Smart buildings to achieve electricity efficiency

energy efficiency, smart building, energy consumption, smart neighbouhood

© edwin.11

In France, buildings account for nearly half the overall energy consumption. Heating, lighting and air conditioning are responsible for 120 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, that is to say 25% of national emissions. Dramatic improvements are expected in this field, for instance the construction of “smart buildings”. This could help households spare over 1,000 euros a year, as Philippe Pelletier* said at the Rexel symposium on energy efficiency.

According to the Regulatory Commission of Energy, smart buildings are “high energy efficiency buildings combining electricity consumer, producer and storage equipment within a smart building management”. They include new construction and renovation techniques, but also the networking of the building’s different electric systems. These improvements affect administration buildings as well as individual and collective housing units, on the model of the IssyGrid “smart-neighbourhood” which was already mentioned on the webmag as the first French initiative on smart neighbourhoods.

Energy-producing buildings

The efficiency of a smart building depends on the energy management techniques and solutions in use. For instance, using materials such as glass-wool, hemp or straw is an efficient insulation method which helps avoid thermal dispersion. Similarly, developing optimal ventilation, heating and air-conditioning systems can significantly reduce energy consumption.

Today buildings are also able to cover part of their energy needs. For example, roofs can be covered with PV panels and harvest solar energy which will heat the unit (electric heaters, hot water). Such methods can cover and even surpass the inhabitants’ energy needs.

Networking electric systems to allow room-by-room monitoring of electricity consumption: the Louvre Museum paves the way

Indeed buildings only become “smart” once their energy consumption is managed through a sensor-based monitoring system.

Building management systems (BMS) connect all the electric equipment to a single network. They are computer-based systems made of several data concentrators fed by a range of sensors, which in turn are connected to a computer using a monitoring software. Power supply, lighting, ventilation, heating, air-conditioning, access control as well as video-surveillance devices are connected to and communicate with the central unit, which allows a real-time information and management of the infrastructure.

IT giants are committed to the development of BMSs. For instance, IBM launched its Smarter Building initiative and just installed its monitoring software, Maximo, at the Louvre Museum. This computer programme coordinates all maintenance, heating, lighting and locking operations for the 60,000 m2 galleries. Real-time assessment tools help control temperature and moisture rates in every single room so as to ensure that works are adequately preserved. No less that 40% energy savings are expected over the year.

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Photo : © edwin.11

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