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Using Existing Governance to make retrofitting enhanced Energy Efficiency into Existing Buildings, Easy.



Focus should shift to the operational energy of existing stock, which accounts for 8.6 million metric tons CO2 eqv, a figure set to double by 2030 (UNEP 2009; Levine et al 2007). 

However, the retro-fitting of existing stock requires compact building level, unique to each space solutions. These factors limit the strategies that can be deployed.

One existing technology that can be retro-fitted easily, is compact and can be manipulated to fit any space is Phase Change Material (PCM) whose impact can be enhanced in combination with Thermal Energy Storage (TES).

PCM coupled TES is highly promising existing technology. When deployed, reductions in energy usage by HVAC can reach 50 – 90% (Biswas et al 2013; IRENA 2013; Veer Tyagi & Buddhi 2007). Also, it can aid the decoupling of energy supply with demand, utilising off-peak energy and supplying is at peak times (Haghighat 2013). Guaranteeing peak energy supply is one of the biggest challenges facing Utility companies currently (IEC 2011).

However, market penetration is poor due to cost (IEA-ETSAP and IRENA 2013). This will be resolved via incentivising deployment and through creating ease of deployment, which will generate production efficiencies to reduce unit cost.

This proposal will experimentally prove and design an innovative new wall-board building component which harnesses the best of PCM in-terms of heat absorbency and heat transfer and storage through micro-TES, all in the minimised space in-terms of component width.

All stakeholders will benefit. The tenant though lower utility energy bills and corporation tax, the owner from lowered local taxation related to the retro-fit cost, the Utility companies through reduced peak energy generation demand and Governments through reduced energy systems capital expenditure infrastructure spend, a figure of £110 billion within the U.K. alone (HM Treasury 2013).


Category of the action

Building efficiency: Physical Action

What actions do you propose?

The following actions will be ran in parallel and will cross-fertilise each other. The ultimate goal is to reduce carbon emissions through increased energy efficiencies.

This proposal will do so through overcoming the following contextual barriers:

  1. Governance - Resolve for the lack of available data for validating efficiency improvements.
  2. Technology - Inertia in adoption of new technologies. Especially due to the higher up-front costs, and uncertain performance barriers. 
  3. Building Stock - Overcome the diffuse nature of the building stock. Especially the retrofit space limitations of the existing building stock and fragmented market structure.


Outline of actions

1) Governance - Resolve for the lack of available data for validating efficiency improvements

To overcome this perceived barrier this programme will review the existing governance structures within both utility companies and governmental bodies.

With regards to the utility companies, a thorough review of current business-as-usual energy supply and demand monitoring mechanisms, from the macro state size down to individual building level, will be undertaken. This will generate non-intrusive load monitoring and measurement and verification.

The process for such monitoring data is already in existence, through the EPA in the USA (EPA 2014), DECC in the UK (2014) and EuroStat in the EU (European Commission 2014a), amongst others.

Next, we need to thoroughly review existing Government energy supply and demand infrastructure assessment mechanisms and recent reports at local, regional and national level, which will highlight the need for capital expenditure into the future.

Such reports, again, are already in existence. For example, in the UK the government is looking for £110 billion (HM Treasury 2013:27), the USA (ASCE 2014), and, in the EU (Europa 2011)

Further to this, a thorough review of the current Corporation Tax and local tax (e.g. Council Tax) monitoring mechanisms should be carried out to assess the most appropriate means of verifying and applying appropriate tax reductions.

The goals here are two-fold:

A) To clearly illustrate how the following financial benefits can be realised:

  1. Utility Company: Reduction in Peak Supply.
  2. Government: Reduction in Energy Systems Infrastructure Capital Investment.
  3. Corporations: Reduction in utility bills and Corporation Tax.
  4. Building Owners: Reduction in local taxes.


B) To highlight where slight process adjustments may be needed to ensure they are fit-for-purpose and to ensure ease-of-deployment.

