Smart buildings and the climate emergency

We believe that we all have a part to play in tackling climate change. 

In February 2020 Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis battered the country and on 31st July 2020 Heathrow Airport recorded the third hottest day ever, at 37.8 degrees Celsius. Despite the UK experiencing a relatively mild climate, we certainly felt the effects of climate change. 

Scientific studies indicate that extreme weather events are likely to become more frequent or more intense with human-induced climate change. 

The time to act is now! 

Where does our work with buildings come into this? 

The built environment accounts for a shocking 40% of global energy consumption. This, coupled with the recent trend in climate change, means that the race to make our buildings smarter and more efficient has started. 

One of the greatest benefits of smart buildings is reduced energy consumption due to more efficient devices and systems. 

Our work for Informa at 240 Blackfriars in London made their floors 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. 

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 

Initially you should take a careful look at how your temperature, ventilation, and lighting systems are used, and take stock of what is necessary and what isn’t. Really simple things like leaving windows open when the heating/ventilation systems are running, limiting thermostats to required temperatures, ensuring that heating/ventilation aren’t in use at the same time could have a big impact on how energy efficient your building is. 

Ensure your 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. 

Compliance with your occupants is another major area to look at. There’s no point putting a lot of time, effort, and money into analysing your building’s energy usage and refitting bulbs with more efficient alternatives if people using the space continue to leave lights and heating on when not in use. 

Automation for energy efficiency 

A major problem for buildings is that they lack intelligent automation. This means 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 is a massive waste of energy.  

Automation is incredibly effective when integrating systems. When you collect weather data, occupancy data, calendar data (bank holidays), there are so many powerful options that will generate energy efficiencies. 

For example, the lights and heating systems will automatically go into a lower power mode on a bank holiday or in the evening. Or perhaps when a room has no occupants the lights will turn off only in that room, or section of the building. 

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.  

There’s loads of ways we can make your buildings more energy efficient. With us, no solution is too ambitious or innovative, we’ll work to get it right for your needs. Have a project in mind? Get in touch.