BIM for renovation?

BIM for renovation?

New European directives on energy efficiency, targeting a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to be achieved by 2023, are triggering deep renovation building projects, which are largely responsible for these emissions. This high demand for the transformation of the existing building stock makes us consider the need to execute this type of renovation projects in the shortest period of time. Furthermore, it is important to offer an adequate cost/benefit balance for the proposed interventions.

And in this process of transition towards climate-neutral buildings, how can the use of new technologies and the application of methodologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) help in the implementation of deep renovation projects? The adoption of BIM models, traditionally used for new buildings, can provide important decision support when selecting solutions to be implemented in renovation projects. This was one of the main objectives of the H2020 BIM-SPEED Project, to improve deep renovation projects of residential buildings, reducing the time and costs associated with them, and promoting the use of BIM among the different stakeholders involved. To this end, standardised processes, with the creation of Use Cases, and different BIM‑based tools were developed as part of the BIM‑SPEED web platform ecosystem, as well as training materials on how to use these services1. To address interoperability issues, different ETLs (Extract, Transform and Load) and BIM connectors were implemented.

Interoperability framework between BIM tools and the BIM-SPEED web platform, showing the connection to the implemented ETLs and BIM Connectors. To ensure the reliability of the data, different Checker tools were applied

It was also possible to see how beneficial the combination of Machine Learning techniques with BIM models is for decision making in deep renovation projects, allowing the automatic selection of the most appropriate renovation option. This selection is based on national building envelope regulations, and also takes into consideration a number of user-defined input parameters on the limitations of its application2. The combination of the Scan to BIM process with the automatic creation of walls in BIM, using point clouds as input data, was also of great interest to end users3.

And now, what else?

The possibilities of using BIM models do not end with the renovation phase of the building. These models can also play a key role in the Operation and Maintenance phase. The development of Digital Building Twins based on BIM models can help in the optimisation and control of buildings to improve their energy performance. In line with this, projects such as BuildON, coordinated by CARTIF, and SMARTeeSTORY, the latter focused on monitoring and optimisation of the energy performance of non-residential historical buildings, are starting. We will keep you updated on further developments in future posts.

If you want to know more about the origin of Digital Twins, you can read our previous blog entry: “From Apollo 13 to the Digital Building Twins”


2 Mulero-Palencia, S.; Álvarez-Díaz, S.; Andrés-Chicote, M. Machine Learning for the Improvement of Deep Renovation Building Projects Using As-Built BIM Models. Sustainability 2021, 13, 6576.

3 Álvarez-Díaz, S.; Román-Cembranos, J.; Lukaszewska, A.; Dymarski, P. 3D Modelling of Existing Asset Based on Point Clouds: A Comparison of Scan2BIM Approaches. In 2022 IEEE International Workshop on Metrology for Living Environment (MetroLivEn); IEEE, 2022; pp 274–279.

Managing industrial data: prevention is better than cure

Managing industrial data: prevention is better than cure

In the field of health, it is known that is more effective prevent illnesses than treat them once they have manifested themselves. In a similar way, it can be apply in the context of industrial data, its continuous and proactive maintenance helps to avoid the need of an extensive pre-treatment before using advance data analytic techniques for decision-making and knowledge generation.

Pre-treatment data implies doing several tasks as: (1) data cleaning, (2) correction of errors, (3) elimination of atypical values and (4) the standardisation of formats, among others. These activities are necessary to assure quality and data consistency before using it in analysis, decision-making or specific applications.

Fuente: Storyset en FreePik

However, if robust data maintenance can be implemented from the outset, many of these errors and irregularities can be prevent. By establishing proper data entry processes, applying validations and quality checks, and keeping up-to-date records, it is possible to reduce the amount of pre-treatment need later, identifying and addressing potential problems before they become major obstacles. This includes early detection of errors such as inaccurate data, correction of inconsistencies and updating of outdated information. It is true that companies currently store large amounts of data but it is important to highlight that not all of this data is necessarily valid or useful, for example, for use in an artificial intelligence project. Indeed, many organisations face the challenge of mantaining and managing data that lacks relevance or quality. This management aims to ensure te integrity, quality and availability of data over time.

