The European Commission, Council and European Parliament all agree that “Member States shall ensure that building owners, tenants and managers can have direct access to their building systems’ data” and that “At their request, the access or data shall be made available to a third party.” This is good; it allows building owners, tenants or managers to send their data to third parties who may be able to improve the way the building is operated.
But the EPBD must go further: anonymised data should be publicly available. Allowing public access to data that covers many buildings increases the pool of data that advanced software can mine to reveal the combinations of technologies for optimal energy performance – and the best way of operating them – for a building with specific characteristics.
Supporting EED’s target to renovate 3% of public buildings’ floor area per year
The EU has committed to a vast renovation programme in which each Member State must ensure that at least 3% of the floor area of its public buildings is renovated to “nearly-zero-energy”- or zero-emission- standard. This is a big shift. For context, between 2015 and 2021, direct emissions from buildings only decreased by 6%. To secure the most benefits from such a programme, collecting and sharing buildings’ energy system data is essential. Careful scrutiny of the rich datasets from renovated buildings will reveal the optimal choices to make in future renovations.
Anonymise it but don’t aggregate it
The cheapest and most valuable way to safely share data is anonymisation without aggregation. Aggregation involves numerical manipulation; robust anonymisation would maintain privacy while preserving the fine detail of data that makes it scientifically useful. Under an anonymisation-only approach, the costs of preparing data for public transmission would be nearly the same as preparing it in response to a request per the first part of Article 14.
The Common European Energy Data Space: Buildings and open data
Managing access to data is work the EU has already begun through the Common European Energy Data Space (CEEDS) framework, set to be deployed by 2024. CEEDS is the European Commission-sponsored infrastructure that could reduce the administrative burden of implementing the data-sharing provision. The companies gathering building systems data would need to create a connector to CEEDS, then requests for data access may be managed through the CEEDS protocols, thereby reducing the administrative burden of an EPBD data-sharing initiative.