The energy crisis and climate change are top global concerns and thus important for all businesses – especially when it comes to buildings. There is an urgent need to introduce sustainable changes in existing structures as well as newly constructed buildings, irrespective of their size.
Impact and possibilities of today’s buildings
The building sector is particularly affected by two challenges: as the latest data shows, buildings are responsible for 40% of the world’s energy consumption and 42% of total CO2 emissions. Furthermore, the global floor area in buildings is expected to double by 2060, threatening to increase energy consumption and CO2 emissions even further.
The goal of improving the energy efficiency of buildings is one of the most important aspects of the infrastructure transition, although only 37% of companies globally have made progress here. The imperative for building owners to prioritize digital and sustainable transformation of their properties has never been clearer. Fortunately, advanced technological solutions are paving the way for significant progress towards making buildings more energy efficient and thus effectively contributing to decarbonization.
A large portion of available building data remains unused, increasing the challenge of reducing system failures, disruptions and downtime.
The adoption of smart building solutions has the potential for substantial cost and energy savings, with industry experts estimating efficiencies of a minimum of 30% and up to 60% – dependent on the specific building type. To meet this challenge, the emerging political scenario is introducing directives such as the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and the US Inflation Reduction Act. These regulations and incentive programs are actively encouraging the construction of smarter and more sustainable buildings, in addition to upgrading existing buildings. Owners should take advantage of this opportunity to future-proof their buildings not only to meet regulatory requirements, but also to take advantage of increased efficiency and meet their own decarbonization goals.
Three essential technologies
Future-proof buildings need to be adapted to meet sustainability requirements. Some existing solutions are already dedicated to this: making buildings smarter and more autonomous, including aspects such as automation, energy efficiency, safety enhancements, and improved health and productivity. And they integrate seamlessly into everyday tasks. Digitalization lies at the core, this process is facilitated by three solutions:
- IoT Solutions: There are a wide range of IoT components, including sensors, valves, damper actuators and more. All of them are equipped with intelligent features that enable them to communicate through Internet protocols. These advancements lead to faster installation and service, proactive maintenance, and improvements in energy efficiency and other KPIs.
- Edge Computing: This involves the deployment of advanced data processing services such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) on site. Computing nodes are still connected to the cloud and ensure remote access and automatic updates. This results in quick response times, minimal latency and reliable operation of critical building automation applications.
- Cloud-Based Applications and Services: These play an indispensable role in collecting and analyzing extensive data through remote and distributed computing infrastructure. This framework provides enough computing power to efficiently manage and optimize the entire building portfolio, making facilities smarter and more efficient.
Insights gathered from previously secret data sources can prove invaluable in the pursuit of performance optimization and maintenance, even when managed remotely. Moreover, the synergy of these levers unlocks the full potential of AI in smart buildings.
From traditional to smart buildings and beyond
A large portion of available building data remains unused, increasing the challenge of reducing system failures, disruptions and downtime. Siled data also makes it challenging to increase overall system performance while extending system lifetime. Primary reason: 80% of commercial floor space in buildings lacks smart technology integration, leaving many operators dependent on on-site visits. However, there are three essential steps towards automation – promoting energy efficiency and sustainability and strengthening the value of buildings.
step 1 The building should be equipped with sensors and automation systems, so that previously isolated building systems and established networks become interconnected. This allows remote monitoring and diagnosis.
step 2 With fault detection and diagnosis, proactive and preventive measures can be established and executed.
step 3 ML algorithms enable autonomous activities and predictive management and maintenance, providing cost savings of up to 40% compared to reactive approaches. The resulting deeper analysis further optimizes system performance.
Adoption of smart building solutions has the potential for substantial cost and energy savings.
In truly autonomous buildings, workflows are seamlessly integrated, and advanced analytics enable early prediction of potential failures. However, it is important to ensure that cybersecurity, data protection, storage and processing demands are constantly being met.
Digitization is key
When it comes to solving these challenges, we need proactive measures. Digitalization can not only ensure the future resilience of the built environment in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability, but also protect investments. However, the question arises: why haven’t more buildings moved toward smarter and more autonomous approaches? Companies often struggle with challenges such as high costs, scalability, integration and compatibility issues. Nevertheless, the technologies needed for buildings of any size are present and connect seamlessly, such as IoT solutions, edge computing as well as cloud-based applications and services like Building Are part of the accelerator. All of this makes the transition easy and affordable for everyone and lowers the entry barriers to smart technology that can help building owners preserve the value of their property.