Efficient data maintenance is crucial to ensure that data are relaible, up-to-date and accurate, but this involves continuous monitoring and management by company staff, ensuring that they remain accurate, consistent, complete and up to date. The most common activities related to data maintenance include:

  1. Regular monitoring: Is carried out a periodic data tracking to detect possible problems, such as errors, inconsistencies, loses or atypical values. This can involves the revision of reports, tendance analysis or the implementation of authomatized alerts to detect anomalies.
  2. Updating and correction: If errors or inconsistencies in data are identified, maintenance staff will ensure that theyr are corrected and updated appropriately. This may involve reviewing records, checking external sources or communicating with those responsible for data collection.
  3. Backup and recovery: Procedures and systems are established to back up data and ensure its recovery in the event of failure or loss. This may include implementing regular backup policies and conducting periodic data recovery tests.
  4. Access management and security: Data maintenance staff ensure that data is protected and only accessible by authorised users. This may involve implementing security measures such as access control, data encryption or monitoring audit trails.
  5. Documentation and metadata update: Dara-related documentation, including field descriptions, database structure and associated metadat, is kept up to date. This facilitate the understanding and proper use of the data by users.

In summary, data maintenance involves: (1) regularly monitoring, (2) correcting errors, (3) backing up, and (4) securing the data to ensure that it is in good condition and reliable. These actions are fundamental to mantaining the quality and security of stored information.

At CARTIF, we face this type of problems in different projects related to the optimisation of manufacturing processes for different companies and industries. We are aware of the amount of time consumed in staff hours due to the problems explained, so we are working on providing certain automatic mechanisms that make life easier for those responsible for the aforementioned “data maintenance”. One example is s-X-AIPI project focused on the development of AI solutions with auto capabilities that require special attention to data quality starting with data ingestion.


Mireya de Diego. Researcher at de Industrial and Digital Systems Division

Aníbal Reñones. Head of Unit Industry 4.0 at the Industrial and Digital Systems Division

Redefining the value fo snacks; stress & snacks

Redefining the value fo snacks; stress & snacks

Let me tell you…

Food is intrinsically linked to our health and quality of life to the extent that melatimes play a crucial role in satisfying our needs both on a biological level (the nutrients provided by the food we eat) and on a psychosocial level. Among these moments are those associated with breaks, leisure or moments of distraction typically associated with the consumption of snacks.

The snack concept encompasses a wide range of products and is associated ready-to-eat foods that we find appetising, that do not cost too much, that are easy to carry around and that satisfy our cravings at the moment we need them.

The pandemic caused by Covid exarcebated the consumption of these products, for different reasons, such as the stress associated with loneliness, the situation per se or caring for our loved ones in pandemix conditions, turning them into products of true self-praise and indulgence and, even more, inseparable companions to beer and wine that lessened the asocial feeling that plagued us in many cases.

There is no doubt that our food consumption choices are associated with a multitude of factors, and stress is one of them. People are currently experiencing more stress than ever before and studies indicate that the year 2020 specifically was “the worst and most stressful year we have ever experienced” (Gallup, 2021)1 .

In the post-pandemic, a hybrid consumption scenario has been maintained where we continue to snack indoors, but we return to leisure occasions, to our workplaces, turning breaks and meal times into occasions for this snacking.

Snacking, or the consumption of snacks and caloric foods or beverages between meals, is a factor related to mental and physical health and has been specifically linked to obesity and thus with obesity-related. In fact, such products have been defined as an obesogenic product category.

This is where we can distinguish between healthy snacking (fruit, vegetables, nutritionally well-formulated processed foods) and the snacks that should be the subject of the law (high in fat, sugar, and high in salt)

Snacking, of whatever kind, is part of our diet, and some people even prefer this way of eating through small meals as part of their lifestyle, rather than larger meals that may encompass the concept of sitting down at the table. We have been talking about snacking as a trend for some time now and here at CARTIF, we continue to look at the best ways to satisfy

this new way of eating or this trend of snacking in between meals in a healthier way.

“Snacks is a food that is generally a samll portion consumed between main meals. Snacks are part of the daily diet. The question is, what are we looking for in a snack?”

How is nowadays market? What we want to eat as snack?

Snacks are still boomign in all their various forms. It is nor for nothing that the snack market is one of the largest and is forecast to grow by 6.2% per annum up to 2025. This growth is driven by a number of factors such as lifestyle, economic factors and, especially, the fact that we are eating out more, which has increased the demand for this type of products, packaged in portions and ready to eat.

