Annex 74 Subtasks

The Annex will comprise three subtasks to operate in parallel and overlapping each other in topics and personal resources:

  • Subtask A: Science & Technology
  • Subtask B: Competitions & Living Labs
  • Subtask C: Communication

All three subtasks will be assisted by the knowledge platform as main source of information. The work on the knowledge platform will be coordinated by the operating agent of the Annex.


Subtask A: Science & Technology

Leader: Nathan Van Den Bossche, Belgium

The Solar Decathlon competitions have spread over the different continents, and is now entering into a new stage. New competition formats are under discussion as well. To acquire a more solid connection with research, the IEA EBC Annex 74 aims to develop a framework to collaborate with existing and future annex programs and integrate these research endeavors into a future competition concepts. Given that there is a trend towards monitoring the houses for a more extended period of time (adopted in e.g. the Dubai 2018, China 2018, Morocco 2019, Szentendre 2019 competitions), there is a variety of test, monitoring protocols and sequences that may be implemented. Next to that, the living lab approach allows to adopt a range of different tests in different research fields, e.g.:

  • Thermal comfort
  • Lighting comfort
  • User behavior
  • Energy balance
  • Indoor air quality
  • Acoustic performance
  • Domestic hot water systems
  • Ventilation systems
  • Life cycle analysis
  • Electrical grid interaction
  • PV systems
  • Thermal and electric storage
  • Demand control systems
  • Electric mobility interaction
  • Building operation
  • ....

Competitions will also allow an assessment of the interaction of the different performance requirements at the same time.


  • Development of a framework that allows to implement a scientific track in the context of building energy competitions such as the Solar Decathlon
  • To establish an overview of building physics research fields that would benefit from a collaboration with competitions for on-site full-scale living lab experiments
  • To coordinate a joint initiative across IEA Annex programs to compile subsets of test protocols, monitoring protocols, and documentation templates for different research fields, test sequences, and measurement periods.
  • Integration of subsets into a comprehensive multifaceted overview that provides a framework of research opportunities and boundary conditions to consider in future solar decathlon or related competitions.
  • To develop a network of excellence based on past, ongoing and future IEA Annex projects and to implement a continuous liaison between the Solar Decathlon competitions and scientific research questions for which the concept of a competition can provide a relevant full-scale test environment.

The subtask will be divided in the following activities:

Activity A.1. Analysis of Experiences

Lessons learned will be deduced by a cross analysis of the methods applied and results achieved within former competitions using the knowledge platform. This applies to the use of different technologies used individually or in combination, of the individual team strategies and of the competition strategies through the use of the rules and other factors to guide the competitions. The monitoring data from selected competitions will be analysed on the level of single buildings as well the competition villages (e.g. building grid interaction). The output is a report in connection with the work of PhD students at universities participating in the Annex.

Activity A.2. Mapping of research fields and establishing a network of excellence: The existing IEA Annex/Task programs and international research platforms will be mapped to determine collaboration opportunities in respect to on site full-scale living lab experiments. Operating agents and subtask leaders will be contacted to discuss the potential of such a collaboration. As competitions such as the Solar Decathlon render a unique testing environment in an international context, for varying climates, with parallel well-documented and operated buildings with monitoring equipment; the potential to generate relevant datasets for applied research and common exercises can hardly be underestimated. Limited adaptations in the existing competitions may render an exponential output for the scientific community. Next to that, the multi-faceted and multi-objective approach entails the necessity for cross-field collaboration. Implementation of new technologies requires a wide-scope approach: beyond a proof of concept, the full-scale test may require to consider e.g. electricity use, emission of VOC’s, acoustical performance, demand life cycle assessment, etc. By consequence, future building competitions might aim to act as a catalyst for multi-objective optimisation and collaboration.

