The importance of flexibility optimization in buildings

Buildings flexibility: What can residents gain?

As buildings account for approximately 40% of the annual energy use worldwide, there is a need for residents to become active consumers/procumers and the buildings become energy flexible. This can be done by adjusting their energy consumption according to the actual level of energy in the energy networks – i.e. consume more during period with much RES in the networks e.g. by storing energy and opposite reduce the energy consumption during energy shortages in the networks[1].

Though, engagement of residents (end-users) can be a complex process involving several issues that are generally specific to each end-user, such as financial motivation, familiarity and trust, perceived risk and control, complexity and effort, interaction with routines and programs, and user characteristics[2].

Which are the benefits for buildings residents?

Even though the process for the residents’ involvement can be difficult sometimes, there are a lot of benefits that they can acquire from this involvement. The optimisation of flexibility delivered by building assets can lead to the creation of new revenue for end-users, through the provision of the flexibility services to other market participants.

Also, by reducing peak energy demand and flexibly consuming variable there can be a direct impact on reducing a property’s carbon footprint. Flexible buildings can enable occupants to select a preferred energy source and as such additionally support the clean energy transition[3]. At the same time, smart homes can reduce rent/mortgage costs through reduced construction costs, and provide more sustainable building facilities.

Flexibility in buildings: The BEYOND tool

In the framework of the BEYOND project, we created the Flexibility-based VPP Configurator and DR Strategy Optimisation Tool (Flexopt). The FLEXopt tool allows building managers to gain and maintain better insights into their flexibility portfolio, ensuring the utilisation of a maximum amount of flexibility that does not jeopardise the user comfort, nor does it threaten the proper functioning of the building assets. Through the tool, the flexibility properly identified and selected by building managers can be delivered by means of an aggregator to third parties – flexibility users (i.e., system operators). The flexibility service user may be either the network operator seeking to resolve and optimise the operational network conditions or a balance group operator or another market participant.

The tool can perform flexibility optimisation analytics by providing flexibility segmentation, classification, and clustering of available flexibility resources. At the same time, the tool ensures a smooth operation of building assets under evolving conditions, enabling the optimal utilisation of flexibility and creation of revenue.


[1] Knotzer, A., Pernetti, R. and Jensen, S.Ø., 2019. Characterization of Energy Flexibility in Buildings. Deliverable, International Energy Agency Energy in Buildings and Communities Annex67.

[2] Li, R., Satchwell, A.J., Finn, D., Christensen, T.H., Kummert, M., Le Dréau, J., Lopes, R.A., Madsen, H., Salom, J., Henze, G. and Wittchen, K., 2022. Ten questions concerning energy flexibility in buildings. Building and Environment, 223, p.109461.

[3] Presenting the value of flexible buildings, 2021, smartEN Q&A paper

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