Insights 12th April 2021 2030 goal

Intelligent building operating systems that create smart buildings give commercial property an opportunity to become greener, more cost-efficient and puts you on your Net Zero pathway.

To find out more about how to make your buildings intelligent, read about out IBOS platform.

Buildings are becoming smarter. Like cars, they will soon maximise the capabilities of automated systems that gauge exactly what resources are being used, and exactly when maintenance checks and repairs are required. And just as cars are becoming inherently greener, thanks to the development of electric vehicles, buildings must also take advantage of new technologies if they are to reach Net Zero carbon targets.

To meet climate change targets in line with the Paris Agreement and legislated by UK Government, by 2050 every building will need to hit the Net Zero energy-use reduction goal to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and global warming. Targets have also been set for all new buildings to reach Net Zero by 2030. Many landlords and institutional investors have also set their own goals.

Cities and their buildings fuel the global economy but also are responsible for 28% of the world’s operational carbon emissions. Therefore, every refurbishment, retrofit and construction project must be focused on delivering smart buildings which are able to achieve Net Zero carbon. Using the latest technology like the internet-of-things (IoT) and intelligent building operating systems can achieve up to 50% carbon savings compared to standard inefficient buildings.

Measure to optimise buildings for Net Zero

The harnessing of IoT smart building technologies means it’s possible to optimise assets for Net Zero. Not only delivering carbon reduction but also cost savings. Through live asset-level monitoring and automation of electricity, water, temperature, lighting, air quality, waste and even occupiers’ transport modes, it’s possible for property managers and building consultants to create efficiencies.

Smart building platforms have the power to connect the equipment monitoring of a portfolio of assets into one centralised system that aggregates all data. This is not only an important tool for sustainability and ESG reporting, but also means that remote monitoring and automated optimisation can take place at a portfolio level.

Unlike old-style legacy building management systems, smart building software links into building services, sensors and smart meters remotely using IoT connectivity, allowing cloud-based data monitoring that promotes energy efficiency and asset optimisation.

Intelligent buildings can monitor and optimise energy use by identifying at a granular level exactly where improvements can be made. By making use of machine learning to set rules for heating, hot water, and lighting, for example, smart buildings can then implement automated optimisation as part of this process. So, instead of simply being aware of temperature spikes or increased water usage, owners can take advantage of intelligence that identifies, and also resolves issues, implementing changes automatically.

Occupier engagement through smart tech is key for your building’s Net Zero strategy

Engaging with people who occupy a building is a fundamental element for success. Smart building solutions enable a whole-building approach as owners and occupiers working together make the built environment more efficient. This can be made attractive to occupiers with the quid pro quo of cost efficiencies. By linking their sensors, IoT devices and smart meters to a central intelligent building operating system, occupiers can streamline energy use. This inherently reduces all stakeholders’ energy costs, as well as aiding building owners in the quest for Net Zero and reduced environmental impact.

Occupier engagement means an intelligent building operating system could also be used to track the Carbon Trust’s Scope Three details such as how people are getting to and from the building. This could be achieved via the installation of sensors in the cycle-store, or a touch-screen system in reception for occupiers to record transport modes to and from the workspace. The average person can save 6% of their annual carbon footprint by switching to cycling, so this kind of behavioural change would mean reduced Scope Three emissions. These are often major carbon-contributing factors in the wider ecosystem.

Smart building technology also allows for optimal parameters to be set with regard to lighting, HVAC or water usage, for example. When previously agreed levels are exceeded, occupiers and facility managers are notified. This means facility managers and occupiers are working in partnership to keep within set usage targets.

Occupiers are reconsidering the future use of their workplaces while investors seek greater efficiencies to maintain lifecycle returns. Combined with the challenge of meeting Net Zero buildings targets, commercial properties need to adopt the best automation solutions to meet these challenges.

By James Hallworth, Senior Associate, Workman