Within the IEA EBC several networks have been established (e.g. PASLINK, DYNASTEE, AIVC) that showed to be very effective for knowledge exchange. Within Annex 74 it is the ambition to develop a framework for collaboration with existing networks. A close collaboration with these networks allows to quickly detect opportunities, discuss boundary conditions, and disseminate results. Competition offers a unique framework for testing and dissemination, whereas the other platforms offer their networks and communication channels.

Activity A.3. Documenting research questions and test protocols: After establishing the network of excellence, specific research questions will be collected from the different IEA EBC Annex projects and networks. This will comprise the different fields, ranging from the building envelope to individual and collective building services, from thermal performance over life cycle assessment, acoustics, VOC emissions up to electricity use, considering static and dynamic conditions, user-interaction and system-interaction, and ranging from simulation models up to measurement equipment and data analysis. Within the existing fields and networks, opportunities will be collected and implications discussed. The selection of the ongoing annexes below might benefit from an interaction with a competition format, as full-scale testing is an essential part of the research questions. Typically, these projects do not comprise funding to build 20 full-scale test houses, which are operated and monitored simultaneously.

  • Annex 75 Cost-Effective Building Renovation at District Level Combining Energy Efficiency and Renewables
  • Annex 72 Assessing Life Cycle Related Environmental Impacts Caused by Buildings
  • Annex 71 Building Energy Performance Assessment Based on In-situ Measurements
  • Annex 69 Strategy and Practice of Adaptive Thermal Comfort in Low Energy Buildings
  • Annex 68 Design and Operational Strategies for High IAQ in Low Energy Buildings
  • Annex 67 Energy Flexible Buildings
  • Annex 66 Definition and Simulation of Occupant Behavior in Buildings (and planned follow up Annex)
  • Annex 64 LowEx Communities - Optimized Performance of Energy Supply Systems with Exergy Principles
  • Annex 62 Ventilative Cooling
  • Annex 60 New Generation Computational Tools for Building & Community Energy Systems
  • Annex 56 Cost-Effective Energy & CO2 Emissions Optimization in Building Renovation

Next to that, finished annexes such as 58 (Reliable Building Energy Performance Characterization Based on Full Scale Dynamic Measurements), 53 (Total Energy Use in Buildings: Analysis & Evaluation Methods) and 52 (Towards Net Zero Energy Solar Buildings) provide valuable information and networks for exchange of information. The decision tree that was developed within Annex 58 for optimizing full scale dynamic testing might serve as example. For different types of performance characterization it provides an overview of the existing assessment methods and test standards. However, for competition formats this type of tool would benefit from a complementary schedule which indicates the required timing, equipment and compatibility matrix.

Each research question will entail a specific context for testing with requirements in timing (tests ranging from minutes to months) and scale (distribution and grid interaction). E.g. assessing the thermal performance may require flux-measurements, a co-heating test, monitoring free-floating temperatures, etc. The different tests will be documented to acquire a clear overview of required input data, test protocols, timing, monitoring requirements and other boundary conditions that need to be considered. Note that these questions are well understood in the respective fields of research, and do not require significant research activities. The goal is to document existing needs and requirements in a uniform way across different research fields. E.g. for annex 70 (full-scale dynamic measurements) a white paper will be drafted; “an authorative report and clear guide to educate readers and to help people make decisions”. Similarly, for other research fields it is the ambition to clearly define the research goals, the specific measurement protocols, monitoring protocols, required documentation of the buildings, and documentation of interaction with grids, people or other aspects.

Furthermore, for computer simulations specific guidelines and protocols may be issued. Based on the experiences in the DYNASTEE network, it is the ambition to develop a standardized simulation protocol for the energy simulations of the test houses. Only when different teams adopt an identical simulation methodology, results can be exchanged and compared. Furthermore, key performance indicators for the energy simulations will be defined with guidelines for validation criteria. For the competition, a quantitative performance evaluation is required on the deviation between simulations and measurements. Finally, by systematically simulating and measuring the performance of the buildings, a simulation benchmark database will be built up over time.

Activity A.4. Aggregation of testing protocols into living lab guidelines: The different test protocols provided through the network of excellence will be combined into comprehensible guidelines for practical implementation. Based on the time required to execute the tests, these tests will be combined into compiled test programs. Based on the analysis of the monitoring protocols, practical combinations will be evaluated. These guidelines must allow organisers of solar decathlon and related competitions to assess to what extent certain test programs are compatible with the specific goals of that competition, in respect to timing, climate, goals and practical restraints.


  • Technology & innovation report, outline of test protocols, monitoring protocols and documentation templates, provided for different research questions and for different test periods.

Subtask B: Competitions & Living Labs

Leader: Sergio Vega, Spain

This subtask will act as the “think tank” for the creation of innovative and useful competitions and living lab experiences. This will mean stewarding the evolution of existing competition formats such as the Solar Decathlon and the creation, development and incorporation of new competitions. The goal of subtask B is to learn from previous SD Competitions and existing living labs in order to take advantage from this know, and learn how to improve and influence the direction and content of next editions as well as new competition formats and living labs initiatives around the world, but not to administrate/organize future competition. The subtask will be divided into the following activities:

Activity B.1. Competition & living labs Evolution and New Developments: This Activity should gather existing experiences about competitions and living labs around the world in order to analyse its evolution and learn for future new developments. Existing living labs comes from very different initiatives, objectives, and ways of performance assessment. This activity will allow a critical analysis of successful case studies, and not so successful. On other hand, although the Solar Decathlon is a well-established competition, the format will profit from an evolution with respect to honing the contests to ensure they have regional relevance, especially in the European context. The activity aims to keep the competition concept relevant, attractive and stimulate dialogue through innovation without losing the general framework, structure and intensity.

Based on experiences and lessons learned from the Solar Decathlon and other formats, new competition concepts will be developed to particularly address issues other than housing. Specific competitions will encompass the challenges in chosen regions combining building renovation, building operation and facility management, dense urban living and urban district infrastructure. Further competitions will address a combination of current issues in responsible living. These may include transportation & mobility, energy & resource management, industry & production as well as smart cities. The location will determine to some degree the makeup and constellation of the competitions in any single event.

Activity B.2. Event Organization: The activity aims to identify and analyse all the key drivers to assure an event that wrap up a successful competition. Based on experiences and lessons learned from the Solar Decathlon experience, there will be a technical requirement description of all the aspects related to event organization including, among others, aspects as call for cities bidding process and selection criteria, competition logistics, infrastructure for competition, infrastructure for users and visitors, for organizers, for sponsors, for media,… Activities that could be developed for children, teenagers, university students, professionals, general public,… and its associated requirements.

Activity B.3. Competition Rules & Regulations: All forms of competitions need rules to ensure fairness. The activity will engage experts to be involved and work on the rules and regulations of the individual competitions within the Energy Endeavour. This includes selection criteria, contests definition, evaluation formats (juries, monitoring,…), jury guidelines and results reporting. The contests, rules, regulations, results and reports will all be made widely available in order to ensure transparency, equality and trust. Rules and evaluation procedures should consider latest knowledge from research work, namely within the IEA. Linking e.g. the next "Solar Village" as demonstration case within the ongoing Annex 6724 may serve as an example, 24 Energy Flexible Buildings, refer to page three of this document. This includes application of the flexibility indicators developed within Annex 67 in the deliverables of the teams during the planning phase.

Activity B.4. After Competition and Living Lab Scenarios: One of the most significant challenges is how to improve the performance of these important investments with new possible scenarios. Every university has tried to use their houses and living labs for researching purposes, for selling, for living labs experiences, … but what if from the analysis of successful case studies new coordinated initiatives arises: New coordinated living labs, with homogenised monitoring systems; visitors park open to scientific community, professionals, university students, general public,…; Coordinated demonstrators both at building and district levels, Coordinated Research Centres. This activity aims to define new scenario developments that enrich existing competitions and living labs and that will address easier funding possibilities.


