HEART – The sum of all things

Bagnolo in Piano, Italy Construction and Development, Data and ICT solutions, Environment and Resource efficiency, Local social sustainability, Target groups of housing
EU funded project
“Transformation of existing buildings into nZEBs through multi-technological synergistic systems to guarantee the highest levels of energy efficiency, economic feasibility and comfort for tenants. ”


HEART (Holistic Energy and Architectural Retrofit Toolkit) is an EU Horizon 2020 project, involving 16 partners in 10 countries with a geographical focus on Central and Southern Europe.

The core of HEART is a cloud-based computing platform that includes decision-making and energy management features. The HEART toolkit thus becomes the heart of a building, regulating its energy consumption and energy flow.

One of the first demos is in Bagnolo (Italy) and is managed by social housing provider ACER. The building is a large multifamily house finished in 1985 and has two staircases and four floors. It is a concrete structure, with brick cavity walls envelope, and hollow block floors and roof. The windows are single glass and wood frame. The building is equipped with centralized gas boilers which provide energy for heating and domestic hot water (DHW). Air-Conditioning units provide cooling to some of the apartments.

The other demo is located near Lyon (France) and managed by the social housing provider Est Métropole Habitat. Both demonstration sites involve deep energy renovations that use and test the integrated HEART toolkit and cloud solutions.


As Europe struggles with the changing climate boosting electricity consumption peaks during both summer and winter, building renovation technologies are becoming essential. However, renovation technologies are often expensive, disintegrated, and their installation time is inefficient. The time for us to act smart so we can live smart is now. The HEART innovation will help lead us towards the future of sustainable building renovation and drive the transition towards smart cities.

The HEART toolkit incorporates different components and technologies, which cooperate to transform an existing building into a smart building. In developing this toolkit, the project advances and improves energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies in buildings across Europe. Particularly in Central and Southern Europe where climate change is leading to increased electricity consumption both during summer and winter seasons.

Issues tackled

  • Improving European building renovation process by simplifying it
  • Introduce fine-tuned integrated renovations toolkits
  • Using smart homes technologies
  • Reducing total energy consumption
  • Integrating renewable energy
  • Rationalising energy flow between buildings and smart grids
  • Broadly: reducing energy poverty and improving energy efficiency

Actors involved

  • Politecnico di Milano
  • Azienda Casa Emilia-Romagna Reggio Emilia (social housing company)
  • EURAC Research
  • École Nationale des Travaux Publics de l'État, National School of Public Works of the State
  • University of Ljubljana
  • VyzVoice
  • Stille
  • Revolve Water
  • Quantis
  • García Rama
  • Housing Europe
  • EMH Est Métropole Habitat (social housing company)
  • CTIC - Technological Information and Communication Technology Foundation
  • Turbo Power Systems
  • ZH

Actions carried out

  • Existing fuel-powered generators will be replaced with the high efficiency heat pumps.
  • Each apartment will be equipped with three Smart fan-coils, connected to the heat pumps (DC-HP), in order to provide both heating and cooling.
  • The electricity generated by Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) is approximately 10 kWp and will be mainly used to power the heat pump directly, using one multi-input multi-output unit (MIMO).
  • In order to allow the storage of excess energy, thermal storage of about 4000 liters and a battery pack of 3 kWh, will be connected to the DC-HP.
  • Windows refurbishment and opaque envelope insulation on the rest of the façades and roof will contribute to reducing the energy demand.
  • The HEART cloud platform allows the decision maker (designer, building owner, investor) to find the optimal configuration under the technical-economic point of view
  • The HEART cloud platform acts as an adaptive-predictive energy management tool.


The project is still underway. The following results are expected:

  • Reduction of at least 60% in energy consumption in order to reach the target of near zero energy compared to the values before renovation, while enhancing indoor environmental quality.
  • Decrease of installation time by at least 30% compared to typical renovation process for the building type.
  • Demonstration of a high replicability potential and of large market uptake capacity.
  • Affordability considering all costs involved, with a payback period below 15 years.
  • New generation of skilled workers and SME contractors in the construction sector capable of applying a systemic approach to renovation.
  • Bringing coherence and strategy in utilisation of renewable energy sources.
  • Improving the capacity of the European energy retrofit sector, mainly SMEs, to exploit advanced retrofit solutions.

Why it works

Although the project is still being developed at this stage (June 2019) and the ideas are being tested out on the pilot sites, the innovations might show that comprehensive retrofit toolkits in combination with cloud-based decision-support systems and automated building systems with predictive algorithms can have important benefits (see: “Results”).



More information

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No 768921


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