SMARTLAB is exploring the lived reality of Irish building users and their buildings, in order to investigate the potential of enhanced smart-readiness in buildings and the market for the deployment of smart technologies and services. One of the core objectives of the project is to explore the possible application of the European Union (EU) Smart Readiness Indicator (SRI) in Ireland, exploring the opportunities that could arise from the adoption of this Framework. Measures such as the SRI are being put in place by the EU to promote smart building investment because smart buildings can enable energy efficiency and enhance comfort for occupants. As part of the preparation for implementation of the SRI, the EU Commission has implemented research projects to explore its potential, and part of that research has involved identifying common barriers associated with improving the smartness of buildings. Accordingly, the SMARTLAB project has made a similar exploration in the Limerick context, investigating three particular types of barriers, their occurrence and frequency in the project study area in Limerick city. These include:
- Technological barriers: connectivity, upgrading, obsolesce, and e-waste generation.
- Financial barriers: costs, the expense of deployment and maintenance, lack of benefits for investors, and lack of access to micro-loans.
- Social barriers: lack of awareness, absence of a sense of responsibility, privacy concerns, inability to address smart technologies, and dependency.
This is a formative piece of research, taking place early in the project implementation timeline and before our participant panel is established. The information has been gathered from diverse stakeholders in the SMARTLAB ecosystem as outlined in WP1-D1: Plan for Stakeholders Engagement and SMART Journeys Including SMARTLAB Calendar of Events, bringing together viewpoints from community, academia, government, and business. Its core finding is a list of barriers across the three pillars, including poor network coverage, lack of return on investment, and lack of awareness of the potential of smart technologies and services. These barriers are analysed in light of EU research into the topic. The Deliverable finds that there are commonalities between barriers reported and those identified by EU research, but that there are also barriers identified which seem specific to the Irish/Limerick context. This topic will be explored further with project participants and will feed directly into future Deliverables including WP5-D3: Final report on impacts to the buildings, the occupants, the smart energy system, and the future for smart building technology (M24).