Smart buildings and the climate emergency

There are many benefits to using smart technology within the built environment. In this post, we’ll explore how implementing tech can make buildings more efficient to minimise their contributions to climate change. 

No doubt, the Coronavirus crisis will teach us many things. One lesson being that the actions of many have demonstrable results that contribute to the bigger picture.  

For example, the state-enforced lockdown in China has already significantly decreased the country’s air pollution levels.  

The same could be said for smart buildings and the climate emergency.  

If buildings account for 40% of global energy production then logically, reducing each building’s contribution to greenhouse gases would contribute to an overall healthier climate. 

With Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis battering the UK in early February, we have seen firsthand the destructive nature of the climate. Each of us have a part to play and although our individual actions may seem small, together they add up to a much bigger picture. 

What kind of technology could be implemented

The possibilities are endless, and range from easy to implement, to super high-end intricate solutions. 

Quick wins for energy efficiency

One simple solution would be to ensure all of a building’s lightbulbs are energy saving bulbs. Also known as compact fluorescent lamps, this technology is considered to be four times more efficient (using 50-80% less energy) with a lifespan that is up to 10 x longer than standard incandescent bulbs. 

Automation for energy efficiency

A major problem for buildings is that they lack intelligent automation. What this means is that on a bank holiday, when no one is using it, all the heaters will fire up and the lights will turn on as if it is in use. This equates to a massive amount of wasted energy.  

A more complex solution would attempt to automate this process so that the building is able to go into a low power mode when it is not in use, whether this be on a bank holiday, or after everyone has left in the evening. 

However, automation could also work on a much smaller scale within the building. Lights and heating could use occupancy sensors to determine whether individual rooms are being used or not and could then maintain minimal or even off lighting and heating settings until they are required.  

One key benefit of automation is its instantaneous nature. Controls are inputted extremely quickly which makes further efficiencies as lights and heating turns off faster than a person could. 

Sharing data between smart buildings

Operating in this way generates a lot of data. Over time, this data becomes extremely valuable as building management learn how their technology produces energy efficiencies. 

If this data is then shared between buildings, everyone can learn to make more informed choices as to how to implement smart technology to drive energy efficiencies in buildings. 

This could mean that instead of having a few super energy efficient buildings, there are standard protocols that can be used for new buildings to become efficient right off the bat.  

But does it actually work?

In short, yes. 

Our work implementing smart technology for Informa at 240 Blackfriars in London was found to be 50% more energy efficient than non-smart floors within the same building. The space also achieved the highest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating of Platinum (with the second highest score in the UK). 

For more details on Informa, head to the case study section on our website. 

If you’re conscious about designing an energy efficient space, or have a building you want to contribute less to climate change, then please get in touch!