Digital Twin technology revolutionising non-domestic building upgrades unveiled at Futurebuild

An initiative aimed at revolutionising the approach to retrofit and building upgrades for the UK’s non-domestic buildings was launched today at the Futurebuild conference in London.

There are currently two million non-domestic buildings in the UK. These are responsible for 9% of carbon emissions according to government figures. It is estimated that 80% of the buildings we have now will still exist in 2050. This paints a clear picture that there is a need for retrofit interventions to improve the energy efficiency and integrity of non-domestic buildings. 


Alongside two other projects funded by Innovate UK’s Net Zero Heat Programme, ALCHEMAI (Advanced Low Carbon Heat and Energy Modelling Accelerating Investment) leverages immersive Digital Twin technology to seamlessly connect sensors, Passivhaus retrofit, electricity trading, and grid flexibility to deliver accessible and affordable clean heating solutions for the diverse needs of a range of non-domestic buildings and occupants including leisure centres, local museums, offices, and schools. 


Digital Twins, in the context of the built environment, are digital replicas of buildings created by amalgamating data from diverse sources such as sensors, 3D models, and analytics tools. 


The consortia of seven partners behind ALCHEMAI will deliver the project across 12 demonstrator sites to determine what are the best scalable and accessible building upgrades that minimise CO2 emissions and improve the comfort level and integrity of the buildings.  


By showcasing the benefits and potential of Digital Twins, ALCHEMAI aims to generate demand and support the low carbon economy in alignment with the UK Government’s broader net-zero strategy. It will also enable local authorities and occupants of non-domestic buildings to make informed decisions on investments in building improvements that maximise impact, save money and reduce carbon. 


In addition to reducing economic uncertainty around retrofits, ALCHEMAI has the potential to create low carbon jobs and to safeguard vital community assets by reducing running costs and improving building integrity.  


Matthew Paton, Impact Manager at BE-ST and ALCHEMAI project manager, says: 


“This is an exciting project that for the first time creates a coordinated study across a diverse range of building typologies. We have significant interest from both the private and public sector who are looking to implement new and more efficient approaches to decarbonise their building assets, which at the moment is done through costly, one-off energy assessments.  


“The smart technology, analysis and tools created during the ALCHEMAI project will provide reliable and accurate data to enable retrofit at scale across the country and help those most in need of quality, sustainable improvements. 


Mike Pitts, Deputy Challenge Director, Innovate UK says: 


“Innovate UK’s Net Zero Heat programme seeks to overcome barriers to innovation to enable the UK to prosper from moving quickly away from gas for heat in buildings. 


“The three projects announced today are the biggest investment to date from the programme. We’re really pleased that such promising ideas were developed through an intensive five-day workshop specifically designed to generate these kinds of high-potential projects. The participants are involved from all stages across the process of Net Zero Heat renovations of buildings, and they all seek to improve the process for different types of building with the aim of bringing down cost and speeding up retrofit work.” 

ALCHEMAI Futurebuild Announcement