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Smart Grids – Building Energy Management Systems: The Art of Optimizing Energy Supply and Demand for Comfort

(duration: 11/2012 - 11/2016 /// funding: AgentschapNL, TKI Smart Grids 2012)


The energy market is radically changing due to the advent of Smart Grids (SG) and Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS). Smart Grids help manage the supply and demand on the (renewable) energy market in a dynamic way, while BEMS optimize individual buildings for comfort and energy efficiency.

The SG-BEMS project develops an agent-based ICT framework that fosters the synergy between Smart Grids and Building Energy Management Systems, allowing user behaviour and demand to influence the energy market, and vice versa. In this respect, the project looks at both B2C (housing) and B2B (office buildings) applications.

Saving energy while improving comfort levels

In Europe, approximately 40% of energy is used in buildings, for lighting, heating, cooling, etc. Many buildings use more energy than necessary, for instance by lighting unoccupied rooms. Sometimes, unintelligent use of energy even causes discomfort, for instance by overheating rooms that will be soon be occupied by many people bringing their own heat. BEMS can contribute to improving comfort levels, while saving energy.

These systems could achieve even greater savings, if they could also interact with the larger energy grid, using energy when it is readily available from sustainable sources, and not using fossil energy sources during demand peaks.

User, environment, energy network

Project leader Kropman has plenty of practical experience with different types of BEMS. In collaboration with the research partners, the project will focus on more fundamental and applied research towards streamlining interaction between a building's users, its environment, and  energy distribution and production networks.

Actual user behaviour and demands will be a major decisive factor in energy distribution within the SG-BEMS. That is why the desired system must include sophisticated sensing and communication capabilities, to track user behaviour and to allow users to provide feedback.

The proposed solution is an agent-based platform that will provide communication and interaction between different BEMS and Smart Grids. The modular character of such a system allows for scalability.

Almende Assets and Contributions

Almende has acquired plenty of experience on the subject of smart energy grids in several closely related European FP projects, in particular Adapt4EE, SEAM4US and INERTIA.

In this project, Almende will contribute its open source Common Hybrid Agent Platform for developing agent-based SG-BEMS that are coupled to wireless sensor-actuator networks for internal building ventilation, air, heating and lighting management. Almende will further contribute to the preference modelling for the B2B and B2C applications.

Top Sector "Energy"

In 2011, the Dutch government defined 10 Top Sectors, thematically clustered sectors in which the Netherlands excel and which are expected to yield big economic and technologic advancements. One of these sectors is the Topsector "Energy".

The SG-BEMS project is funded within the Topconsortia voor Kennis en Innovatie (TKI) "Smart Grids". The project aims to contribute to goals set by the Dutch government, to reduce carbon emissions by 20% and to use 14% more renewable energy.


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Almende, over 15 years of success in R&D

We are a Rotterdam-based SME, founded in 2000, conducting research and development activities in several ICT domains, ranging from healthcare to manufacturing systems. 

Our mission is to create innovative ICT solutions to empower human beings to better organize their lives in an increasingly complex world. For this purpose, we have created numerous software tools and hardware devices, which are commercialized via our daughter companies.

Currently, we are involved in several European and Dutch funded projects together with dozens of industrial and academic partners. Read more about our research and contact us for inquiries about our activity.