With world leaders having agreed to work towards keeping global temperature rise down to 1.5 degrees Celsius following COP26, and with the built environment responsible for almost 40 per cent of energy and process-related carbon dioxide emissions, a significant move must be made towards creating energy-efficient buildings. One solution that all buildings and facilities managers should be looking to is smart energy building technology.
Powered by Internet of Things connectivity, the smart building makes it possible to monitor and manage energy usage across multiple properties, setting automated processes that have the ability to reduce energy wastage in considerable proportions.
Here we look at the vital role smart building technology is playing in creating energy-efficient buildings and how it could prove the ultimate game-changer when it comes to making a difference to climate change.
Why are energy-efficient buildings so important?
By the end of this year’s COP26, 151 countries had created new climate plans called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), with a pledge to cut their emissions by 2030. To stick to the goal of keeping temperature rise down to 1.5 degrees Celsius, global emissions need to be cut in half by the end of this decade.
Limiting global warming is crucial because every fraction of a degree of climatic warming can lead to drastic consequences, including lost lives and damaged livelihoods.
Whilst reducing global warming can seem like a massive undertaking, it is important to bear in mind that even the smallest step has the power to make a considerable difference. The built environment is one area in which strides rather than steps can be made.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) says that buildings are responsible for 36 per cent of global final energy use and 39 per cent of energy and process-related carbon dioxide emissions.
Processes within a building that contribute significantly towards global warming include heating and air conditioning. Combined, they account for just under 40 per cent of overall energy consumption in buildings and 42 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions. The use of air conditioning is on the rise due to a growing demand for workplace comfort and will only continue as global warming intensifies.
Whilst methods of reducing emissions and bringing down temperature rise are already being built in at the construction phase, there is a massive need to target existing building stock with decarbonisation strategies. The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) says that existing stock will represent 80 per cent of all buildings in use by 2050, demonstrating the scope of the task at hand.
So now the question, how to achieve energy-efficient buildings retrospectively?
How to achieve energy-efficient buildings?
Putting policies in place to reduce energy wastage and setting rules for occupants, such as turning lights and heating off in unoccupied spaces, is a start. But buildings managers need to go a whole lot further if significant changes are going to be made, and technology will play a major role in this respect.
A smart energy building, or smart building, is controlled by a technology-powered building energy management system. Internet of Things (IoT) connected sensors and devices located around the building actively monitor energy consumption throughout the premises, relaying valuable data about how the energy is being used and where it can be reduced. This data is able to inform critical decisions, leading to substantial energy savings.
How does a smart building energy management system help create energy-efficient buildings?
A smart building energy management system monitors a building’s energy needs, feeding back rich information that enables the building or facilities manager to more efficiently control energy usage.
But more than this, using the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the smart platform is able to automate a variety of processes, including the control of the building’s HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system, as well as its lighting and security.
Internet of Things (IoT) technology is a huge game-changer when it comes to reducing energy wastage in buildings. Not only has it made it possible to monitor a single building’s entire energy usage in real-time, analyse a host of knock-on effects and discover how one action can have an impact on many others, it has also opened up the possibility to monitor multiple buildings concurrently, optimising energy usage in ways that can have a sizeable impact when it comes to fighting climate change.
Let’s take a closer look at how smart building technology creates energy-efficient buildings.
IoT sensors relay real-time information on a building’s energy usage. This data can be used to predict energy needs in line with external factors, including climatic and seasonal variations. What’s more, automation can be set against particular conditions.
In terms of creating energy-efficient buildings, such automation could include:
- Switching off air conditioning, heating or lighting when a sensor detects a room is unoccupied
- Reducing artificial light intensity when sensors detect a certain level of natural light in a space is sufficient for working needs
- Turning down the heat as outdoor temperatures rise
- Altering cleaning personnel to attend restrooms only when they have been detected as used, rather than on a set schedule when it may not be necessary to waste resources
The Carbon Trust says that in the region of 20 per cent of the annual energy costs of a business are wasted due to energy inefficient equipment. Of course, such wastage will also be contributing to climate change, so it is vital that this issue is addressed, alongside general energy usage.
In the smart building, IoT sensors are used to identify energy-draining appliances and inefficient processes that lead to energy wastage.
Problems due to ageing, un-serviced or poorly maintained equipment often go unnoticed, with energy wastage continuing until the appliance in question finally fails. IoT sensors placed on or around equipment can detect the likes of unusual sounds or vibrations, relaying such anomalies as potential issues so that an engineer can be summoned to deal with the problem before it causes damaging downtime.
Such a process ensures optimum equipment efficiency and helps avoid overly frequent equipment repair and replacement, which is a drain on raw materials and, therefore, energy.
How can Smart Spaces help create energy-efficient buildings?
Smart Spaces is an Internet of Things powered platform that works alongside the building management system, gathering crucial data from every part of a building, including highly valuable energy consumption related data.
The smart dashboard element of Smart Spaces technology makes it possible to set energy consumption goals and create beneficial energy-saving automation. Furthermore, its predictive analytics make energy usage optimisation a breeze, including across multiple premises.
To discover how Smart Spaces could help reduce your energy consumption and assist you in creating energy-efficient buildings, please get in touch or request a demo.