Smart Grids and Smart Buildings: Open innovation and Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity must be a priority throughout the lifecycle of all products used in smart buildings as it is for Distribution System Operators that connect physical and digital infrastructure.

October 21, 2021

In these times of urgent need of decarbonisation, smart buildings can contribute significantly to reduce energy consumption through the integration of new technologies. Digitalisation, open innovation, and data sharing are key components of the new technologies used to decarbonise the building sector. Cybersecurity must be a priority throughout the lifecycle of all products used in smart buildings as it is for Distribution System Operators that connect physical and digital infrastructure. A good cooperation and coherent approach towards cybersecurity between smart buildings and distribution system operators is crucial to stay cyber safe.


The building sector account globally for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions. Decarbonising the sector is a fundamental pillar for achieving the EU’s energy and environmental goals and to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Smart technologies and digitalisation play a crucial role in the transformation of the whole building value chain, including occupants, municipalities, and power grids. Member states ensure that all new buildings and buildings undergoing major renovations include interoperable infrastructure supported by open technical standards for recharging points for electric vehicles for every parking space without re-intervention on the building structure.


The goal of the InterConnect project is to develop interoperable solutions in an ecosystem, connecting smart homes, buildings and grids and efficient, effective, and satisfying products and services for the users that can be integrated into existing systems. The InterConnect ecosystem concerns IoT systems deployed in residential environment as well as large industrial systems like smart-cities and smart-grid context. This creates some unique cybersecurity issue since though IoT has been widely applied worldwide, many IoT devices, communications and platforms lack security and privacy considerations, which may pose security and privacy risks.


Seven trial sites are involved in the InterConnect project, each implementing the IoT ecosystem in different forms: For example, in the Dutch pilot the IoT ecosystem will be installed in a commercial and a residential building with the purpose of a state-of-the-art building management system, increase the level of comfort, safety, to lower the peak load of energy consumption and provide a state-of-the-art smart home and an ecosystem to add individual sensors, devices, and appliances. During the project all demos implement the Security and privacy Policies Compliance Solution (SPOCS) and all stakeholders involved can test the approach proposed by InterConnect.


Making buildings “smarter” is an important tool for the decarbonisation of the building sector but it creates considerable challenges for the stakeholders involved. R&I projects such as InterConnect are crucial for all stakeholders to learn how to face the challenges. The common goal is to guarantee the cybersecurity of the energy sector in an age of increased digitalisation since it is of utmost importance for all digital and data activities. Therefore, the regulatory framework must be strict enough to protect data and critical infrastructure, while giving enough freedom to effectively structure data exchange needed to make smart buildings interoperable.



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