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14 November 2013

Silvia Demattè: Sharing information to make better decisions in building sector

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Low energy buildings can benefit from sophisticated computer platforms capable of integrating the diversity of technical information required during the building stage and beyond

EnginSoft, is an Italian consultancy specialised in computer-aided-engineering. It has experience of contributing to the development of low energy buildings, under the EU-funded DIRECTION research project. Silvia Demattè, R&D engineer at EnginSoft, based in Trento, Italy, talks to about the importance of participating to such a European research project for a company like hers.

What attracted you to take part to the EU project?
This research project is a continuation of our past activity in the field. We had previously participated in a research project called BENIMPACT. It was aimed at developing a platform for simulation and optimisation of the energy efficiency in buildings. That was our first experience in the building sector. It took us away from our typical field of work, which focuses on mechanical, automotive and aeronautical engineering. We immediately realised the potential of working towards increased energy efficiency and sustainability in buildings.

What has this project done for your organisation?
The project is important for the development of our network. It also represents an opportunity for us to be exposed to different approaches, interests and practices related to energy efficiency in buildings.

Which concrete tools have you developed?
Our role in the project was to develop a content management system, dubbed BIXS [Building Information Exchange System]. It is a platform for managing, exchanging and sharing information relevant to the three project's show-cases. These are two privately owned buildings —one is located at the CARTIF Boecillo site  in Valladolid, Spain and the other, the Nu-Office  is in Munich, Germany —and a publicly-owned building — located in the new technology park of the Bolzano province in Italy.

The new platform consists in a tree of folders that include plans, perspective drawings, installations, monitoring data and maintenance costs, among others. This information may typically get lost without a system like this in place.

The platform should thus facilitate data and information exchange between various project partners, and improve decision making, which is one of project's goals. 

What were the challenges that you had to overcome?
The main challenge was to identify relevant partners’ needs. It was essential to facilitate the collection, management and sharing of information and to identify the technical requirements of the software to be used. From the range of open-source software available, we chose a generic content management system called OpenKM. It is used to collect in an orderly and user-friendly way all the documents produced in the different stages of a building’s design and management. It also makes them accessible at later stages.

What are your future plans?
We are now working to bring to the market a new platform for simulation and optimisation of several key aspects of buildings, including energy, environmental impact, costs and comfort. Its purpose will be to facilitate a systematic approach for, at least, the easiest decisions, such as those related to construction components. We plan to integrate the BIXS within this new platform. provides its content to all media free of charge. We would appreciate if you could acknowledge as the source of the content.