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Interoperability roadmap for Heritage Buildings’ sustainability

The main aim of WP2 is to build an IT tool able to semantically merger all different languages. This system should answer to queries based on established common requirements (Fig. 1).

Fig 1 – Semantic Interoperability

We should consider the wider concept of cultural significance. For which we have to take into consideration how and why cultural significance is assessed and how it can be used as an effective focus and driver for management strategies and processes.

Effective management of the built cultural heritage requires a clear understanding of what makes a place significant and how that significance might be vulnerable and to ensure that what is important about the place is protected and enhanced.

The complexity of a Built Heritage unit can incorporate several addressable requirements in the field of: Conservation, Environment, Landscape, Maintenance and Valorization with all related specific technical languages.


We need to appoint a set of common requirements who everyone agrees in full consultation with all concerned interests. These should be derived by the general consensus of member of this Cost action, specialists or not in built cultural heritage. The requirements do not have to be highly structured, although it needs to be easy to read, and accompanied by supporting contextual data specific of what domain is concerned.

A domain ontology (or domain-specific ontology) represents concepts which belong to the particular field oh HBs.

Since domain ontologies represent concepts in very specific and often eclectic ways, they are often incompatible. Different ontologies in the same domain arise due to different languages, different intended usage of the ontologies, and different perceptions of the domain (based on cultural background, education, ideology, etc.).

The use of ontologies in supporting semantic interoperability is to provide a fixed set of concepts whose meanings and relations are stable and can be agreed to by users. We need to determine a set of Database in which terms are defined in semantic word (Fig. 2).

Semantic interoperability is the ability of computer systems to exchange data with unambiguous, shared meaning. Semantic interoperability is therefore concerned not just with the packaging of data (syntax), but the simultaneous transmission of the meaning with the data (semantics). This is accomplished by adding data about the data (metadata), linking each data element to a controlled, shared vocabulary. The meaning of the data is transmitted with the data itself, in one self-describing “information package” that is independent of any information system. It is this shared vocabulary, and its associated links to an ontology, which provides the foundation and capability of machine interpretation, inferencing, and logic.

Problems begin because every computer system stores data internally in a different way. This means that to communicate, data has to be translated from one format or internal language into another. The solution involves translating to a standard wire format (a lingua franca) that is understood by each party, but in computer interoperability, each and every message has to be translated from one format to another without error. The choice of interchange language is not sufficient to ensure Technical Interoperability. For computer processing, the information needs to be structured, complete, unambiguous, and validated.

Semantic-Symbolic & Conceptual representation

The CA members have to identify the most appropriate requirements. These will be sent to the stakeholders list with a dedicated survey for select those most appropriate to be inserted in the semantic database.



  1. Upgrade to modern needs.
  2. Define grades of compatibility between upgrades and protection of Heritage
  3. Define the interests of each organisation towards the heritage building in discussion;
  4. Define data about the nature and subject derived from research, such as comparison with similar places or features;
  5. Define management needs related with research gaps and research application
  6. Collect archive items (photos, documents, plans, will most frequently contain inherent information and context – for example, within a collection – to allow them to be documented appropriately;
  7. Existence of information standards
  8. Urban planning