  • Competition & Living Labs evolution report and lessons learned; Event Organization Guide, Rules and Criteria guide; After Competition & Living Lab Scenarios Report


Subtask C: Communication

Leader: Louise Holloway, The Netherlands

Communication and dissemination are of major importance for the success of the competitions. Experience underlines that it is not sufficient to simply act during the event period, but to continuously and consistently be linked to the public, energy policy as well as the scientific community.

Subtask C will be a collective effort of all Annex partners. The individual activities will be carried out in the local communities of all Annex partners. Thus, dissemination in Spain, for example, will be handled by the Spanish partner. The graphic chart and guidelines for language and message will be based on the competition regional identity guidelines, but the implementation will be local. This means that in the following activities, the Subtask leader will have a coordinating role, but that each partner will devote a certain amount of effort to implementing them locally.

The subtask will be divided into the following activities:

Activity C.1. Web Portal: An IEA web portal will be developed and continuously managed to link all competitions addressed within the Annex. It will also serve as a hub to link other competitions that address similar issues and goals, (i.e. Solar Car Challenge in Australia). The website will also serve as the hub for all information about the activities within the Annex. Social media accounts will be integrated into the web portal to facilitate ‘push’ streams of information and communications actions. As the sources of up-to-date information change in the coming years, the importance of social media as a source (or feed) for current information has become essential to any dissemination strategy. Given that students are the main actors within the competitions, their youth entails that social media is the best channel to stay up-to-date with Annex activities. The annex will regularly use these platforms to communicate to the participants & partners as well as the public. This task will be carried out organically, by local partners who will feed intermittent information (in English) to the portal manager.

Activity C.2. Expert Network & Worldwide Community: The competitions typically engage over 1000 students per event and involve almost double that number of professionals, researchers and educators. Already over 20 000 people have been directly involved with a Solar Decathlon event. As such, the potential to create a strong network of expertise based on a shared experience is immensely powerful. The aim of this activity will be to use social media and other platforms to link former participants as a community to support and champion the goals of the Annex. This task will be carried out by the local partners in English and in their own languages. Additionally, the Solar Decathlon Europe Council of Experts, an ad-hoc volunteer body of professionals in the fields of sustainability, is a thriving new addition to this worldwide community. The Energy Endeavour Foundation stewards the SDE Council of Experts, recommending these experts to provide voluntary initial counsel to organisers of upcoming competition editions. Local partners will contribute to this activity in an organic manner with shared contacts, social media actions and distribution lists. All parallel links will be communicated to the web portal manager.

Based on the experiences from past competitions, the inclusion of previous organisers in the management of future events helps increase efficiency and improve the quality of the events. This enables a network of former organisers, participants and independent expert professionals to offer and provide know-how, at their discretion, in planning, budgeting, quality assurance, risk management,… gathering shared experiences for hosting cities and institutions in their successful management of future events.

Activity C.3. Education: A student competition is an educational event. The impact on education is to be extended from the participating teams to interdisciplinary academic education in the field of architecture and building science in general. Material for education will be developed, including lecture materials (e.g. building integrated solar systems, smart controls ...). These will take the form of lecture notes, syllabus materials and study guides. In collaboration with other IEA EBC Annexes the organisation of specific summer schools for master students and/or PhD-student in the context of future competitions might be considered. Work with individual lecturers can result in video tutorials, online calculation and simulations exercises, as well as MOOCs etc. Single buildings and systems may serve as well-documented examples for simulation cases as high level monitoring data are available for comparison. The experience of architecture and engineering education in competition related design studios and seminars of different universities will be shared among the academic community. All partners will contribute their individual curriculum materials to the portal as shared educational resources.


  • Annex Web portal, network report, consistent and shared communication and education material.

Annex Info & Contact

Status: Ongoing (2018 - 2020)

Operating Agent

Prof. Karsten Voss
Faculty of Architecture & Civil Engineering
University Wuppertal
Building Physics & Technical Services
Pauluskirchstr. 7
42285 Wuppertal