2) Technology - Inertia in adoption of new technologies.

For this proposal, we will look at very promising existing Phase Change Material (PCM) coupled with Thermal Energy Storage (TES). Both of which, suffer from low market penetration currently.

PCM is a substance with a high heat of fusion which when melted and solidified at a certain temperature, is capable of storing and releasing large amounts of energy. PCMs also enable a target-oriented discharging temperature that is set by the constant temperature of the phase change.

The uses of PCMs for heating and cooling applications for buildings have been investigated within the past decade. There are large numbers of PCMs that melt and solidify at a wide range of temperatures, making them attractive in a number of applications (Sharma et al 2009).

Reductions of 4.9 - 23.5% and 4.9 - 44.8% in calculated heat gains and losses have been shown while also maintaining indoor thermal comfort, in some cases, the surface temperature and the air temperature in the room decreased by 3.5 and 2.5C respectively (Biswas et al 2013) a significant reduction when applied to HVAC demand (Veer Tyagi and Buddhi 2007).

Thermal Energy Storage (TES) comes in three forms, but for the purpose of this proposal, we will look at Latent Heat TES (LHTES). LHTES is one of the most promising technologies in terms of energy conservation, grid load alleviation, and maintaining energy security in the built environment (Ning-Wei Chiu 2011).

Joining PCM with TES has the potential of reducing electricity costs of, for example, conditioning air via PCM wall boards whilst aiding the decoupling of supply and demand allowing the use of off-peak electricity. Using off-peak electricity, PCM can be used to store electrical energy in the form of latent heat thermal energy allowing the occupant to heat or cool when required. Therefore, if PSM and LHTES are combined they contribute to the reduction of peak load, and thus, electricity generation demand is reduced by keeping the individual building demand nearly constant, enhancing the energy efficiency of buildings (Haghighat 2013).

This technology is highly promising, however, to date penetration into the market is poor.  One of the main barriers to market entry is cost (IEA-ETSAP and IRENA 2013).  Therefore, a thorough review of the current state of PCM with TES technologies is required to experimentally prove the performance benefits to which to balance the up-front investment.

From this a solution can be designed and selected based on ''biggest-bang-for-buck'' performance which combines ease of deployment within the smallest volume in-terms of width. Thus, solving for the retrofit space limitations of the existing building stock.

The first stage will be to scientifically and experimentally research the current palette of PCMs in-order to select the type that has the most efficient blend of heat absorbency and heat transfer. To achieve this blend, this research will study injecting the PCMs with high heat transfer materials that minimise the reduction in its heat absorbency characteristics.  Secondly, this research will try to minimise embodied energy through experimental proving of non-petroleum based PCMs and full LCA.

This proposals goals for its TES research is two-fold:

i) Research current TES technologies, specifically those that utilise heat exchanger plates and heat store liquids, to prove the most efficient combination in-terms of heat transference and heat store. 

ii) Experimentally prove how to design this combination into a wall-board building component with minimum depth, that is, designing micro-TES. Additionally, two forms of wall-board will be designed, one where the heat storage is transferred out from the space through circulated storage liquid medium to heat a downstream liquid store to be used, for example, in pre-heating water, the other, where the liquid store is non-circulatory, whose heat is therefore used to condition the adjoining space for longer.

The research will then move to combine the selected PCM with the selected heat transfer and store wall-board component, experimentally proving the most efficient combination.

Lastly, the air permeability and moisture creation performance characteristics will be researched in-order to select and apply various material barriers to minimise any negative impacts utilisation could generate.

This research rigor will satisfy the uncertain performance barrier. While there are a plethora of scholarly reviews of these technologies, such as Guiavarch et al (2013), this proposal will advance current thought through its innovative combination of these technologies, while experimentally proving the finalised component.

A proven new building component material will therefore be created, one that increases building energy efficiency through reduction in the energy needed to condition the space, while doing so without compromising the existing space volume; being versatile to fit unique spaces; and increasing these technologies uptake through its ease of effort to deploy.

