Research database

URBEM - Urban Reference Buildings for Energy Modelling

36 months (2022 - 2025)
Principal investigator(s):
Project type:
Nationally funded research - PRIN
Funding body:
MINISTERO (Ministero dell'Università e della Ricerca)
Project identification number:
PoliTo role:


With global emissions reaching record levels and showing no sign of peaking, the EU pledged to decarbonise its economy. EU aims to reduce GHG emissions compared to 1990 levels of 40% by 2030 and of 80-95% by 2050, whereas Italy targets to reduce by 35% emissions in the tertiary, transport and civil sectors by 2030 (PNIEC). Buildings represent 36% of CO2 emissions and account for 40% of final energy use in the EU. Any roadmap to decarbonisation should therefore include sound solutions for the building stock management and renovation, based on a coordinated framework, energy policies, incentives, and tools for implementation, especially at urban level, where the majority of the building stock lies. In the last 10 years, new tools able to assess energy conservation measures for large building stocks via dynamic simulations of ten to thousand buildings together, have been developed. These tools, called Urban Building Energy Models (UBEMs), require, nonetheless, reference buildings to provide reliable results, and current databases for this purpose are missing or are not adequate (e.g. no operation schedules, data bound to a specific geometry or geographic area only, data limited to residential buildings). A reference building (sometimes called archetype or prototype building) is a virtual building representing a significant cluster in the building stock (e.g. the reference building for detached houses built between 1950 and 1960 in a specific climate zone); in UBEMs, reference buildings are associated to a geometry (usually obtained from GIS), and final results reliability is bound to the significance and accuracy of the reference buildings adopted. The project URBEM will bridge the current knowledge gap, by providing a national database for reference buildings to be used by UBEM tools. To do so the team will establish a sound methodology based on the use of data analytics (e.g. machine learning), to make the process replicable and scalable to EU level. All available databases at national, regional and local level, concerning building fabric (e.g. SIAPE), building systems (e.g. CURIT) and energy use (e.g. DSO’s database, ISTAT survey) will be investigated, to gather information, complementing existing archetype databases (e.g. TABULA project) and adapting them to the specific needs of UBEM tools. Data availability will be broadened recurring to alternative data sources, including open data, and the use of any data related to buildings and users collected for any purpose, also with incomplete observations or accompanying data, that may, nonetheless, constitute a research prospect. By applying data cleaning, reduction and transformation as part of the developed methodology, alternative data sources will be integrated in structured databases, complementing them and broadening research results. The project will provide a tool to simulate scenarios of intervention at urban scale, to be used by public authorities to inform energy policies and incentives.

People involved





ERC sectors

PE8_6 - Energy processes engineering
PE8_3 - Civil engineering, architecture, maritime/hydraulic engineering, geotechnics, waste treatment

Sustainable Development Goals

Obiettivo 11. Rendere le città e gli insediamenti umani inclusivi, sicuri, duraturi e sostenibili|Obiettivo 13. Promuovere azioni, a tutti i livelli, per combattere il cambiamento climatico*


Total cost: € 1,199,840.00
Total contribution: € 945,276.00
PoliTo total cost: € 184,186.00
PoliTo contribution: € 143,732.00