As a result, snacking habits have become a subject of study for both the food industry and nutrition experts, especially as cosnumers pay more attention to maximising moments of well.being, indulgence or disconecction from the long list of activities that await us each day.

Moreover, we are increasingly aware of what we eat and the importnace of a helathy diet. With all this, we want snacks, they are part of our diet. With al this, we want snacks, they are part of our diet, but often we do not mkae the best choice (even knowing that we do not choose well) or we do not have the best products at our fingertips.

This dichotomy in the selection of the snack that we are going to taste makes it very complex to determine the guidelines we use to choose it and to make an analysis of what the consumer really demands.

“We are becoming more and more committed to our diet as a result of a better understanding of the realtionship between health and food, and snacks are no exception to this trend.”

Beyond the personal perception of what wellness and health mean, and the importance that this perception has in the choices we make when consuming these products, there are some established aspects that are also those that clearly set the market trend: we want to consume less sugar, less salt, less ultra-processed food, no additives, less trans fats and more fruit and vegetables.

In view of the consumption boom, although there is no doubt that the best snacks are at the lower end of the nutritional pyramid (fruit and vegetables), the Food Industry and researchers are working to promote and create wuality snack products that contribute to a more balanced diet through a nutrititonally balanced composition. For example, containing slower absorbing complex carbohydrates, protein, relevant micronutrients and healthies fats so that, overall, it can be considered a food that provides energy with adequate duration and nutrients with associated health benefits.

And what other factors are involved in our decisions?

Among the factors that can be included in pur eating behaviour are the so-called food environments, or what constitute the opportunities to obtain food where factors such as availability and accesssibility of food are considered. This makes it easier or harder for us to choose and consume food.

If we want to take care of ourselves, but do not want to give up snacking, and with the constrictions of the food environment in which we operate, our particular choices and food consumption can be a great opportunity to direct our attention towards healthier snacks.

In this sense, vending (or the sale of product through vending machines( is a good opportunity where schools, colleges, workplaces or other institutions can make more suitable snacks available at our fingertips, facilitating better choice.

Wouldn´t it be amazing to be able to say that snacks have come to be linke to health benefits for consumers?

We can think of formulating such products from a holistic perspective in which the product is part of a healthy and sustainable diet through its participation in the creation of a positive food environment and taking into account the above-mentioned psychosocial factors. In this light, we can start to think about the necessary ingredients.

It is well known that there is a growing interest in the consumption of certain ingredients or nutrients because of the functional properties they impart to the product and their relation to the maintenance or improvement of health-related diseases. Some options are the incorporation in the formulation to enrich with proteins from cereals or legumes, seed flours and sprouted grains, to include ingredients from the valorisation of by-products, to eliminate any additives and to process as little as possible.

The plant-based concept or foods made from plant-based ingredients has made a strong entry into this sector and is perceived as healthy products. We are looking for snacks that promote our “mental health” or a reduction in fatigue in the form of snacks that offer us energy to maintain our atttention. Breakfast substitutes in the form of a snack, but with all the nutrients we need, but we also want to know that they are sustainable products, local products and snacks that benefit our immune system – a long with list!

In the CARTIF Food Area, we continue to work in line with nutritional requirements in researching the use of new sources of ingredients for the development of healthy and sustainable snacks with good sensory acceptability. This is a real challenge for the food industry, aware of the priority of having products that improve well-being, provide good nutritional quality and health benefits.

1 Gallup (2021). Gallup Global Emotions.

Energy Communities as key actors in the energy transition. Constitution process

Energy Communities as key actors in the energy transition. Constitution process

We are currently witnessing a profound transformation of the global energy model, driven by the need to curb the steady increase in the Earth’s temperature caused by climate change. The EU´s commitment to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and to reduce GHG emissions to 55% of 1990 levels by 20301 means a huge challenge and requires a radical shift from a traditional centralised, fossil fuel-based energy system to a decentralised, decarbonised and renewable energy system.

In this context, the figure of Energy Communities emerges as a key actor that promotes the territorial deployment of renewable energies, empowers citizens and facilitates the generation of new services, consolidating local economies and fighting against energy poverty and climate change.