3) Building Stock - Overcome the diffuse nature of the building stock and fragmented market structure

We need to engage the business community to generate both ideas and concerns.  This information would feed into both the Governance and Technology groups, for appropriate resolution.

The ultimate goal here is to show ease-of-deployment, at no net cost, highlighting the additional costs saved through reduced utility bills, and generate a sign-up list of businesses.

The ease-of-deployment, coupled with utilising one specified technology which currently has poor market penetration, solves for the issue of “free-riding’’ which has been prevalent in other Tax Incentive programmes (UNDP 2009).  Furthermore, active engagement will account for the fact that building owners are best positioned to make efficiency investments, but building tenants are often responsible for paying energy bills (IPCC 2007a).

Finally, we need to gain KICK START funding to fund the first couple of deployments to resolve for the perceived high up-front-costs.

This money will be replenished via the reduction in corporation tax via the corporation in question. This resolves the final challenge that can defray the up-front costs of efficiency investment, whilst also dealing with the short relevant payback time for building owners by having no payback period for them at all, and for the building tenants, they see immediate reduction in electricity usage and within a year, lower corporation taxes.  Therefore, this proposal incentivises all the market stakeholders.

Once aforementioned goals are achieved solution delivery must be considered.  The theoretical ease-of-deployment must be a reality.  Therefore, how the retro-fit is completed must be fully mapped out and a pilot planned.

Who will take these actions?

The programme needs an over-arching facilitator. A selected SME, ideally with knowledge of all the relevant actors needs to be deployed. This entity then chairs the following groups:

  • Governance:  The first role of this facilitator will be to find the contact points and enablers within utility companies and Governmental departments.


  • Technology:  A collection of private (the majority SMEs), public and non-governmental entities, led by the Facilitator entity, will be selected by their area of expertise:
  1. Private:  SME(s) innovative renewable technology company
  2. Private: SME(s) sustainability consultancy
  3. Public: Research Institution(s)
  4. Public: Funding Institution(s)
  5. NGO(s): Climate change


  • Business:  The Facilitator also speaks to the business community. A group consisting of the Business Institute relevant to the nation/region, and targeted individual Corporations, starting with those with excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility, coupled with the Building Owners relevant Institution, and individual Building Owners, is created.


  • Delivery: The last group that needs to be created are the entities that will actually deliver the solution.  This group will consist of representatives from the aforementioned groups, plus local SME companies whose specialties include retro-fitting, renewable technology fitting and logistics.


  • Pilot: Once we have verified fit-for-purpose, or a pathway of actions that lead to this level, we test run.

Where will these actions be taken?

These actions will start in the developed world firstly because the existing governmental structures and institutions are, arguably, stronger and therefore, we are more likely to find a good level of existing structures we can utilise (IPCC 2007b)

Additionally, and importantly, emissions in developed countries far outstrip developing countries (IPCC 2014)

I would house this programme firstly in the EU and gain the support of the already fairly strong EU climate change programmes (European Commission 2014b).

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

These will be unique as they are related to individual buildings. 

However, using the following eg

1 Existing PCM Wallboards

2 Existing UK office, 1518m2 work area

3 HVAC heating and cooling system

4 Summer 25C peak T

5 Winter 16C bottom T

6 Target T 21C

7 HVAC set-points are 21C & 18C for summer and winter

8  25 kWh/m2/yr Heating demand, cooling demand 21 kWh/m2/yr (Korolija et al 2010)

PCM wallboards decrease the room T by 2.5C.  In the cooling phase work demand is reduced by 60%.  In the heating phase, demand time is reduced by 40%, through storing the HVAC heating overrun past design T, releasing it slowly over time, keeping the space at the design T for longer.

This results in a saving of 12.6 kWh/m2/yr in cooling & 10 kWh/m2/yr in heating.  Total is 34000 kWh/yr saved. 

