An Interview with Pascale Brassier - Co-ordinator of the HIT2GAP Project

Stephen Garvin of BRE interviewed Pascale Brassier, who is the project co-ordinator for HIT2GAP to understand the role and her hopes for the development of the project.

pascale.jpgPascale, you are the coordinator of the HIT2GAP project can you first explain a little bit about your background and your role at Nobatek?

Graduated as engineer in the field of applied mathematics and mechanics in 1997, I received my PhD in Mechanics from the University of Bordeaux in 2000. I worked for eight years in the field of non-destructive testing and composite materials in the aerospace industry. I then, after a professional training on energy efficiency and techniques for building  performance assessment, joined NOBATEK in 2012 as project manager in the field of building monitoring. I am currently in charge of projects related to monitoring of buildings and energy performance assessment and I’m particularly involved in European projects. Other than HIT2GAP, I also manage PVSITES, DR-BOB and I work for some national research projects. I have also been recently CMVP certified (Certified Measurement & Verification Professional).

Can you talk about Nobatek’s business and what the organisation hopes to achieve from initiating HIT2GAP?

Nobatek is a French private non-profit technological research centre working to promote innovation in sustainable development and Energy Efficiency in building technology, architecture and urban planning. Our clients are both private and public building owners and architects, to whom we provide services in the design and assessment of sustainable buildings and neighbourhoods both through research projects and field applications. Our NEST tool has been developed under this activity and is now fully operational. We have applied it in various urban development projects and is part of several EU funded projects. We also work on environmental certification, energy efficiency and comfort simulation, design for recycling, development of new bio-sourced materials, water use optimisation, green construction process organisation, life cycle analysis, sustainable refurbishment and building performance monitoring.

I can add that since last year Nobatek is an RTO member of the Steering Committee of the European Construction Technology Platform (ECTP) and is especially active in the Energy Efficient Buildings Committee. We are now a recognised player in R&D projects both at national and European level, where we are currently involved in more than 10 Horizon 2020 projects, mainly in the field of Energy Efficient Buildings. Apart from HIT2GAP we also coordinate 4 other H2020 projects, namely Built2Spec, E2Vent, Innoqua and Nature4Cities.

About our interest in the HIT2GAP project, I should firstly say in Nobatek we have developed a twofold strategy towards the Energy Performance Gap. As you may know this gap has been characterised as coming, in different proportions, from flaws or issues present in every phase of the building life cycle, from design to operation. Therefore, we responded to a topic from the EeB 2014 call and won the project, which is BUILT2SPEC, about how to deal with quality checks and self-inspection on building sites, thus involving the first two phases of the building process: Design and Construction. Then in the EeB 2015 call, we also successfully answered to the HIT2GAP topic, which addresses the Energy Performance Gap in the Commissioning and Operation phases. We’re therefore very happy that Nobatek positions itself as a key player in reducing the Energy Performance Gap in Europe by coordinating two complementary H2020 projects, just separated in time by one year! We expect that a lot of synergies will arise between both projects once we go a step forward in their development.

On the other side, the HIT2GAP project is in line with the activities conducted in the frame of INEF4 Institute and NOBATEK aims at promoting the tool developed as part of the project towards our existing customers and partners. This tool will be a valuable means to gather all the stakeholders involved in the management of buildings along the value chain around a common idea that aims at promoting the added value associated with making the most of the data collected in buildings. 

How did you personally get involved in the HIT2GAP project?

I was involved at the very start of the discussions when the first partners were gathered around the core idea of the project which is related to the data valorisation in the process of energy management in buildings. Another important idea behind the HIT2GAP project was also related to the fact that we wanted to make this data available to the different stakeholders by promoting an open, modular and scalable solution. Therefore we met EURECAT, R2M, TEKNIKER, GIROA and University of Girona trying to define a first guideline towards this objective. The proposal preparation was an intense phase during which our former colleague Nicolas Salmon, who initiated the work and the contact with the partners, pushed very hard to build a strong and skilled consortium on the basis of an innovative idea.

The project is very ambitious in trying to reduce the energy gap between predicted and actual energy use in buildings; what do you see as key to the delivery of a useful outcome that can be widely adopted by building owners and managers?

Indeed HIT2GAP aims at reducing the gap between the predicted energy performance that is simulated during the design phase of a building and the real performance that is measured during the exploitation phase of a building. We hope to do so by providing various tools involving all the items in the value chain of energy performance, from people involved in the design and simulation of building towards the behaviour modelling of end users or the ISO50001 approach. HIT2GAP will deliver modules that will help the facility manager, the building manager or the energy manager to better understand the functioning of the building, identify the defects that may occur leading to a deterioration in performance and engage the occupants of the building in the energy management by involving them through innovative awareness interfaces. HIT2GAP will also provide useful input that can benefit to the simulation tools and thus contribute to reduce the gap by providing for instance refined and consolidated hypothesis, isolate the most influential model input parameters and suggest control changes or options for performance improvement and therefore reducing the gap.

There are 22 partners in the project, which must present challenges for project management, can you talk about how you do this successfully?

Indeed, 22 partners constitute a very large consortium and the management of such a team is not straightforward. Communication is essential between partners in order to share correctly the good data and get all at the same level of information. Fortunately, we have strong partners involved in the project who bring and share their skills and experience in EU projects. This is very useful and really saves time in the day-to-day management of such a project. We also use state-of-the art, specially designed project management software and platform, which helps and boost communication and collaborative work.

What do you think will be the main outputs (products and services for example) from the project and how will users be able to access them What do you think will be the main outputs (products and services for example) from the project and how will users be able to access them?

The HIT2GAP solution developed as part of the project will enable the development of new services attached to the added value related to the data coming from the buildings. The aim of the HIT2GAP project is to reach a high Technical Readiness Level (TRL) and demonstrate the impact of such a solution in order to be able to start a commercialization of the product and bring it to the market rapidly. The stakeholders such as facility managers, building managers and energy managers, will have the possibility to select the most useful application for their own building through a kind of apps store and apply the selected app to the data coming from their BMS (Building Management System) to enrich their own services or provide new services. External developers will be able to develop their own apps (modules) and integrate them into the platform and therefore benefit from the connectivity ability of the HIT2GAP solution. The HIT2GAP solution aims at being an open, modular, extensible, and scalable platform targeting two markets:

  • stakeholders who will buy the whole HIT2GAP solution to be used for the management of a new building for instance on a BtoC (Business to Consumer) basis; and

  • stakeholders who will use the HITGAP platform or a part of it (one or several modules selected in the apps store) as integrated in their own solution as this will be demonstrated during the project with CYLON Controls, a partner of the consortium which is a provider of BMS really interested in improving its own solution by external added value modules. This will represent a parallel BtoB (business to business) approach.

We would like to thank Pascale for her time and for sharing her thoughts on the project and the associated issues.