How can an Energy Community be set up?

In most cases they are generated by a group of citizens with support of a public entity. This support can come through the transfer of land or a building roof for the installation of photovoltaic panels for collective self-consumption. But something more is needed, it must be given a legal aspect. In this sense, there are two types, Renewable Energy Communities (REC)2 and Citizen Energy Community (CEC)3 . REC is focused on the production and consumption of renewable energy, while CEC is more aimen at the electricity sector, inlcuding electricity agreggation and storage, as well as the provision of recharging and energy efficiency services.

Next step is to decide what type of legal entity best meets the community needs. The options are: cooperative, association or commercial company (S.L or S.A), the first two being the most common, and in particular, the association, the simplest to implement because it does not require a public deed to be constituted. A constitution agreement is made between three or more natural or legal persons, and a founding act is drawn up. In addition, it has the advantage that the participation of its members is open and voluntary, with no minimum capital requirement.

Finally, nothing would make sense if there is no concrete project behind it. This could be collective self-consumption, a heating and cooling network, a citizen photovoltaic park, the provision of energy services, shared electric mobility or electric vehicle charging services, mainly.

To make any of these projects a reality, technology plays a key role. It is about to electrifying the grid without using fossil fuels and Energy Communities are a very valuable tool to change the current energy system and move in the direction of energy transition ,promoting distributed generation. Renewable generation technologies are already mature and are constantly evolving. Storage batteries, an indispensable complement to renewable generation, are competitive and constantly improving. In addition, smart management tools allow Energy Communities to be independent from the grid thanks to the intelligent data management and the implementation of decision-making tools based on Artificial Intelligence, machine-learning and predictive knowledge of user behaviour, environmental, socio-economic and electricity system elements.


2 Directiva UE 2018/2001, de 11 de diciembre de 2018, relativa al fomento del uso de energía procedente de fuentes renovables.

3 Directiva UE 2019/944, de 5 de junio de 2019, sobre normas comunes para el mercado interior de la electricidad.

Climate and sustainability policies, how are they related and why are they essential for the future of the planet?

Climate and sustainability policies, how are they related and why are they essential for the future of the planet?

Climate change is a phenomenon which has been scientifically observed for several decades, but it was not until the 1980´s that the term became widely popular and it has been growing ever since. Nowadays, not a week goes by without a new alarming headline appears, warning of record temperatures, decreasing rainfall, and the more frequent and damaging natural disasters.

Against this backdrop, mass media and public awareness of climate change has increased and, consequently, the pressure on governments and companies to establish more effective policies. Thus, climate and sustainability policies are created as actions and measures adopted by companies and policy-makers to face the climate change challenges and foster a sustainable future.

Although it was in 1972 when the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was created at the 1st United Nations Conference on the Environment, concern for environmental security is not a recent topic, but it is estimated that as early as 1750 b.C the Mesopotamian Hammurabi Code established penalties for those who damage the nature.

From then until today, climatic science has changed a lot and, currently, the Conference of the Parties (COP) are held annually. They are summits held by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in which the 197 member parties reach a consensus on climate measures for the coming years. Out of the 27 COPs that have been held, the most relevant have undoubtedly been COP3 or the Kyoto Protocol and COP21 or the Paris Agreement.

Climate policies are mainly focused on cutting Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, which are the major drivers of global warming. To achieve this goal, governments promote renewable energy sources, improved energy efficiency as well as independence from fossil fuel in the main economic sectors (e.g. transport, buildings and industry).

Climate policies ofthen have a specific objective when they are implemented, but they might sometimes generate unexpected effects, both positive (co-benefits) and negative (trade-offs). These co-benefits may not only be reflected in the environmental situation, but can also generate economic and even social benefits.

This interrelationship among economy, society and environment eas not taken into account until the emergence sustainability concept. Sustainability policies focus on promoting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are a total of 17 specific targets that address global challenges in the three basic pillars: environmental protection, social development and economic growth.

Though the application of climate measures in the most “traditional” sectors is essential to reduce our environmental impact, both policy-makers and the society have realised that a deeper redesign of our daily habits is needed. As a result, new regulations are continuously promoted in order to shift consumption trends and even to implement new approaches to educate future generations.