  1. Life Cycle oriented approach which includes preventative management. BIM
  2. Understanding the building before carrying out the upgrading works
  3. Assessment of existing performance of the building, materials, Monitoring, Testing, Calculations.
  4. Assessment of construction of the building
  5. Assessment of services.
  6. Assessment and evaluation of expected risks to renovation. Calculations.
  7. Assessment of user’s needs.
  8. Assessment of building preservation status.
  9. Planning maintenance management, alterations and intervention strategies, upgrading energy efficiency. Computer Modelling. Lifecycle management.
  10. Impact Assessment of the chosen strategy.
  11. Impact Assessment of new uses.
  12. Inspection Activities.
  13. Inter Institutional Coordination – responsibilities, tasks, share of resources
  14. Diverse organisations to commit for working together and to embed their technical solutions in real-world working practice.
  15. Technical development of tools for interoperability.
  16. Existing of “information ecology”. The ecology metaphor emphasises that information systems and data standards can only succeed where they also relate to the needs and experience of all parties involved. As in a biological community, no one organisation can predominate to the exclusion of others without an ensuing catastrophe.
  17. Existing of “Standards of standards”.
  18. MIDAS XML is a set of World Wide Web Consortium compliant Extensible Markup Language (XML) schemas, based upon the MIDAS data standard.
  19. CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (ISO 21127).
  20. The Data Validator Tool (DVT) is an application developed to validate the content of MIDAS XML files. This tool will check the content (i.e., presence or absence) of the elements in MIDAS XML data against defined standards.
  21. Structure of residential quarters, public spaces, the scale of the building and its architectural features (colour, windows, doors, balconies, and other details).
  22. Landscaping and surroundings documentation.
  23. Make use of the new/emerging IT technologies for the HB.
  24. Make use of already existing 3D measurement/survey/techniques in a user friendly manner.
  25. Use virtual/augmented reality tools for the user experience enhancement.
  26. Include innovative technical tools for community side extensions (user displays/interactive agents/community space).



  1. Energy Consumption, Environmental impact of the construction and of the Demolition phases
  2. Evidential value, Historical value Aesthetic value, Cultural value, Communal value, Environmental value. Character and significance. Sensitivity of the buildings. Authenticity and integrity values.
  3. Energy efficiency, dynamic behaviour, latent heat, permeability, moisture barriers, hydro thermal behaviour, pores and capillarity, decay description.
  4. Type of Construction, special elements, Thermal bridging.
  5. Heating, Ventilation, Electronic control systems, Energy sources.
  6. Fire, Security, Construction risks, Natural risks (earthquakes, etc), Hazardous materials, Technical conflicts between traditional construction and required changes, Material compatibility.
  7. User requirements, Function of the building.
  8. Restoration of original performance, Conservation, Alteration, Maintenance, enhancement, removal of damaged alterations, Upgrading building elements.
  9. Energy, Heating, Ventilation, Adding Insulation, Draught proofing, Repairs, Electronic control systems, Energy sources.
  10. Users and Functions of the building
  11. Data accuracy and consistency;
  12. Data availability and accessibility.
  13. Degree of portability and scalability.
  14. Sustainability indicators (environmental indicators such as energy consumption, presence of on-site renewable energy).
  15. Grids and numerical scales and other features identification.



  1. Leading professional body doesn’t have a strong focus on the building fabric
  2. FM qualification structure doesn’t explicitly refer to historic buildings.
  3. Lack of conservation awareness across other professions involved with FM – e.g. building control, structural engineers.
  4. Lack of property data.
  5. Lack of Formal Guidance from Contractors, Trade literature, Certification Schemes, Building Regulations.
  6. Work to be done: best way to measure the energy performance of older buildings (now are not measured).
  7. Good practice in retrofitting are not communicated well
  8. Impact of retrofitting and the resulting environmental changes on older materials and finishes are not assessed.
  9. Information about properties is often not collected in one place.
  10. Computer-based solutions are frequently home-made and based on the IT knowledge of one person.
  11. Poor communication skills – facilities managers may not be good at sharing information.
  12. Hard to find examples of full BIM implementation for historic buildings.
  13. Lack of understanding that there is a difference between full BIM and 3d surveys.
  14. Lacking of a common language among different experts.
  15. Lack of national strategies for Heritage buildings connected with guidelines to apply at different scales (regional, local and building or surroundings).
  16. Lack of inter institutional coordination
  17. Lacks of standard and optimal electric/electronic products/systems for heritage buildings in some areas (as renewable energy generation, mainly photovoltaic).
  18. The existence of recommended practices when adding doing engineering in heritage buildings, with the aim of adding facilities related with comfort, security or lighting for maintenance or adaptation to tourist visits.