging research tasks will be solved: • Interior thermal insulation for brick exterior walls in cold climates • Safe drying of constructional moisture • Development of prefabricated wooden building envelopes • Significant reduction in the unexpected heat loss of building envelopes • Integration of moisture safety of buildings into the common design process

ETIS

1.06.2019−31.05.2022

The main goal of En-ActivETICS project is to develop Energy Activated External Thermal Insulation Composite System for smart building envelope, by combination of traditional low thermal conductivity insulation system ETICS with high heat capacity phase change material (PCM) and flexible photovoltaic (FPV) system generating electrical power. The proposed solution is a new step in development of building facade technology allowing to achieve a component classified to the group of functional material. The innovative character of the project arises due to the research and technological challenge which is the development of novel, cost and energy effective building component, examination of its thermal and mechanical properties as well as validation and demonstration of the proposed solution in relevant environment. The final result of the project will be comprehensively tested En-ActivETICS, revealing the capability to adjust its physical properties for better building performance.

ETIS

1.09.2017−31.08.2020

The project develops and demonstrates nearly Zero Energy Wood Buildings design process and procurement models with reduced cost for large-scale use in the northern climatic conditions and on performance level of nearly zero and beyond. The project promotes large-scale market uptake of the developed nearly Zero Energy Wood Building applicable for construction industry design and procurement process. On site and nearby renewable energy system solutions are studied in order to provide real addition of renewable and energy production of on-site energy system. In addition to the nearly zero energy performance level, the project is also focusing on the performance level, which does beyond the nZEB level. Demonstration tasks on net-zero and energy-plus level will be also executed in the project. Analysis of the technical solutions including renewable energy systems will also reach to the plus-energy level because several nZEB buildings studied in the project will be plus-energy buildings. The project develops and demonstrates methods and solutions, which significantly reduce the cost of new nearly Zero Energy Wood Buildings compared to the current situation. The project develops standard design process and procurement models for cost reduction for different building types for the Northern Europe climatic conditions. The cost reduction of the nearly Zero Energy Wood Buildings is shown in the project by means of the demonstration projects including both residential and non-residential single buildings. Wood buildings can result in 50 % reduced GHG emissions compared to conventional buildings with steel and concrete structures.

ETIS

1.10.2018−30.09.2020

Currently, it is difficult to compare the energy performance of buildings located in different European countries due to variations in methodologies and climates, which complicates assessing progress towards meeting EU energy use related targets. The aims of this project are illustrating office buildings’ energy use in different climates and energy performance levels, developing an energy performance scale and investigating the strictness of nZEB requirements in selected European countries. The study will be based on modelling high performance office buildings from Estonia, Sweden and Norway, comparison with measured energy use and finally simulating the energy use with numerous locations and technical solutions. The simulations will be conducted with both local and European methodologies. The project provides useful information about cost-optimal office building solutions in different European locations and input to development of energy performance related legislation and standards.

ETIS

PhD students

Supervisor: Prof. Hedrik Voll  Co-supervisor: prof. Jarek Kurnitski

Using the heat recovery ventilation to ensure the air exchange and indoor climate in apartment buildings

ETIS

Supervisor: Prof. Hedrik Voll  Co-supervisor prof. Jarek Kurnitski

Mechanical ventilation and indoor air quality

ETIS

Supervisor: Prof. Jarek Kurnitski

Heating and cooling solutions for buildings with nearly zero energy consumption

ETIS

Supervisor: Prof. Jarek Kurnitski  Co-supervisor: prof. Martin Thalfeldt

Air distribution and heat gains in non-residental buildings

ETIS

Supervisor: Prof. Jarek Kurnitski   Co-supervisor: Prof Martin Thalfeldt

Heating system control and emission efficiency in nZEB buildings

ETIS

Supervisor: Prof. Jarek Kurnitski   Co-supervisor: prof. Juhan Idnurm

The optimal cost of site invetigation in relation to the total building cost in Estonia

ETIS

Supervisor: Prof. Jarek Kurnitski  Co-supervisor: Prof Martin Thalfeldt

Methodology for simplified and instant monthly energy calculation for residential buildings

ETIS

Supervisor: Prof. Jarek Kurnitski   Co-supervisor: emeriitprofessor Teet-Andrus Kõiv

The efficiency analysis of the Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) spiral collectors in the Estonian climatic conditions

ETIS

 

Supervisor: Prof. Jarek Kurnitski

Heating system emission efficiency parameters for energy calculations

ETIS

Supervisor: Prof. Targo Kalamees

Minimizing of heat loss of nZEB building envelope

ETIS

Supervisor: Prof. targo Kalamees   Co-supervisor: prof. emeritus Teet-Andrus Kõiv

Achieving energy performance of renovated apartment buildings

ETIS

Supervisor: Prof. Targo Kalamees

Increasing moisture safety and energy performance of buildings by using BIM

ETIS

Supervisor : Prof. Targo Kalamees

Hygrothermal performance of masonry walls retrofitted with interior insulation in cold climate

ETIS

Supervisor: Prof. Targo Kalamees   Co-supervisor: Jaan Kers

Hygrothermal performance of cross laminated timber envelopes

ETIS

Supervisor: Prof. Targo Kalamees

Hygrothermal performance of low and nearly zero energy building envelope

ETIS