Energy performance: the challenges of smart buildings

This article puts the spotlight on intelligent buildings and their energy performance issues.


Energy performance is a fundamental issue. Beyond the need to preserve our planet, a non-optimized use of energy sources creates an increasing cost for companies. In addition, French and international regulations impose more and more constraints on companies in terms of energy consumption. To meet these challenges, the proptech sector develops solutions to make our buildings intelligent. Smart buildings allow a better management of energy consumption, improve the comfort of the occupants, and relieve the burden on the wallet.

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Energy performance of buildings: legal and regulatory framework

Various regulations already exist concerning the energy performance of buildings. However, the majority of them are only applicable to non-residential buildings. According to data from the European Observatory for Buildings, this category represents only 25% of the European building stock. It can therefore be considered that many legislative changes that will impact our homes are still to come.

European directive on the energy performance of buildings

At the European level, the European Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings (Directive 2010/31/EU published on July 8, 2010) sets minimum requirements and a common framework for calculating energy performance. This Directive was amended in 2018 by Directive 2018/844/EU in order to accelerate the cost-effective renovation of existing buildings and to promote smart technologies.

French law and energy performance of buildings

In France, a legislative framework already exists based on the so-called ELAN law (Law 2018-1021 of November 23, 2018 on the evolution of housing, development and digital technology). In addition to this law, the tertiary decree imposes progressive energy reduction targets for tertiary buildings. By 2050, energy consumption must be reduced by 60% compared to 2010 (or a year later).

In addition, a decree dated July 20, 2020 requires the installation of building automation and control systems in certain categories of buildings by 2025. These measures are also accompanied by numerous related reporting obligations.

Most French companies have therefore been preparing for this transition for several years. In addition to improving energy performance, they must also collect data related to their energy consumption and use it efficiently.


Energy performance: environmental issues

For most Europeans, the need to reduce energy consumption has been accepted for several years now. Buildings have the reputation of being high energy consumers and reducing their consumption is part of this approach.

According to the European Commission, buildings account for nearly 40% of the overall energy consumption in Europe and produce 36% of greenhouse gases. On the other side of the Atlantic, the proportions seem similar. The EIA, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), estimates that buildings account for 40% of US energy consumption compared to 32% for industry (2018 figures). There is therefore plenty of room for improvement.

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Energy performance: financial challenges

The financial stakes related to the energy consumption of buildings are also colossal. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit's Climate Change Resilience Index, climate change could result in losses to the global economy in the order of $7.9 trillion by 2050. This figure comes mainly from the cost of natural disasters and damage resulting from climate change.

Above and beyond this global amount, reductions in consumption bills are often a strong incentive to rethink buildings. In 2017, the European Commission published a fascinating report on the subject. According to the data collected by this study, intelligent heating and ventilation systems and optimized lighting would lead to savings of between 24 and 32%.


For several years now, smart buildings have therefore been the standard in the building sector. It facilitates compliance with regulations, improves the environmental impact of the building stock and helps reduce bills. The main obstacle to global deployment is often the height of the initial investment combined with a lack of transparency regarding the return on investment.

Smart building : optimal control of energy consumption

The optimization of energy use within the building stock is carried out in two ways. On the one hand, it involves rationalizing energy consumption by adapting to demand and habits. The objective here is to reduce the overall demand for energy.

On the other hand, it is necessary to turn to renewable energies to make up for the remaining demand. We could also mention a third axis, namely the modification of the consumption habits of the occupants.

Intelligent buildings, or smart buildings, therefore meet the first need. Thanks to a network of sensors, technologies integrated into buildings make it possible to achieve various objectives:


  • Regulating the temperature according to occupancy;
  • Optimize air and heat flows within a set of units or buildings;
  • Automate lighting with presence sensors;
  • Monitor the consumption of household appliances and apply predictive maintenance solutions;
  • Identify over-consumption of energy, establish reports and statistics and propose ways to optimize...


To this end, more and more buildings, especially non-residential buildings, are equipped with a Building Management System (BMS). This computer system allows to monitor and manage the different equipments within a building or a group of buildings. Nevertheless, such a device is not always necessary to make a building intelligent.

Indeed, the Internet of Things, the deployment of 5G and artificial intelligence should open new doors. The proptech sector - which includes players in this field - is in an insolent health, as KPMG indicates. According to a study published by Research and Markets, the growth rate of the smart building segment over the next five years is expected to reach 23% per year. The interest in smart buildings is therefore very present.

Data, the new energy for building

One element supports the advent of smart buildings: data. Making a building intelligent involves collecting and processing multiple data in real time. A strategy for optimizing energy consumption is based on the use of smart data. In addition, making data available enables occupants to become aware of their habits and modify or adapt their behavior accordingly.


Ryax offers a data engineering platform to process the data in an optimal way and to exploit them in the best conditions. Our solution is used in particular within the framework of projects of smart cities. If you want to know more, please contact Ryax or consult our product sheet.

La Ryax Team.