Small groups of diverse buildings can provide opportunities for system synergies that will reduce GHG emissions. We refer to such a group of buildings as a Synergy Zones. The system includes on-site renewable energy, energy storage, DC distribution and equipment, thermal energy, greywater and control systems. We seek to balance supply and demand with control systems and appropriate algorithms.

Larsson, iiSBE

Implemented in

  • Africa
  • Asia / Pacific
  • Europe and Central Asia
  • Latin America / Caribbean
  • Middle East
  • North America

Sectors of activity
Water, Buildings and construction, Energy

Type of initiative

Type of lead actor
Scientific and Technical

Start date

End date

Shared by

Nils Larsson

Executive Director

International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment (iiSBE)

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The concept is based on system synergies within a small group of diverse buildings. Relevant systems include the use of renewable DC power on site with no conversion losses, the distribution of thermal energy from buildings with surpluses to those with deficits, and a similarly more efficient use of surplus greywater. On-site renewable energy is limited to local use below 50V or for conversion to AC for feed-in tariff systems. When local solar energy is not available and demand is high, mid-term battery storage can partly address this problem, but depending on the time period, AC power may have to be converted back to DC again. Conversion energy losses could be reduced if more DC is used on site, which implies parallel DC/AC distribution systems in buildings. Much building equipment now operates on DC, and buildings may be provided with DC-only distribution systems in the future.
Diverse building types offer benefits from different peak demand times, varied potential for rainwater harvesting and exchange of thermal energy to meet surpluses and deficits. A Synergy Zone would offer a high level of resilience in case local public services are disrupted.

Specific anticipated outcomes include:
* use more DC on site, thereby reducing transport losses.
* reduce DC-AC conversion losses by 15% to 20%
* establish pilot buildings with parallel DC and AC distribution.
* develop a market for appliances and equipment using DC as well as AC, leading to DC-only equipment.
* create synergies of grey water and thermal storage and exchange, would be a secondary benefit.

Pilot projects could facilitate a major market for this approach.

Synergy Zones would support high-performance neighbourhood infill and renovation programs and would increase local resilience.


As collected through the One Planet Reporting

No activities have yet been reported under this initiative

Impact and Results

None so far

Next steps and how to get involved

Contact iiSBE: