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The Building Energy Management System: How it Can Help in the Fight Against Climate Change

27 Sep 2021

With the UK set to host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021, it is a good time for building owners to start taking a serious look at ways they can individually contribute to the fight against climate change.

The COP26 summit, believed by many to be the world’s best chance to get runaway climate change under control, will bring over 190 world leaders together with a view to accelerating action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

For nearly three decades, the UN has brought together almost every country in the world for global climate summits known as COPs (‘Conference of the Parties’). During this time, climate change has been exacerbated from a fringe issue to a global priority. This year will be the 26th annual summit, hence the name COP26.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed, through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), to bring forward national plans setting out the degree to which they would reduce their emissions.

The Paris Agreement came about during COP21, when every country made an agreement to work together to limit global warming to below two degrees, aiming for 1.5 degrees. This is important because every fraction of a degree of warming can lead to lost lives and damaged livelihoods.

What is also important is that every step taken towards limiting global warming, however minor, can make a significant collective difference. And this is where we need to turn our attention to building energy management.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), buildings are responsible for 36 per cent of global final energy use, and 39 per cent of energy and process-related carbon dioxide emissions.

Heating and cooling are the two major contributors to global warming, accounting for almost 40 per cent of overall energy consumption in buildings, and 42 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions.

Air conditioning is a significant issue, having grown to more than 2.7 per cent from 2017 to 2018. This is set to increase even more as global warming intensifies.

It is, therefore, clear that energy efficiency in the built environment needs to be a core focus for property developers and owners. Working towards zero carbon will need to have firm origins in the construction phase, but it is vital that there is a marked move towards decarbonisation in existing buildings too.

According to the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), the existing stock will represent 80 per cent of all buildings in use by 2050. As new buildings already tend to be planned around sustainability, the most sweeping changes are going to come from improving energy efficiency in existing stock. This is where the building energy management system comes into play.

What is a building energy management system?

Energy Management System

A building energy management system (BEMS) is a sophisticated platform that allows for the monitoring and control of a building’s energy needs. BEMS technology also has the ability to control and monitor other aspects of a building, such as HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), security and lighting.

Since its introduction in the 1960s, BEMS technology has become increasingly advanced. Now, with the potential for integration with Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, the scope for the BEMS is considerable. It is in fact now possible to monitor multiple buildings at once, as well as integrate functions of several buildings. For example, cooling and heating needs can be combined across different buildings, resulting in higher energy savings that go well beyond what the energy optimisation of a single building could ever achieve.

An IoT-powered BEMS will help drive energy savings in three core ways:

1. Usage monitoring

According to the Carbon Trust, around 20 per cent of a business’ annual energy costs are wasted through the use of energy inefficient equipment. It goes without saying that this wastage is also contributing to climate change.

Analytics that show first-hand how energy is being used throughout a building can be used to identify energy sucker appliances, as well as inefficient processes. Often, hidden issues can be uncovered that affect both environmental and operational quality, not only identifying the reason for higher than necessary energy costs, but also the reasons behind overly frequent equipment repair and replacement.

2. Predictive analytics-driven automation

IoT sensors provide a real-time view of all energy sources within a building. The data they relay can be used to predict energy needs in relation to various external factors, such as variations in weather and seasonal changes.

This information can be used to develop automations, such as switching off lights when there is sufficient natural light coming through from outside or reducing indoor temperature in line with climatic changes. Predictive analytics can also be used to reduce maintenance costs and prolong the lifespan of fixtures and fittings. Perfect for the facilities manager tasked with driving down expenses and reducing energy consumption.

3. Sensor-driven automation

Smart sensors, when used as part of an integrated IoT platform, make it possible to automate various building controls in line with set conditions.

Examples would be the automatic switching off lights, heating or air conditioning when space utilisation sensors detect there is no one in a particular room of a building, and only alerting cleaning teams to attend bathrooms when it is detected that they have been used, rather than to a set schedule, which may be unnecessary and lead to resource wastage.

BEMS: One platform, a multitude of possibilities

Green Office Space

A building energy management system that’s integrated with the overall building management system via IoT connected devices makes it possible to monitor energy consumption across the board, giving a broader view of how energy is used, and where wastage could be cut.

IoT technology is the driver in all of this, providing rich insights into a building’s overall energy capacity, allowing informed decisions to be made that could lead to critical energy savings with the potential to contribute towards the fight against climate change.

How Smart Spaces can help manage building energy consumption

Smart Spaces is an IoT driven platform that collates vital data from every facet of a building, including valuable data related to energy consumption.

The smart dashboard feature of the Smart Spaces technology aids useful goal setting and valuable energy saving automations, whilst predictive analytics take all the guesswork out of energy usage optimisation within a building.

To discover how Smart Spaces could help cut your energy consumption and assist with your own personal climate change mission and sustainability commitment, you are welcome to get in touch or request a demo.

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