Using UK Peak Time Fossil Fuel Electricity and using DECC conversion, this equates to 15000 kgC02e/yr.  Furthermore, adding TES into the HVAC system reduces the HVAC effort even further, by up to 90% (IEA-ETSAP & IRENA 2013).

What are other key benefits?

  1. Recued carbon emissions.
  2. Reduced up-front-costs and overall zero cost position.
  3. Reduced utility bills.
  4. Reduced need for further capital expenditure on energy systems.
  5. Applicable to more than PCM & TES technology
  6. Scalable to Residential Buildings.
  7. Increased penetration of existing renewable technology.
  8. Enhanced market cohesion between building owners and corporations.
  9. Enhanced Data Monitoring.

What are the proposal’s costs?

Costs are still high for PCM and especially for PCM with TES due to the current poor market penetration curtailing the demand reducing price. Following the example used above, and assuming the building is retrofitted with PCM wallboards, such as, the Datum Phase Change FES, which costs on average $50m2. Therefore, for a 1518m2 retrofit materials cost $80,000 (Homebuilding and Renovating 2014).

Adding in TES into the HVAC system, can cost up to $15 per kWh of storage (IEA-ETSAP and IRENA 2013).  If the TES further reduces the remaining kWh/m2/yr in our example, that’s 90% of 12000 kWh/m2/yr, or 10,800 kWh/m2/yr at a cost of $162,000.

These costs will project downwards as market penetration increases through enhancements in production efficiencies and enhanced economies-of-scale, reducing manufacturing costs.

It is also necessary to add labour costs, the SME(s) time in the programme, facilitation, research, development phases and project.  With this in mind a programme Kick-Start fund of c$1m for programme start-up through to pilot run.

Time line

One of the most appealing aspects of this proposal is that is based existing structures and, near complete, technologies. This initiative can be achieved in the short-term, that is, within 5 years. We just have to mobilise.

Related proposals

I am not aware of linked proposals but linked contests could be:

  • US Carbon Price
  • Industry Innovation
  • U.S Government
  • Energy Supply
  • What your organisation can do


ASCE (2014) Report Card for America’s Infrastructure,

Biswas, K. et al (2013) Field Testing of Nano-PCM Enhanced Building Envelope Components, US DOE,

DECC (2014) Using evidence & analysis to inform energy and climate change policies,

European Commission (2014a) Eurostat,

European Commission (2014b) EU Action on Climate Change,

Europa (2011) Information on investment projects in energy infrastructure,

EPA (2014), Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions,

Guiavarch, A. et al (2014) Evaluation of Thermal Effect of PCM Wall boards by Coupling Simplified Phase Change Model with Design Tool, Journal of Building Construction and Planning Research,  2, 12 - 29

Haghighat, F. (2013) State of the Art Review: Applying Energy Storage in Building of the Future, IEA Energy Technology Network,

HM Treasury (2013) Investing in Britain’s Future,

Homebuilding & Renovating (2014) Phase Change Materials,

IEA-ETSAP & IRENA (2013), Thermal Energy Storage: Technology Brief,

IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) (2011), Electrical Energy Storage: White Paper,

IPCC (2007a) Barriers,

IPCC (2007b) Institutional Frameworks

IPCC (2014) Fifth Assessment Report,

Korolija, I. et al (2010) HVAC Systems Energy Demand vs. Building Energy Demand, De Montfort University,

Ning-Wei Chiu, J. (2011) Heat Transfer Aspects of Using Phase Change Material in Thermal Energy Storage Applications, KTH School of Industrial Engineering and Management

Sharma, A. et al (2009) Review on thermal energy storage with phase change materials & applications, Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews,13,  318 – 345

Veer Tyagi, V. & Buddhi, D. (2007) PCM Thermal Storage in Buildings: A state of art, Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, 11, 1146 – 1166

UNEP SBCI (2009) Buildings and Climate Change, UNEP DTIE,

UNDP (2009), Promoting Energy Efficiency in buildings,