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The Smart route to Net Zero

Given that almost 39% of global carbon emissions are generated as a result of buildings – heating, lighting, running them, bridging this gap seems like a pretty simple solution to the problem? This can be broken down as 28% in building operations, and 11% in their construction and the materials used.

As temperatures soar throughout the UK this month, especially in the South of England, usage of Air Conditioning will be at an all-time high. With these numbers in mind, the refurbishment and deployment of Smart Technologies in existing buildings, as opposed to building new pre-fab buildings.

As more of our customer’s focus turns to ensuring their businesses are directed toward green credentials, we’re finding a lot are surprised at the overlaps and alignment of the Smart Systems we’re installing have in reaching such credentials, as we’ll go on to discuss. In this blog we’re not attempting to summarise what will be a revolution in the construction and developments industry, but explain the benefits of the technology in question, and how these can be deployed in existing buildings in feasible & real-terms.

What’s powering the Smart Building Net Zero Evolution?

As is the common setup in most Smart Technology deployments today, where feasible, everything is hosted from a central ‘hub’, typically referred to as a ‘Comms Room’ or similar. As discussed in previous blog posts, the advancements in technology (hardware utilising PoE technology), backbone infrastructure (cable credentials), means these central hubs are becoming far more achievable. In situations where cable lengths are running on their capacity boundary (55m Cat 6, 100m Cat 6a), second ‘points’ for smaller satellite/service cabinets would be included in the deployment plans. In the interactive graphic below, you’ll see a central network cabinet full of ports and cables – this is where the internet connection enters, and is ultimately distributed from….the majority of said cables are also ‘powered’ by the hardware in this cabinet – up to 150W.

Juniper Research (2022) have outlined that as it stands, there are circa. 45 million Smart Buildings globally (or buildings making use of Smart systems). Taking into account the current rate and predicted rate of growth in this space, there will be over 115 million Smart Buildings globally by the year 2026. This is as a result of the drive of energy efficiency from organisations (and residents in private sites), as the cost of energy continues to rise so severely. This study defines a ‘Smart Building’ as one that utilises connectivity and technology to ensure an efficient use of resources, whilst allowing for a safe and comfortable environment for the occupiers/inhabitants. Further to this, the study found that over 90% of expenditure on Smart Buildings ’till 2026 will be for commercial/business premises.

Given that almost 39% of global carbon emissions are generated as a result of buildings – heating, lighting & general operations, bridging this gap seems like a pretty simple solution to the problem? This can be broken down as 28% in building operations, and 11% in their construction and the materials used.

Smart buildings save energy by automating controls and optimising systems. Whereas an upgrade to a single component or isolated system can result in energy savings of 5–15%, a smart building with integrated systems can realise 30–50% savings in existing buildings that are otherwise inefficient. (ACEE, 2019).

In stages, how will we contribute to ‘Net Zero’ in this industry?

Refurb & Retro-Fit

In order to reduce emissions to acceptable levels, over 90% of existing buildings will require digital retro-fitting from the ground-up, with new & innovative Smart Technology (Schneider, 2022). Micro-Monitoring (specific devices), and evaluation of the metrics & analytics from this, such as intelligent heating, lighting and water controls, are all proven measures of bridging the gap with green targets – not to mention vastly reduced costs of operation.

Micro-Measuring, Metrics & Automation

1/5th of British & Irish organisations were found by Schneider Electric to have only recently started measuring and quantifying their energy consumption, thus aren’t exactly aware of what’s being wasted. From this study, 43% of organisations outlined they’d increased use of automation within buildings, however less than 1/5th had deployed a Building Management System. As an example, traditional ‘Smart Meters’ measure ‘total usage’, which is an un-constructive metric when attempting to ‘taper down’ usage throughout a building. On average 30% of building power usage goes to waste – this shows a concerning lack of insight into what’s being used, when, & how to optimise this.

Responsible Construction

Of course, this section isn’t within our expertise, however we’ll make some points from some trusted sources to build the full picture. As discussed above, 39% of global emissions are generated as a result of the Buildings/Construction industry, the split being 28% in their Operations (electricity, energy) and 11% in their construction (materials, land disruption etc). Of course banning the construction of new buildings will never be a feasible nor sensible option, but the reduction of new developments over the next few decades as predicted by sources mentioned above, combined with responsible construction methods will help to drive this down. World GBC has outlined in it’s 2021 report that by 2030, all new developments and refurbishments will have over 40% less embodied carbon, with vast immediate carbon reduction, and that all new developments are strictly net zero operationally (in terms of carbon).

Please reach out if you’re interested in discussing the Smart Building ‘Net Zero Revolution’ for your business, or have a vested interest yourself and/or wish to collaborate & we’ll get straight back to you.