Guest Blog: Building Data to Support Energy and Carbon Policies in Brazil

Network News 09 Jul 2018

By Dr Xinfang Wang and Dr Oluyemi Jegede, University of Birmingham

On Alameda Santos, in the downtown area of Sao Paulo, Brazil, participants from Brazil and the UK came together for a highly anticipated workshop on energy data.

Over three days, between the 23rd and 25th of April 2018, participants from a wide range of disciplines and sectors discussed and exchanged ideas on issues surrounding energy epidemiology in Brazil. These issues revolved around five main themes (benchmarking, data analytics, regulations, monitoring and evaluation and user influences on performance) with the aim of providing the evidence base for policy makers to prioritise building data for supporting energy and carbon policy in Brazil.

Aerial View of Sao Paulo city

The event - a Newton Fund Research Link workshop - was organized by University College London (UCL) and the Laboratory for Energy Efficiency in Buildings at Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC), in partnership with the International Energy Agency: Energy in Buildings and Communities Programme: Annex 70.

The evolution of the Brazilian energy sector

The first two days of the workshop featured some high impact presentations and panel discussions. As an opening highlight, Professor Roberto Lamberts showcased the evolution of the Brazilian energy sector, and how it compares on a continental and global level. It was insightful to learn that in a typical Brazilian residence, space cooling now accounts for over 20% of total energy use, compared to 3% in 1997; and commercial space cooling accounts for over 50% of total commercial energy use. This goes to show that space cooling has been and will continue to be an important focal point for building energy demand reduction. Professor Lamberts further presented an assessment of the market for air conditioning in Brazil, stating that about 7 million split units and window room air conditioners were sold in Brazil in 2014. Finally, he made mention of issues around standards, labels and certifications in Brazil.

A cross-section of the workshop participants

The UK perspective

Introducing a UK perspective, Professor Tadj Oreszczyn delivered an objective presentation on the UK’s building energy stock. He stated that industrial emissions in the UK have been on the decline for some time, but that may be due to the exporting of manufacturing activities out of the UK to countries like China. Professor Oreszczyn also gave a detailed presentation on the UK commercial building energy stock based on building use.

While some speakers gave deep insights into the relevant issues, others challenged the way the issues were being appraised. Such was the nature of Dr Kathryn Janda’s presentation, titled “Beyond User Expectations”. She implored the audience to think of buildings in a socio-technical way, highlighting the importance of appreciating the diversity of buildings based on the people who use them. In the same vein, Professor Gilberto Jannuzzi gave a new perspective on the assessment of energy policy timelines and their overall effectiveness or success.

The importance of data

All the break-out sessions were fun, engaging and intellectually stimulating, highlighting key issues around a theme and solutions to tackle them. For instance, in the data analytics session, data ownership and responsibility of use were highlighted as major challenges in addition to data comparability and social issues such as ethics of data collection and data collection agency. Some of the solutions discussed in relation to these highlighted challenges include the creation of robust standards to guarantee the compatibility, quality and completeness of buildings data. This way, comparisons can be carried out easily across different jurisdictions. Further, a peer-review system was proposed to ascertain the quality of data.

Regulation

The regulations break-out session also featured very interesting discussions, such as whether regulations are needed at all. Issues were discussed around what to regulate for in Brazil ─ is it energy, or comfort, or peak demand? Policy mechanisms such as ‘net zero buildings’ have focused on energy rather than carbon emissions due to the large percentage of renewable energy used in Brazil; is there a need for policies to focus more on greenhouse gas emissions in the future? Dr Xinfang Wang and Dr Oluyemi Jegede from the University of Birmingham also presented during the breakout sessions. Their presentations focused on the potential of energy storage in buildings in Brazil’s energy system, with emphases on the challenges around data, regulations and user influences to be addressed.

The workshop ended with a summit on the third day, with invited attendees from different government departments and NGOs in Brazil. Dr Ian Hamilton from UCL presented outcomes to the invited participants from the two-day academic workshop, identifying key challenges from the five workshop themes and proposing actions to tackle these challenges. Chris Nicholls from the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) presented and shared the UK government’s experiences on energy and building data structures on both non-domestic and domestic buildings.

Brazilian energy policy

For relevant experience in Brazil, Samira Carmo from the Brazil Ministry for Mines and Energy, and Thiago Pastorelli from the Brazil Energy Research Office, presented research undertaken and policies on energy and buildings in order to help achieve Brazil’s target of 10% reduction in electricity consumption by 2030. Discussion reflected challenges on how to develop evidence-based energy efficiency policies on buildings with measurable impacts. Experts in Brazil highlighted the problem of having access to data that exist. They also proposed that different government departments should collaborate more and agree on the guidance and procedure for getting access to data, as well as protecting the businesses that provide the data.

Overall, the workshop was a success. Many underlying issues where dissected in detail in the common and breakout sessions and practical solutions were proffered. It was everyone’s belief that since the workshop intentionally engaged with high ranking members of relevant government organisations, that these solutions would go on to be implemented with the necessary public support. Furthermore, the networking opportunities afforded the participants by the workshop should translate into high impact collaborations around building data and energy policy in the future.

About the authors
Dr Xinfang Wang

Xinfang is currently a Research Fellow on energy policy and institutional framework at the Energy System and Policy Analysis group, University of Birmingham. She works on a list of projects, such as the EPSRC funded ‘Realising Energy Storage Technologies in Low-carbon Energy Systems’ (RESTLESS) and ‘Generation Integrated Energy Storage’ (GIES) projects, as well as an Energy Storage Innovation project as part of the SUPERGEN Energy Storage Hub.

Dr Oluyemi Jegede

Oluyemi is currently a Knowledge Exchange Fellow on the ERDF funded Accelerating Thermal Energy Technology Adoption (ATETA) project. ATETA aims to promote research and innovation in the adoption of low carbon technologies of SME’s that are active in the Greater Birmingham Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership area. Oluyemi’s main research focuses on the development of novel energy system models, gathering and analysing data for input to the novel models and using model results to improve understanding of the role and value energy storage has in selected systems.

Find out more

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