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Sustainability and intelligent energy management in buildings

Energy management
Energy management (Quelle: www.fotolia.com/mast3r)

Protecting the climate and the reduction of greenhouse gases are urgent issues for our society. One key to meeting these challenges successfully is the efficient and sustainable use of energy. And this means that energy efficiency in buildings acquires an outstandingly important role. This is because the major share of primary energy usage falls on supplying buildings and is well ahead of even vehicle traffic and industry. In Germany, for instance, there are 21 million buildings. The proportion of total energy usage accounted for by these buildings is 35 percent. According to the plans drawn up by the German government, the primary energy needs of buildings is to be reduced by 80 percent by 2050. The major share of energy usage in buildings is accounted for by domestic dwellings: detached and semi-detached houses use 39 percent of the total energy supply, multiple occupancy dwellings account for 24 percent. The remaining 37 percent are down to non-residential buildings.

One approach to the conservation of energy, alongside suitable modification of the building envelope, can be implemented through the use of intelligent building services systems. ‘Smart’ and integrated regulation of lighting, sun protection, ventilation and climate control equipment - as well as other technical systems - in individual rooms and in buildings as a whole, can save a great deal of energy and reduce CO2 emissions. Moreover, because of their size, their situation and the different individual ways in which they are used, the greatest potential improvements in energy efficiency lie in non-residential buildings such as offices, schools and industrial premises, hospitals, shopping centres, conference centres, hotels and banks.

The energy that is supplied to a building can be divided into thermal energy, for heating, warm water and cooling, and electrical energy, for lighting and electrical and electronic appliances. Many different measures and technologies are required for efficient energy usage in buildings. A well-adjusted building automation system ensures that the appropriate amount of heat, cooling, ventilation and lighting is provided in each case, dependent on the need at any given time. This requires, on the one hand, ‘intelligent’ networking of the various installations such as the heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and cooling equipment, lighting, individual room controls, sun protection and access control. On the other hand, a thorough-going energy management system and continual adjustment of use, operation and consumption are all a precondition of greater energy efficiency in buildings.

If ‘smart’ building services technology is combined with the use of renewable energies, then the energy footprint is further improved. Renewable energy from wind, sun, water and the heat from the earth are sustainable resources and available for the long term. A photovoltaic installation, for instance, offers an excellent opportunity for creating electrical power from the sun’s energy. In order to be able to use the solar electricity flexibly, the PV system needs to be linked to a storage facility of some kind. That way, the home-produced energy can be made available at times of peak demand. But the user gets optimum advantage from the energy produced, only if the PV system is integrated into the building’s automation system.

Savings in the consumption of heating energy can be achieved through regulatory mechanisms in individual rooms. Sensors monitor the presence of someone in the room, as well as the temperature in the room and / or outside. The temperature is then adjusted accordingly, depending on the values returned for these various influences. The use of individual room regulation is particularly worthwhile in rooms that are little used or used for sporadic periods of time. It should be noted that the room sensors must, in order to work properly, be mounted in such a way as to be protected from environmental influences, including sunshine, incidental sources of heat, draughts etc. Modern individual room control systems also possess additional practical operational programmes which can be quickly activated and then deactivated. So, for example, the ‘absent’ function entails the activation of a previously programmed ‘absent’ temperature setting for all rooms.

Lighting control
Lighting control (Quelle: www.fotolia.com/marog-pixcells)

Significant savings in electricity can also be achieved by modernising the technology of the lighting equipment. In this case, a change to LED or energy-saving lamps, the installation of sensors for lighting levels, or control via the ‘human presence’ sender ensure that savings are made. Suitable linking of the lighting system and the upstream building automation system ensures optimum exploitation of all potential opportunities for improving energy efficiency. As a result, considerable amounts of energy can be saved, in e.g. office buildings, with daylight and presence-activated lighting controls; presence sensors dim the lights in the workplace after a pre-determinable time of absence, then switch them off automatically and back on again when someone re-enters the room; or a daylight-dependent control mechanism is activated. This results in the artificial light’s being switched on, only if the level of illumination is insufficient. Moreover, it is also possible to store individual lighting sequences that can be called up again at the push of a button.

Regulatory mechanisms for individual rooms and lighting management systems are just two examples of the way in which automation can improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Industry already provides the necessary technologies for this, today.

As part of its principal theme, the ‘Smartification of everyday life’, Light + Building will be directing its focus to ‘intelligent’ and networked buildings and will be presenting solutions and technologies, which aim as much at low levels of energy consumption and modern security requirements as they do at opportunities for individual, personalised designs and high levels of comfort and convenience. The industry, including the all the market leaders, will be showcasing its innovations in Frankfurt am Main, from 18 to 23 March. The trade visitors to the show will find solutions for energy-efficient building services systems, electrical and electronic installations and building infrastructure in Hall 8.0. Home and building automation, together with security technology, is located in Halls 9.0 and 9.1. Hall 11.0 is all about electrical installations and network technology, whilst design-orientated electrical and electronic installations and building services systems find a home in Hall 11.1.