Smarter, more efficient

How buildings and offices can contribute to the energy quest

By Philippa Martin-King

Buildings are huge end-users of energy. Figures for OECD countries, even on the basis of the most conservative of estimates, show that the building sector accounts for at least 25 % of total energy use. In many cases that figure increases to 40 % or even 50 % in non-residential buildings.

Beorma quarter, Birmingham, England Beorma quarter, Birmingham, England

Achieving greater efficiency through a systems approach

Clearly any quest for greater energy efficiency needs to consider the situation in an overall manner, taking what technicians refer to as "a systems approach", one where each element, rather than being considered independently, is seen as part of a whole. In that manner, even the smallest of energy savings becomes relevant and appreciable as part of an economy of scale.

Isolated pilot projects have succeeded in demonstrating how smart buildings can contribute to the energy quest. Now it is time to show how an intelligent use of software in combination with sensors that control and manage lighting, heating and cooling in each room and provide access to different parts of a building, according to specific needs, can help diminish not only energy consumption, but also emissions and costs.

Smart energy from a variety of sources

Mixing a variety of energy sources and interlinking them through the Smart Grid can do much to help buildings become smarter. Taking a systems approach can provide for economies of scale.

Finally, using software-controlled planning systems that take into account the particularity of each energy source on the grid to cater for electricity demand and supply should enable not only single buildings, but entire areas to avoid the extreme situations of the past. The end result is that it should be possible for buildings to become at least energy neutral, and in many cases even energy positive.

IEC International Standards cover a multitude of the devices and systems used in buildings. The June e-tech looks at some of the IEC work being carried out for elevators and escalators, air-conditioning and heating systems, building safety and access control, communication and automation, among others.

Beorma quarter, Birmingham, England Beorma quarter, Birmingham, England
Fusionopolis, Singapore Fusionopolis, Singapore
Philippa Martin-King, Managing Editor e-tech. Philippa Martin-King, Managing Editor e-tech.