Virtual Reality enabled energy services for smart energy systems

Initial situation / Motivation

Europe is now entering the fourth wave of energy efficiency as characterised by the increased digitization of society, distributed energy resource (DER) deployment, and the changing nature of the energy supply and demand mix.

Demand-side adoption of IoT technologies in homes, commercial and industrial buildings, as well as educational and community facilities offers enormous potential to increase efficiency through more comprehensive energy management systems.

Intelligent energy services such as predictive maintenance, demand-side management and model predictive control are central components for reducing the energy consumption of buildings and transforming buildings into intelligent actors in the next generation of smart energy systems.


BEYOND aims to develop the technological foundation for "Next Generation Energy Services", which is made possible by the interplay of the following technologies: Virtual Reality (VR) for visualization and real-time interaction with the real building; Machine learning and physical simulation to show the real-life effects of interventions and decisions; Internet of Things (IoT) platforms for the realisation of smart systems and bidirectional real-time communication between the building and its users. The technological developments will be tested and evaluated on the basis of two use cases “Human Aspects in Buildings” and “Predictive Maintenance and Error Diagnosis”.

Use case 1: “Human Aspects in Buildings”

The first use case “Human Aspects in Buildings” will allow the impact of user decisions on the performance of buildings. For this purpose, white box models of existing BIM models will be used in combination with black box models for predicting energy consumption in buildings and to evaluate the daylight levels. These models will be integrated with VR technologies to strengthen users' sense through visual representations (e.g. of heat loss, heat flux, daylight etc.), acoustic (e.g. acoustic warnings when temperatures or low daylight levels are exceeded etc.) and haptic (e.g. to feel temperature changes etc.) information as well as providing real-time evaluation of the users' decisions.


Use case 2: “Predictive Maintenance and Error Diagnosis”

The second use case “Predictive Maintenance and Error Diagnosis” will use enhanced analysis and monitored data on (prediction) system failure and reliability (e.g. HVAC systems) and use this extended information to accurately plan future maintenance operations.

Expected results

The development of the two use cases in the context of VR will lay the foundations for research into interactive machine learning methods and user-friendly building optimisation mechanisms and maintenance of systems. This will provide the know-how for building planning, but also for the use of existing buildings.

Developments of the BEYOND project will benefit, amongst others, innovative companies in energy and fault detection services, building management and automation, simulation software and VR technology. Policy decision-makers and end-users will also benefit from enhanced ways of interacting with these “Next Generation Energy Services” that integrates real-time interaction via VR, online simulations, and access to real-time data and historical data via the IoT platform.

Project duration

10/2021 – 09/2023

Project lead

Univ. Prof. Dr. Christina Hopfe (Head of Institute), IBPSC Institute of Building Physics, Services and Construction (IBPSC), Graz University of Technology

Project partners

Institute of Interactive Systems and Data Science (ISDS), Graz University of Technology
Institute of Software Technology (IST), Graz University of Technology
EAM Systems GmbH


The research project Beyond is supported by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency as part of the 8th FFG City of the Future call for proposals.

City of the Future is a research and technology programme of the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology. It is carried out on behalf of the BMK by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency together with the Austria Wirtschaftsservice Gesellschaft mbH and the Austrian Society for Environment and Technology ÖGUT.