Better regulation of building energy with data

In recent years, data collection and processing has enabled the deployment of smart buildings and increased flexibility in energy use. More than just a brick building, buildings now adapt to the behavior of their inhabitants, just like the heart rate, which changes with effort.

 

The problems related to the energy consumption of buildings are well known. The days when the heating was running at full speed with a window open to benefit from a little fresh air are definitely over. Whether for economic, ecological, or regulatory reasons, buildings are destined to reduce their consumption.

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Regulating energy, the key to optimizing consumption

In the 19th century, the thermostat was born. This device aimed at maintaining a room at a constant temperature was a first milestone in the regulation of energy consumption.

In 2020, the regulation of consumption is considered a priority to reduce the global demand for energy. While simple gestures help to regulate this consumption, the development of technologies makes it possible to go one step further. Appliances and equipment can now adapt in real time to occupancy, climatic and other conditions. To do this, all that is needed is to set up a network of sensors and install a suitable software solution, such as a Building Management System

Figures concerning the energy consumption of buildings

Buildings are among the largest consumers of energy. Here are the latest figures published by the French CEREN (Centre d'études et de recherches économiques sur l'énergie) on the subject (2018 figures):

 

  • Annual energy consumption in the residential sector: 415.5 TWh;
  • Annual energy consumption of the tertiary sector: 1315.4 TWh

 

Also, at the European level, non-residential buildings are significantly more energy intensive than residential buildings (+40% per square meter). This difference can be explained in particular by the considerable efforts made in recent years in the residential sector.

On a national scale, the building sector (including construction) accounts for 43% of annual energy consumption and produces 23% of greenhouse gases.

On a global level, the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicates that buildings and the construction sector account for one third of global energy consumption and 40% of direct and indirect CO2 emissions. In 2019, the final energy consumption in buildings would have reached 128 exajoules. Worryingly, while consumption stabilized between 2013 and 2016, it has been increasing again in recent years.

For many, these figures remain very abstract. Nevertheless, the effect of this consumption can be seen on a daily basis, at the environmental level or more simply in the energy bill.

Legal obligations concerning energy consumption

In recent years, numerous regulations have emerged to limit the energy consumption and carbon footprint of buildings. The European directive on the energy performance of buildings dates back to 2002 and has been amended several times, notably in 2010 and 2018. It is known that the European Union is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050.

In France, several standards exist, one of the most emblematic of which is the Tertiary Decree. Under this standard, tertiary sector buildings must reduce their energy consumption by 40% by 2030, 50% by 2040 and 60% by 2060. If they have not already done so, it is therefore high time to reverse the trend.

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Regulating energy use: everyday gestures

Of course, regulating energy consumption does not always imply great technological solutions. Some simple gestures can be adopted on a daily basis to reduce or better manage energy consumption:

 

  • Avoid leaving your appliances on standby. WWF estimates that this measure can save up to 10% on your electricity bill
  • Unplug appliances when they are not in use
  • systematically turning off lights or using presence detectors
  • use a room thermostat
  • ...

 

However, these essential actions require active behaviour and human intervention. Thanks to technology, other solutions exist to make our habitat intelligent and adaptive.

Data, the key to better regulating energy use

Smart building, smart city, smart grid, intelligence is everywhere these days. Thanks to big data, we are promised an optimized use of energy according to our habits and behaviors. More than a promise, data collection has made this ideal possible.

By implementing a network of sensors, it is possible to collect enough data to allow a real time adaptation of our energy consumption according to its needs. 

At the building level, this translates into the growth of the PropTech sector and management systems such as the Building Management Systems, also known by the acronym GTB. A BMS is a computer system designed to control and supervise all the equipment installed in a building. Such a tool allows to detect or anticipate possible breakdowns but also to manage the supply of electricity and energy in an optimal way.

The example of smart grids and smart meters

Smart grids are an excellent example of energy use regulation. These smart grids have been the standard for some years now. In fact, France is relatively advanced in this field, with numerous projects in the country.

The smart grid aims to optimize the distribution, production, and consumption of electricity. These different parameters are adapted in real time according to usage and demand.

It is thanks to data collection and the development of the Internet of Things that concepts such as smart metering or smart grid have been able to develop. According to a European Commission study published in 2019, there will be 225 million smart electricity meters and 51 million smart gas meters on the continent by 2024. This means that more than three-quarters of Europeans will have a smart electricity meter. On average, these smart meters can reduce electricity consumption by 2 to 10%.

Regulating energy consumption, how to proceed?

Before making any changes, the ideal approach is to carry out a comprehensive energy audit to identify the weaknesses and strengths of the current structure. Many companies are reluctant to make major investments. These are not always necessary.

Once the priorities have been defined, the regulation process involves the installation of intelligent sensors and the setting up of a data analysis and processing system. This enables real-time action to be taken, either manually or ideally automated.

 

Ryax offers an open source data processing platform that can perfectly adapt to this type of use. To learn more about our product, we suggest you contact us to discuss it.

The Ryax Team.