By 2050, over 2.5 billion people will move to cities (United Nations, World Urbanization Prospects: 2014 Revision). To accommodate urbanisation, our cities must become smarter and more efficient. How? We look to buildings: the bedrock of cities worldwide. Buildings are where we spend most of our lives: working, shopping, relaxing, studying, and even getting well. In short, living.
It’s no wonder that buildings consume 33% of global energy today and 53% of the world’s electricity. What’s more, their electricity consumption will grow by 80% by 2040 (IEA, 4Degree Scenario). Therein lies incredible opportunity. For 82% of the economic potential of energy efficiency in buildings remains untapped (IEA, World Energy Outlook 2012, internal analysis). Not only we have the responsibility to curb energy demand by lowering consumption; we also have the technological advancements to do so.
Through Innovation and digitalisation at every level, we can help cities make their buildings smarter to improve occupant safety and comfort, while boosting operational efficiency and lowering energy use as well.
When we say “smart buildings,” we don’t mean overhauling and rebuilding. In developed economies, at least half of the buildings that will be in use in 2050 have already been built (United Nations Environment Programme, Buildings and Climate Change). In many of those buildings, older or outdated building systems are the number one cause of large-scale inefficiencies. To address these inefficiencies, retrofit solutions that update aging infrastructure to monitor, measure, and optimise energy consumption throughout the lifecycle of a building, regardless of age or existing systems, are key.
Modernizing buildings for the here and now is not enough, however. Buildings must stand the test of time, delivering efficiency today and tomorrow. Any retrofit step we take must also be future-fit. Smart buildings break down traditional energy management silos by integrating disparate systems without the need to perform a costly ‘rip and replace’ installation. Benefits of smart buildings can be applied to chains of buildings, multisite branches, or single buildings.
Using Building Automation Control and Systems we enhance ongoing value around safety, reliability, efficiency, and sustainability through a connected, dynamic building ecosystem – from sensors to services.
And for new builds, BACS ensures that building efficiency can stand the test of time.
In the light of the above, by 2030 we must have have a smarter building stock!
Not only smarter, but also more comfortable, more efficient, more flexible, more connected, more collaborative and capable of integrating more renewable energies.
Buildings will be no more just consuming energy but they will turn into a flexible distributed power house (consuming efficiently and also generating, storing, supplying) in a 50% renewable decentralized electrical system.
Automation, IOT and big data are among the technology enablers of this transition (and the good news is that they are available with every day decreasing costs).
This demand transition from a passive consumer to an active power house is critical not only for new buildings but also for the existing building stock. If we look at where we are today, we see that BACS are capital-light, fast payback (average 3 years) and large returns investments (benefits up to 9 times higher than the costs), able to boost jobs and growth (ECI estimated that an improved policy framework for BACS would create between 200,000 and 300,000 direct jobs and 3.7 million indirect jobs by 2030).
Nevertheless, there are some market and regulatory failures hampering the achievement of these benefits, such as split incentives between building owners and tenants, lack of awareness and insufficient regulatory framework.
It is therefore necessary, for larger buildings, to set minimum requirements for BACS.
BACS were already at the center of attention during the 2010 EPBD review, but at that time the European institutions chose a gradual approach, postponing the ambition to the 2018 review.
We cannot afford to lose ten more years: industry, citizen and enterprises are ready for a greener, healthier and cheaper future, it is now up to European institutions to make their move and make it real!
Pascal Pellerin, Director Industry & Government Affairs Strategy Schneider Electric and Vice-Chair of the eu.bac Advocacy Panel