Nevertheless, all that glitters in not gold and it should be borne in mind that sustainability and climate policy implementation might be a complex process that requires a careful planning and assessment of the expected effects. Therefore, how can policy-makers be sure to establish a measure if there is a possibility of further damage? This is where “Integrated Assessment Models” (IAMs) are introduced.

IAMs are analytical tools for assessing and estimating the impacts of diverse climate policies in various areas such as the economy, the environment or the social awareness, by selecting which sectors and regions to focus on. With these models, policies can make scientifically supported decisions to address climate change or they can use them to justify previous measures.

The usefulness of IAMs is immense as long as they are well-used, but if the right optimal conditions are not met, they can become simply incomplete representations of the future. The correct functioning of these models requires the effective involvement of politicians and other stakeholders in the IAM development stage, as well as the correct definition of the policy to be modelled (what is the issue to be addressed and the objective of its implementation, what is its spatial and temporal resolution, etc.). Once these conditions have been met, it is essential to ensure that the chosen policy and model are compatible, as not all IAMs have enough capacity to forecast the impact of such a measure, either because it does not include the sector of application, because the geographical location cannot be specified, or because the temporal horizon is too long to be considered by the IAM. Currently, the efforts are focused on creating IAMs with greater diversity and capacity to implement policies that are not only related to the economy, but also to social and environmental factors.

At CARTIF we have been actively involved in IAMs for a long time and, in fact, together with our colleagues at UVA, we have developed an IAM called WILLIAM. We are also involved in several European projects, such as IAM COMPACT or NEVERMORE, which aimed at improving the assessment, transparency and cosistency of models.

Terahertz technologies in industry

Terahertz technologies in industry

In this post, I would like to talk about devices capable of acquiring images in the Terahertz spectral range, an emerging technology with great potential for implementation in industry, especially in the agri-food sector.

Currrently, machine vision systems used in industry work with different ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as visible light, infrared, ultraviolet, among others, which are not able to pass through matter. Therefore, these technologies can only examine the surface characterisitcs of a product or packaging, but cannot provide information from the inside.

In contrast, there are other technologies that do allow us to examine certain properties inside matter, such as metal detectors, magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound and X-rays. Metal detectors are only capable of detecting the presence of metals. Magnetic resonance equipment is expensive and large, mainly used in medicine, and its integration at industrial level is practically unfeasible. Ultrasound equipment requires contact, requires some skill in its application and is difficult to interpret, so it is not feasible in the industrial sector. Finally, X-rays are a very dangerous ionising radiation, which implies a great effort in protective coatings and an exhaustive control of the radiation dose. Although they can pass through matter, X-rays can only provide information about the different parts of a product that absorb radiation in this range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Technologies to examine properties inside matter

From this point of view, we are faced with a very important challenge, to investigate the potential of new technologies with the capacity to inspect, safely and without contact, the inside of products and packaging, obtaining relevant information on the internal characteristics, such as quality, condition, presence or absence of elements inside, homogeneity,etc.

Looking at the options, the solution may lie in promoting the integration in industry of new technologies that work in non-ionising spectral ranges with the ability to penetrate matter, such as the terahertz/near-microwave spectral range.

First radiological image. Röntgen´s wife´s hand
First radiological image in histroy. The hand of Röntgen´s wife

In 1985, Professor Röntgen took the first radiological image in history, his wife´s hand. 127 years have passed and research is still going on. In 1995, the first image in the Terhaertz range was captures, son only 27 years have passed since then. This shows the degree of maturity of Terahertz technology, still in its early stages of research. This radiation is not new, we know it is there, but today it is very difficult to generate and detect it. The main research work has focused on improving the way this radiation is emitted and captured in a coherent way, using equipment developed in the laboratory.

In recent years things have changed, new optical sensors and new terahertz sources with a very high industrialisation capcity have been obtained, which opens the doors of industry to this technology. Now there is still a very important task of research to see the scope of this technology in the different areas of industry.

CARTIF is committed to this technology and is currently working on the development of the industrial research project AGROVIS, “Intelligent VISual Computing for products/processes in the AGRI-food sector“, a project funded by the Junta de Castilla y León, framed in the field of computer vision (digital enabler of industry 4.0) associated with the agri-food sector, where one of the main objectives is to explore the different possibilities for automatically inspecting the interior of agri-food products safely.