Results overview

Cultural-E strives to increase the market uptake of Plus Energy Buildings by proposing measures to overcome cultural factors and legal barriers.

Project results include:

  • design tools, to provide an interactive map of the different European geo-clusters in order to shape a common basis for the development of technology solutions-set for different climates and cultural factors
  • smart technologies such as the cloud-based House Management System, smart hybrid ventilation system, smart air movement system, and decentralized Packed Heat Pump system. Existing technologies such as photovoltaic/battery systems, thermal insulation materials, thermal mass activation and storage, shading systems will be further consolidated. Eight climate and cultural solutions sets will be developed
  • methodologies, to help designers to maximize the solutions co-benefits according to the specific context
  • policy recommendations, to accelerate the transition from nZEBs to Plus Energy Buildings by providing evidence-based recommendations that address cultural factors and legal barriers

Design tools

The first project milestone was the identification of specific climate and socio-cultural features that affect and effect buildings energy consumption, the building context. This entails an innovative approach that looks at the above-mentioned features to define appropriate solutions.

> Read more

Eight climate and cultural solution sets have been developed. The result is meant to reduce the design effort to conceive new PEBs, providing a pre-tested set of solutions that can guarantee:

  • Positivity for the yearly onsite primary energy balance;
  • Maximum CO2 emission of 2 kgCO2/m2y during building operation phase;
  • 8 years payback time compared to nZEB 2020;
  • Low actual environmental and social impacts, as evaluated with a LCA approach considering wide system boundaries;
  • 85% of acceptability rate;
  • Climate change resilience to 16 different future scenarios.

The framework for energy simulation aided design provided a library of custom and ready-made scripting for simulation input and output reports, including post-processing, leading to easy-to-understand and informative data visualization for the design of Plus Energy Buildings. The Data visualization:

  • answers targeted questions that are meaningful to designers and other stakeholders;
  • supplies clear input data-set reports and interpretation keys to support decision making that considers economical aspects as well as co-benefits;
  • is generated from basic hourly output data series of energy gains and losses and indoor environment conditions;
  • is open to crowd-source content from energy modeler communities.

> Read more


In the current discussion on High Performance Buildings, the focus is usually on the direct effects achievable by means of implemented design, technologies, and operation strategies, namely a decrease in the energy consumptions and costs, and a reduction of GHG emissions. However, with a more holistic perspective that considers all the building-related factors, it is pivotal to identify and subsequently consider also the indirect effects resulting from the implementation of solution sets, technologies and systems, besides or as a consequence of the achieved direct effects.  

At the moment, neither a clear definition is available for such co-benefits, nor a list of important effects to be considered, and thus it is nowadays impossible to include these aspects in a comprehensive and effective economical evaluation. 

In this direction, the Cultural-E project, is working towards addressing the estimation of the co-benefits of PEBs so as to be properly integrated into business models. 

The concept of co-benefits is a very embracing one, including numerous effects at different levels of economy and society. Co-benefits can be divided into:

  1. Household level, i.e. for the building owner or user like increased user comfort, fewer problems with building physics, improved maintenance, etc…
  2. Society or community level, i.e. health benefits, decreased mortality or morbidity, job creation, energy security, impact on climate change, etc… 

These two branches foresee different target groups, thus accounting for different economic perspectives. On the one side, for the building owners and promoters, the economic value of a building and the value added by energy related renovation measures are the most relevant indicators and, therefore, the indirect effects that can potentially increase the willingness to pay for the building a private perspective. On the other side, for policy makers a societal or macroeconomic perspective is required in order to show how policies that are implemented for the reduction of energy and emissions in the building sector may be used to reach other objectives such as economic and social development, sustainability and equity. 

In the state of the art on this topic, investors lack guidelines on how to monetize the positive co impacts and when an attempt exists, these aspects are evaluated merely in a qualitative way. The final goal of our project is to provide a useful tool to allow stakeholders to consider the related value/impact of indirect effects, supporting the estimation of different measures and investments and the promotion of PEBs.

Policy recommendations

A step-change is required by policy makers to promote Plus Energy Buildings into mainstream practice, going beyond nZEB. This project will provide the evidence base and the know-how for policy makers. The project will make evidenced recommendations to the European Commission on the inclusion of Plus Energy Buildings in the next EPBD revision (2026) and adjusted guidelines for the implementation to the investigated Member States.