Combining diverse data for building refurbishment projects in a District Data Model – an important step towards finding optimal solutions

09.03.2017 – The OptEEmAL partners, under the lead of FUNITEC-ARC Engineering and Architecture La Salle, are creating an integrated ontology-based District Data Model (DDM). This model will contain key information in the fields of energy, comfort, environment, economic and social wellbeing and urban morphology. The research group ARC explains how this complex approach works and why the District Data Model is so important for finding the best solution for refurbishment projects.

Why is a District Data Model necessary?

When carrying out building refurbishment projects it is necessary to have access to data from multiple sources, such as urban and building models, planning regulations, building materials and components, climate and costs. Typically, these data are generated by a diversity of experts working in different domains, using various software tools. The accessibility to this multiscale, disperse and very heterogeneous data represents an obstacle for the technical teams in charge of developing a refurbishment project. This problem is even more accentuated when an optimal solution needs to be found by simulating a large number of design alternatives, not only of one building but of many buildings within an urban area. Therefore, it is necessary to create processes to gather and model these various types of data and to facilitate them to simulation tools in an automatised way – this is what we call the District Data Model.

How is the District Data Model used in OptEEmAL?

In OptEEmAL we are creating a District Data Model with the purpose of integrating various data necessary to carry out an optimal refurbishment project at district level. The DDM contains data models created from diverse data sources (building models in Industry Foundation Classes format, city models in CityGML format), tools to generate the models and processes to provide the data to the simulation tools in the format those tools need. This data integration and interoperability is achieved through the application of Semantic Web technologies.

What is currently happening in the project? What are the next steps?

We have now accomplished the integration of building model data in Industry Foundation Classes format and of climate data in the DDM. The next steps will be to integrate data from urban models and energy conservation measure catalogues in the DDM. After this will be accomplished, the complete integrated data model will be sent to energy simulation tools, such as Energy+, to automatically assess the performance of the design alternatives.

What role does the DDM play in the OptEEmAL platform?

The District Data Model is a central component of the OptEEmAL platform. Around the DDM, the optimising processes are performed, first to generate different design alternatives for a refurbishment project and then to select the best performing solution. This optimisation is possible after the data from various sources and domains has been previously integrated by the DDM.

What is the overall impact of your work within OptEEmAL?

The technology we are developing is generic enough to be applied to other contexts and research projects. Therefore, the DDM models, tools and the process can also be used to carry out simulations outside the OptEEmAL platform.

What is the role of FUNITEC within OptEEmAL?

FUNITEC’s research group ARC Engineering and Architecture La Salle is dedicated to the design, development and application of information and communication technologies to the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) sector. We have developed an expertise in designing energy information systems using Semantic Web technologies. In the SEMANCO research project we created a platform to support planning of energy efficient cities (, Our involvement in the OptEEmAL project is an opportunity for us to continue developing our expertise on semantic data integration and modeling in the AEC sector.

What are your reasons for taking part in the project? What can your organisation bring into the project – and get out of its involvement in OptEEmAL?

Our main reason for taking part in OptEEmAL was to consolidate and expand the line of research about semantic technologies in the area of building energy efficiency, in particular concerning the integration of Building Information Modeling and CityGML technologies.

We contribute to this project with our know-how about data integration and operability between semantic data and energy simulation tools.

The main benefit for us is the interaction with other research groups, in particular those working with advanced energy simulation and city modeling.

Thank you very much for your answers!


Fundació Privada Universitat i Tecnologia (FUNITEC) is represented in OptEEmAL by the research group ARC Engineering and Architecture La Salle. The group was founded in 1999 and since then it has carried out numerous pedagogical and research projects whose results have been widely published. Currently, the research lines in which the group is working are three: 1. Smart cities (Energy information systems, decision-making systems and planning tools to optimize energy performance in buildings and cities); 2. ICT for Architecture, Engineering and Construction (integration of BIM technologies in the building lifecycle; and 3. BIM-based building component catalogues; modular housing systems) and Technology Enhanced Learning (web-based collaborative learning environments; repositories of learning resources; digital libraries).

Contact details:

Fundació Privada Universitat i Tecnologia
ARC Enginyeria i Arquitectura La Salle
Universitat Ramon Llull
Quatre Camins, 2
08022 Barcelona

Leandro Madrazo | +34 932902449

Álvaro Sicilia | +34 932902449

Gonçal Costa | +34 932902449