Smarter approaches for sustainable buildings

By Daniela Pandrea, Director of Connected Services, Honeywell Buildings Solutions Europe

 Smart buildings are becoming increasingly popular, gaining attention from facility managers who are under pressure to find new ways of reducing operational costs, improving the experience of the building and meeting sustainability goals. Much of this attention is fuelled by the Internet of Things (IoT) and the growing popularity of integrated technology. In fact, by 2020, Gartner estimates there will be over 20 billion connected IoT devices with approximately 2.5 billion sensors in smart buildings.

The importance of sustainable operations has also been highlighted by the introduction of new laws and regulations. The 2015 Energy Efficiency regulations were designed to ensure properties are as energy efficient as possible. As of April 1st 2018, this law states new leases cannot be granted to either residential or commercial property with an EPC rating of less than ‘E’ in England and Wales.

Utilising the cloud to work smarter

 Smart buildings generate a huge amount of data, and the cloud provides the network of servers required to store, manage, and process the information. However, data and the cloud is not enough to create value. If the data is directed in a digestible way to building experts, they can detect anomalies ahead of time to then recommend and implement improvements, with the help of algorithms and visualisation software. This information from IoT and expertise blend helps to quickly identify any areas where key improvements in energy efficiencies can be made.

Companies can merge different sets of data within the same cloud space, for instance Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) data and space utilisation data. They are then able to see what areas within a building are or are not occupied. With this knowledge, HVAC equipment usage can be managed accordingly through building owners optimising set points and schedules. Energy usage is cut and unlike in a more traditional building, asset life is actually extended. This shows up on the customer’s balance sheet, providing them with a competitive advantage as well as a greater return for their shareholders simply by working smarter, not harder.

 Gaining a greater understanding with energy performance contracting

 Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) offers an alternative approach that can be taken to optimise energy management. In 2013, Peterborough City Council set out to identify the ways in which it could design and implement appropriate energy efficiency programmes to maximise energy saving benefits. This was important given its substantial property portfolio, including 23 schools, three swimming pools, a sports centre, a library and a town hall.

With such a wide range of properties to consider, the council found the best solution in EPC – an agreement between a customer and a contractor to manage measures that guarantee energy savings.  The EPC solution provided the council with the flexibility to accommodate the best individual strategies for each piece of property.

Each facility was subjected to an extensive energy performance analysis. After gaining actionable insights, Peterborough City Council introduced several energy conservation measures. Building control platforms were either upgraded or replaced with superior alternatives, as were air-handling units, lighting systems and pool filtration systems. After implementing these changes, Peterborough City Council has reported 1,794 tonnes of CO2 savings and a £2.0 million net profit, achieved largely through a reduction in energy bills and carbon tax.

Furthermore, EPC’s are becoming an even more attractive solution with contractors beginning to explore the incorporation of analytics. It helps to ensure the equipment on site operates within the desired thresholds, as it has to perform within set rules around energy usage and performance. Anomalies can then quickly be identified and corrected before they pose a problem for facility managers. Building equipment performance is optimised and there is less of a possibility that the energy conservation goals of the contract are not met.

Businesses are always on the lookout for ways to become more cost effective, and smart buildings can allow them to run their buildings and facilities in a more sustainable, profitable manner. Cutting energy usage must also be given due importance on account of the 2015 Energy Efficiency regulations.

Additionally, research into IoT device deployment for HVAC systems, lighting systems, and some types of electrical loads by Intel has shown that in a 75,000 sq foot building with energy bills averaging $2.32 per sq foot per year, companies can save anywhere between $15,000 and $50,000 per year. And it’s not only establishments like Peterborough City Council that can benefit. Improving performance is also a priority for retailers, commercial properties, airports and hospitals. And whether opting for connected services or energy performance contracting, operational targets can be met and existing assets can be revivified.

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