DR-BOB Demand Response in Blocks of Buildings

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DR BOB – Demand Response in Blocks of Buildings

Demand Response in Blocks of Buildings.

Co-funded by The European Commission, under the Horizon 2020 Programme (H2020), DR-BOB aims to demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits of demand response in blocks of buildings for the actors required to bring it to market.

The challenge

Utility companies need to generate enough energy to meet the high demand spikes caused by a large number of people who use energy at the same time. Also, power grids need to be able to respond to this demand. Energy systems are inefficient and costly, as demand often exceeds capacity.

As electric energy cannot be easily stored the problem is most acute in the electricity sector. Utilities have traditionally matched electricity demand and supply by controlling the rate of electricity generation.  Therefore things are further complicated when we connect renewables to energy networks which produce energy when the sun shines or the wind blows, rather than when we need it. 

The increasing popularity of electric cars may also increase peak demand as commuters plug them into electricity networks at the same time.

Blocks of buildings offer more flexibility in the timing of energy use, local energy generation and energy storage than single buildings. But a lack of suitable products and technologies make this problematic.


Demand response programmes, which encourage consumers to change when they use electricity or reduce their total energy use, can help keep energy bills low and help integrate renewables into our existing energy networks.

Peak electricity demand can be reduced by:

  • shifting when some electrical equipment is used;
  • using electrical equipment more efficiently;
  • using other types of energy;
  • storing locally generated renewable electricity and using it during times of peak demand.

If we can reduce peak electricity demand we can reduce the investments required in electricity production and electricity networks. These savings can then be passed onto consumers in the form of lower energy bills.

The DR-BOB project will pilot the tools and techniques required for demand response in blocks of buildings with differing patterns of ownership, use and occupation at:

  • Teesside University campus in Middlesbrough in the UK,
  • A business and technology park in Anglet in France,
  • A hospital complex in Brescia in Italy,
  • The campus of the Technical University of Cluj Napoca in Romania.

The optimisation will be adjusted to either maximise economic profit or to minimise CO2 emissions according to user requirements.

The solution will be intelligent in the sense that it is automated and can adapt to fluctuations in the energy demand or production, subject to dynamic price tariffs and changing weather conditions.

The DR-BOB solution combines tools and technologies to provide an innovative scalable cloud based central management system with a, local real-time energy management that communicates with each building management and generation / storage solutions in blocks of buildings.

The key technologies in the solution are:

  • A Demand Response Manager – Siemens DEMS®
  • A Local Energy Manager (LEM) –Teesside University IDEAS project Product
  • A Consumer Portal – GridPocket EcoTroks™

The DR-BOB solution provides control at different scales. From the control of multiple blocks of buildings to the control of the energy systems at the building level.

It utilises existing standards like IEC60870-5-104 and OpenADR. The architecture that enables new adaptors to be added to support new standards in the future. This allows access to most generation, storage and load assets.

The DR-BOB solution provides open connectivity to both SCADA/utility communications and customer side AMIs. It can optimise supply side and demand response between blocks of buildings and other infrastructures, with automatic distribution of results via Building Management Systems. This simplifies commercial customer or resident participation in demand response.

UK pilot site – Teesside University

The main campus is in the centre of Middlesbrough in the North East of England. It occupies an area of approximately three hectares. Some 20,104 students and 2,319 staff work and study in the 33 buildings. These include offices technical labs, lecture theatres and 5 halls of residential for students.

Teesside University aims to become one of the UK’s most environmentally friendly institutions.

Teesside’s Carbon Management Plan aims to reduce the University’s carbon footprint by 43% by 2020 compared to 2005 levels.

The university has invested 22 million pounds in the new Campus Heart opened in the summer of 2015. Designed to be sustainable it is energy efficient with low carbon technologies and photovoltaics. Another 300 million pounds earmarked for further improvements in the next 10 years.

The campus is a ‘Silver’ Eco-Campus accredited by ISO 14001 Environmental Management System and platinum status is the next goal.

French pilot site – Business Park

The site in south west France in the Montaury district of Anglet. The buildings include:

The training centre of Compagnons du Tour de France building trades. Built in 2009 this energy positive building has a High Quality Environmental standard (HQE) Certificate. Its’ roof has 250m² of PV panels the heating is provided a boiler fuelled by the waste wood produced at the centre.
NOBATEK’s research centre occupying a building with a Low BBC energy label.

A Business Incubator, with classrooms and workshops, dedicated to sustainable bio-construction start-ups. This building is energy positive with a HQE and BREAM certification.

The college Lycée CANTAU campus, which consists of 17 buildings including offices, technical labs, classrooms, and halls of residence. Some 1420 students and around 80 staff work and study in the campus.

Italian pilot site – Fondazione Poliambulanza Hospital

A multi-specialty private not for profit hospital located in Brescia, in Northern Italy specialising in, acute care and surgery and engaged in emergency care.

The Hospital occupies an area of approximately nine hectares, on which are located 4 buildings, a technical building for power generation and distribution and four car parks.

The total net floor area of the buildings is 60,000 m2. The hospital employs 1,822 people and more than 560,000 patients are admitted every year.

The energy used in the Hospital comes from different sources, such as electric energy, district heating, natural gas and photovoltaic energy produced by solar panels. Fondazione Poliambulanza is seeking to reduce energy consumption by adopting new strategies in energy purchase and management and investing in high efficiency installations.

Romanian pilot site – Technical University of Cluj-Napoca

The campus is situated near Cluj-Napoca in the heart of Transylvania, in the north west of Romania.
It occupies an area of approximately 108.40sqm. Almost 20,000 students and 1000 staff work and study in the campus buildings which houses offices, technical labs and lecture theatres etc. In total the campus has 32 buildings, 4 of which provide residential accommodation for students.

The Technical University of Cluj-Napoca has been awarded with ‘Advanced Research and Education University’ with the Order of the Ministry of National Education.

An enthusiastic team of 11 energy specialists within the Technical University are working on energy reduction initiatives which engage with students and teaching professionals resulting in a commitment across the university to improve energy efficiency and a strong knowledge base on how to achieve this goal.

The Technical University is involved in knowledge transfer across the wider community enabling the university to be a catalyst of change for energy efficiency in buildings and industry.

In 2015 the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca was awarded a special Jury prize for the best Romanian energy efficiency initiative, in the frame of the Romanian Energy Awards.

Project Partners

The DR-BOB Collaborative Project (Grant Agreement No. 696114) is co-funded by the European Commission, Information Society and Media Directorate-General, under the Horizon 2020 Programme (H2020).