Energy-smart high-tech living: sustainability, cost-effectiveness and comfort are combined at Brobyholm smart community

Energy-smart high-tech living: sustainability, cost-effectiveness and comfort are combined at Brobyholm smart community

A home, as the saying goes, is more than just a house. It’s a place steeped in personal emotional connection and a space to be moulded and shaped to its owners’ tastes, reflecting who they are and how they want to live.

This is the sentiment of a property development in Brobyholm, near Stockholm in Sweden. The real estate developers there decided to not just offer residents a home to make their own, but a lifestyle in which they can directly manage their carbon footprint – and thus their impact on the world – using advances in energy management, smart-living and people-focused technology.

To deliver this vision, developer S. Property Group turned to a host of technology partners, including ABB Electrification’s Smart Buildings Division and Samsung Electronics, OBOS, Three Sweden and CleanWatts to provide the tools for residents to manage their energy use easily and smartly. All while maintaining their daily routines in comfort and convenience. But the vision didn’t stop there. Brobyholm will eventually become carbon and cost neutral, providing a true glimpse of what future communities will look like.

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Decarbonizing high impact infrastructure

Brobyholm will create a new exurb a mere 35-minutes train journey from Stockholm. It will initially feature 500 predominantly single-family homes (with some available to rent). This is expected to eventually rise to 2,000.

Future-proofing the homes for sustainability is no simple task, however. Housing stock has one of the highest carbon footprints of any sector. Buildings, with their high power demand, account for around 40 percent of all energy consumption globally. Rising at home energy costs are also emerging as a primary concern for residents in many parts of the world, along with the climate emergency.

It was therefore clear that energy efficiency and optimization, along with renewables, needed to be incorporated from the design stage of the community. But the development partners were also cognizant that greater sustainability must be achieved without compromising on style or comfort, an important factor given people typically spend 90 percent of their time inside.

Partnering to provide sustainable living solutions

Identifying the challenges and opportunities, all technology partners worked together to create a single sustainable holistic solution for Brobyholm – one that would create fossil fuel-free living within a generation.

The homes at Brobyholm are the first buildings in the world to access and showcase one holistic smart home solution through a joint ABB-free@home® and Samsung SmartThings system to ensure they can manage their households smoothly. In this project, all smart home products and devices will be connected seamlessly and securely via the Samsung SmartThings app or device. They will also include ABB-free@home® room control and ABB SmartTouch® 10’’ touch panel central smart home control hub technology.

It was decided that all assets should be managed with hassle-free Internet of Things (IoT) installation, right down to appliances and energy generation. And ABB-free@home® and Samsung SmartThings should combine forces to provide a world first integrated The apps are seamlessly integrated into Brobyholm’s own property management platform, where they can talk holistically to each other. Based on the matter industry standard, Eve Energy, Eve Motion and Eve Door & Window devices are controlled via the Samsung SmartThings app.

Easy asset management through integrated systems

The first-of-a-kind integrated system covers residents every need; security, media, lighting, blinds, door entry, electricity outlets, energy, appliances, heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), sensors, cameras, TV, and energy management. Using insights derived from the various connected devices on their phone, residents can manage their total energy usage, such as turning off lights remotely and their electric vehicle charging.

Through a separate dashboard, the property operator can run appliance diagnostics and efficiency maintenance by monitoring and controlling existing appliances in an emergency and informing about new devices installed in the unit for maintenance and operation efficiency.  

Homeowners and property managers can now connect and control an extensive range of domestic devices and appliances for fully individualized property management and far-reaching energy consumption control.

“Buildings and construction consume more than 30 percent of the world’s energy and generate nearly 40 percent of global CO2 emissions,” says Mark Zwerner, Vice President Global Strategic Partnerships, at ABB Electrification’s Smart Buildings Division.

“By far the biggest impact we can have is through the development and deployment of innovative technologies for energy management, energy consumption and carbon emissions reduction while at the same time increasing the comfort and ease of use through a holistic smart home system. This applies not only to a single flat, or single house level, but needs to work holistically for the whole property or community.”

Maximizing the use of self-generated energy

Net-zero communities rely on renewable energy such as SMA’s photovoltaic (PV) systems that will be spread across the development and incorporated with storage capabilities. Together, the PV network creates a community grid system that is also equipped with Cleanwatts' state-of-the-art virtual energy sharing capabilities supporting energy self-sufficiency and lower energy bills.

To maximize potential, ABB's InSite energy management system monitors and controls the main electrical assets, including PV generation and EV charging, as well as gas and water, to optimize home-energy flows. In addition to the data collected from each household, forecast PV production, grid tariffs and consumption patterns are taken into account to balance the grid across the entire community through virtual energy sharing. This will significantly reduce costs for the families living there.

Based on energy data the InSite energy management system can manage loads in a way that maximizes the use of self-generated energy. For example, residents’ water tanks can be heated up when there is surplus energy generated by solar panels. And when solar power is low, devices will run in energy saving mode to help conserve energy. Furthermore, electric vehicles located in designated mobility zones and equipped with ABB Terra AC charger technology can also be used for energy optimization and flexibility via emerging vehicle-to-everything technology.

Additionally, as all consumers and producers are connected under one easy to use platform, excess power can be sold on the flexibility market, generating income for all inhabitants.

It is a system that’s safe, convenient, and sustainable.

The combined solutions will enable residents to save energy and money, whilst also reducing their carbon footprint, through a single easy to use platform. Property operators and home dwellers will also be able to measure energy consumption in detail and set interior lighting and heating to automatically adjust depending on the current environmental conditions.

Safety and security are also integral to the system with the ability to set alerts for presence simulation, open window and doors, as well as notification for water leaks that can be shut off remotely to prevent water damage, and the possibility of remote locking.

But at the heart of every home should be comfort and convenience and this was no less a priority at Brobyholm. Everyday convenience is at the heart of the integrated system, for example, turning on pre-settings, such as “wake-up mode”, will automatically open curtains and turns on lights in the morning.

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Leading more meaningful lives with smart home technology

Brobyholm is a glimpse into the future of housing and it’s only possible thanks to open technology, the adoption of industry standards, and vendors working together to innovate.

Through partnership and collaboration, it’s possible to leverage cutting-edge technology and innovations that enhance people’s lives and reduce their reliance on precious planetary resources. It represents the wider shift away from top-down organization of resources normally associated with smart cities, to bottom-up action from energy-smart communities. As the world’s demand for electricity grows, it’s a good example of future proofing and new thinking, an exciting step forward in ABB’s ambition to create flexible, future-forward complete solutions like energy management and EV charging.

But Brobyholm isn’t just about tech or building a futuristic society. It’s about the life that tech makes possible. Making more time for family, friends, and meaningful pursuits, while limiting your carbon footprint on the world.  The Brobyholm site is an important milestone because it demonstrates this user-friendly approach in action, and provides a replicable blueprint for future developments.

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